Few months earlier I read this post https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/swiggy-why-would-shutdown-soon-avinash-mb . Being a startup guy myself, was very emotional to see someone telling another startup should shutdown. It's hard to take a title like that. I went through the post, yes there are certain numbers that make sense, and for the fact that other startups in this segment had a tough time.
Then I was thinking if the startups in this space are failing because of profitability and shutting down , should they exist in the first place? These food delivery orgs converted a un-managed market to a managed market. Beyond that we haven't seen much innovation in the different ways of food ordering.
Food delivery is a problem that should be solved. So companies should exist in this place. If unit economics is not working out, probably companies should innovate on the solutions they provide and reach out to more users rapidly or make offerings that customers are willing to pay for, or optimize the existing operations and reduce costs. I know telling this is easy and solutioning it is difficult, so I got back to the whiteboard thinking what Swiggy should be doing to perform well, at least come out with flying colors. I am sharing my thoughts below.
Please be informed that these are ideas that are thought through and shared just out of responsibility of being in the startup space. I have done only preliminary analysis on the ideas I am proposing and the rest is to debate. My intention here is not solve the problem of unit economics instead give out scenarios where the food startups can increase their throughput and footprint.
Idea 1 : Food Pooling
Why don't we do food pooling? What it is ?
Consider a scenario, when the user logs in and is about to order food, he.she will be shown orders that are about to be placed in the same locality or building or the same IT park. User can choose to pool the order with them and get a discount. This helps to increase the order delivery to service personnel ratio and benefits the unit economics numbers. The customer knows that it is a pooled delivery and for the fact that he has got the discount doesn't expect a express delivery, but it doesn't mean that it will be slow. Got to break even this. Similar scenario can be implemented at the corporate campuses level too.
Idea 2 : Swiggy Spots in Corporate Cafeterias
Get spots in corporate cafeterias and brand them as Swiggy Spots. Employees can add their spots depending on the places they visit(within the city/across the city) in the swiggy app. make the swiggy spot look like a lunch meeting place or even a team lunch place.
Individuals can order food to their spot much earlier, or 15-20 minutes before and it will be delivered at the spot. If two people are having a lunch meeting setup, an add-in can be developed to the email and you can have menu choices in the meeting request email itself and meeting can be done at the Swiggy Spot too. If not at the Swiggy spot the same thing can be organized for a regular customer too... popularize lunch and dinner meetings with Swiggy.
Often Teams do go our for lunch. Bring them to the Swiggy spot and let them have the team lunch there, say one out of five, at least the dutch lunches what they have. Give a menu poll option into the app, let the team come together decide the menu and vote for it on the app and finally place the order. Team lunches are big. Getting some interesting deals around this and trying out in Tier-1 companies initially will help this out.
Idea 3 : From Food To Health
Swiggy delivers food, essentially what the user loves/likes to eat. The food determines his health. Why don't we get a eat right engine built for the customer which monitors his food intake. A step ahead can be recommendations based on the past orders and what should be a good deal. Get intuitive, say a user is ordering a cheese burger from anywhere like for 3 days. Give him a prompt, "We love to see you healthy, wanna avoid cheese?" look out for our recommendations etc. Right recommendations will improve the customer attach rate and will be one of happy reasons people will be coming to the app for. The key is not to offend the user but show the empathy and concern towards him and win his trust.
Partner with health apps out there and make the food ordering more a life style than a optional thing. Move from food ordering to ordering the food intake of customer, this is not the problem you are trying to solve but you are enabling the customer to get some food for thought on it.
Idea 4: Can we be the next dabbawalas?
I have read enough articles about why we can't replicate the mumbai dabbawala model in other cities etc etc. With the extensive operation force we have and most of the force being busy only during the lunch time or the dinner time, can we open up a morning 9:30 AM-11:00 AM for the dabba delivery. After all there is nothing like home food, and it is something that can be optimized. This market if cracked actually improves the operational utilization and opens door for further innovation.
Bottom-line: As an optimistic person I believe that no one should ever give up, but to be sensibly optimistic I would say keep innovating in your space and keep tasting new waters which will be boost you and your team and you would never want to give up.
Have even more ideas to explore in this space, saving them for another post, and will reflect on writing it or not based on what readers feel about this.