On time, every time

  • Branded
  • Friday, 14 Feb 2020

THE hassle of having to go out and find parking, or waiting to be seated at a restaurant has become a thing of the past. Today, you can order food from the confines and comforts of your own home and get your meal in under half an hour at a very affordable cost. Food delivery is a booming business and is changing not just how we eat, but also the face of the entire food industry.

Sayantan Das, managing director of online marketplace for on demand delivery, Foodpanda, said that almost everyone living in the Klang Valley uses food delivery services at least once a week.

Though some still mistake the Foodpanda logo (a pink panda) for something more zoo-related, Sayantan explains that his company’s business is entirely focused on food: “We aggregate restaurants in Malaysia so that they can offer their menus on our platform, and then we provide fulfilment in terms of last mile logistics. In a nutshell, we pick up food from the restaurants and deliver it to our customers, ” Sayantan offered, adding that Foodpanda comes under the banner of Delivery Hero, a public listed company from Frankfurt, Germany.

Sayantan Das, Managing Director of Foodpanda Malaysia says that Maxis is a great local partner to have because they understand the business and are adept at managing an IoT system like theirs. GLENN GUAN/The Star.

In Malaysia, Foodpanda has more than 14,000 riders, servicing over 18,000 restaurants across the nation, from Kulim to Kuching. The inhouse team is made up of 200 staff.

“We launched here about eight years ago which makes us the first last-mile delivery provider for food in Malaysia, ” said Sayantan, reinforcing the fact that Foodpanda is a pioneer in this space.

Using the Foodpanda app is simple enough – open app, pick favourite restaurant, pick meal, confirm order, pay online, dispatch system transmits information, rider in the vicinity picks up meal and delivers to your doorstep – but what users probably don’t know is what goes on behind the scenes to ensure that Foodpanda consistently meets promised delivery times, to the satisfaction of the customer.

“It’s so important that our riders, restaurants and all the stakeholders are in sync, so we need to adopt the latest technologies and keep on advancing our algorithms to ensure we deliver a superior customer experience every time, ” Sayantan said, explaining that Foodpanda has its own dashboard software that was developed inhouse which enables it to monitor its fleet.

Maxis’s IoT Connectivity has enabled Foodpanda to gain the widest connectivity across Malaysia – filepix

He said: “This tracking mechanism and software allows us to manage the process actively by using our algorithms, as well as some level of artificial intelligence to predict and forecast where our riders are going to be in real time.”

However, just as important has been Foodpanda’s very successful partnership with Maxis. Thanks to Maxis IoT Connectivity, Foodpanda has been able to gain the widest connectivity across Malaysia, future-proof its IoT investments and plan and budget more accurately.

“We wanted a local partner that would understand and have the capacity to manage an IoT system. We rely a lot on our algorithms, and on dispatching systems and this requires all the components to be able to talk to each other in the cloud. Our partnership with Maxis, which began almost four years ago, is so important because of this.

“The expertise that Maxis provides to us in this space is very relevant. Imagine if you place an order, and there's a connectivity failure. Just because the Internet breaks down, your bottom line is affected.”

Speed is crucial, Sayantan emphasised. “It’s everything in our business. If we're delivering food in an average of 30 minutes, we want to deliver food quicker than that, in 20 minutes. And Maxis has really helped us increase our efficiency rates.”

In the past it took a lot of time to get food to customers primarily because of the lack of penetration of the Internet in a lot of areas in Malaysia and also because of slow Internet speeds. He added: “We really have to rely on an established presence like Maxis which has a deep presence in the Internet and broadband space in Malaysia.”

Apart from being a service provider, Maxis also offers digital solutions and is involved in behind the scenes analytics, account servicing and account management.

Sayantan said: “In this business what’s really important is relationships, and Maxis has been an invaluable partner. We have a dedicated business manager who is always giving us solutions to whatever problems we face. Plus, the people from Maxis are also innovative, out-of-the-box thinkers that enable us to grow and drive the business to greater heights, ” Sayantan shared, admitting that even while the business continues to grow in this region, Foodpanda does have its share of challenges to deal with.

“For example, ” he said. “We still haven't mastered weatherproof delivery. So whenever it rains, it always stresses our operations. However, this is the same with any other logistics business. For example, even when you go to an airport, and there haze is everywhere, the planes get delayed.”

Another issue is inaccurate GPS readings. “The further outside of the Klang Valley you go, Google seems to fail and sometimes we have a hard time locating a customer, which is of course, a frustrating experience not only for us, but for the customer as well! But again, that’s where Maxis’ diverse footprint across the country comes into play. They are the best provider for us. And we have a geographic footprint that is bigger than any other delivery in the market.”

Sayantan also shared that Foodpanda is always thinking about pushing its digital transformation into Tier Two and Tier Three cities like Bintulu and Sibu. “But there’s an added challenge there – how do we get stores that have established themselves for the last 50 years or 60 years on ground to come online and trust food delivery?”

As for rival businesses, Sayantan said that he finds a healthy competitive environment good. “It keeps us on our toes, and it ensures that we innovate all the time. At the same time, we're also looking at diversifying our services. For example, recently, we launched an option called ‘pick up’ where customers can actually go to the restaurant to pick up their meals themselves. And in other markets we’re trialling delivery of groceries, flower delivery, convenience goods deliveries. This is something we are currently testing in Malaysia.

“We also want to further innovate the supply chain that delivers food. What that means is that we hope to open up cloud kitchens or partner with other restaurant providers to see how we can create flavours that Malaysians can relate to. That's something very exciting on the horizon for us.”

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