Food delivery

Indian actress Alia Bhatt, who was recently signed for Uber Eats’ new TV campaign, is seen here posing at the 'Gully Boy' photocall during the 69th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin Feb. 0, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI — Driven by a surge in online food orders especially among millennials, leading food delivery platforms are embracing Artificial Intelligence in a big way to better read fast-changing consumer behavior, minimize errors and enhance customer experiences.

According to Bengaluru-based research firm RedSeer, the Indian online food delivery market is expected to hit $4 billion by 2020 and to handle and leverage terabytes of data for delivery efficiency has led food aggregators Swiggy and Zomato to bet big on AI and Machine Learning.

"Swiggy's mission is to bring unparalleled convenience into the lives of urban consumers. We do this by operating a three-way, hyper-local marketplace where we match consumer demand with supply from restaurants and delivery partners," Dale Vaz, head of engineering and data science at Swiggy, told IANS.

"We use AI/ML across this three-way marketplace to deliver a wow customer experience, unlock business growth and drive operational efficiency," added Vaz, who joined Swiggy in July last year from Amazon India.

On the consumer side, Swiggy is using AI to deliver a personalized discovery experience for them — be it catalog intelligence, customer intelligence, relevance and personalized customer experience and real-time signals (last-mile distance between the restaurant and customer location).

On the restaurant side, it is using AI for time-series based demand prediction models that help its partners plan ahead for demand.

"In addition to our dedicated delivery fleet (the largest in the country), AI models help us ensure that we provide a highly accurate delivery promise to our customers and meet that promise in an efficient manner," informed Vaz.

According to Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal, at the beginning of 2018, they were at 3.5 million orders a month. "With 21 million orders per month, as far as we know, we are now the market leader in the food ordering space in India," he said recently.

Swiggy, which recently raised $1 billion, on Feb. 4 acquired Kint.io, a startup which specializes in applying deep learning and computer vision for object recognition in videos.

Zomato has acquired a desi startup called TechEagle Innovations for drone-based food delivery.

"We believe that robots powering the last-mile delivery is an inevitable part of the future and hence is going to be a significant area of investment for us," said Goyal.

Uber Eats is experiencing a nearly 50 percent month-on-month growth in its first year of operations in India. It has more than doubled in terms of the number of orders in the last three months.

"Uber Eats has gained great momentum in India and is one of its fastest growing markets in the Asia Pacific region," Bhavik Rathod, head of Uber Eats India, said recently. Uber Eats is currently present in 37 cities in India.

Livemint recently reported that Uber Eats, thanks to a new TV campaign using Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt, has led to an emergence among food delivery apps.

The report says that Uber Eats has an edge over rivals Zomato and Swiggy, and that the three platforms plan on spending about 300 crore rupees on advertising this year.

Swiggy has gone beyond young users and targeted mothers in one of its campaigns trying to break into the under-penetrated household segment which usually shies away from ordering food online, the Livemint report said.

It broke its first television ad last year showcasing everyday moments when users turn to Swiggy, followed by IPL-themed ads and, most recently, emphasizing its quick delivery promise, it added.

“All these television ads are true to Swiggy’s style of short but impactful commercials. The 25 to 30 second videos are replete with subtle humor and relatable moments exploring every day scenarios in consumers’ lives," said a spokesperson from Swiggy.

Meanwhile, Alibaba backed food ordering platform Zomato has also stepped up its game, moving beyond its quirky digital and social media promotions, according to Livemint.

The company recently leveraged television, radio and outdoor mediums to talk about its ‘No Cooking January’ campaign urging consumers to order online, the report said.

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