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How Technology is Changing Food Delivery

Piece of Pizza left in a box

With technological solutions growing, the takeaway industry is changing rapidly.

With services that deliver food to your door within minutes of ordering, food delivery services are more likely to describe themselves as tech firms than food companies – and they have good reason.Skinny fries on a piece of paper

Growing Number of Companies

The number of companies in the tech food delivery industry is growing rapidly. There’s Just Eat, based in London with a wide network. German-owned Hungryhouse is up there with them. Deliveroo was funded by venture capital. Feast works from 11pm to 5am, offering restaurant-quality food rather than the usual kebab for people returning home late. You could also try Lunch Bxd, which delivers healthy lunches by bicycle in London. The launch of HeyMenu is imminent – a service which does much the same of the rest but cuts out the commission to make it cheaper for business owners.

But those with food careers may have noticed a shift over the summer. Two US giants have come over the seas to set up in the UK: UberEats and Amazon Restaurants. Now you can get guaranteed restaurant food delivered within 30 minutes, with heavy discounts for deliveries that aren’t up to scratch. The market has had a rude awakening, and technology looks to play a bigger part than ever in the fight for dominance.

Telephone Battle

So what is the biggest challenge facing the food delivery market? The telephone, at least according to Hungryhouse’s chief executive, Alice Mrongovius. More than 40% of takeaway orders in the UK are still placed by phone.

"We have no time to be a logistics company," Mrongovius says. She insists that they are not nervous about the introduction of Amazon and Uber to the market. "Every part of our business is about how much we love takeaways and making sure our business is driven by the customer experience we deliver."

Company leaders now say that branding is the hugely important factor that will allow one or another of the competitors to get an edge. "We can correlate our growth from last year to our marketing investments," says Just Eat marketing director Ben Carter.

Alongside rebranding, they have also launched a new ordering experience. If you have an Apple TV, or a smart TV capable of downloading apps, you can now order through your television. You can even use Google’s Alexa to order a takeaway with your voice. The company aims to invest £40 million in marketing and technology this year.

As far as Deliveroo is concerned, the next step is delivery from big restaurants that have never offered delivery services before. More than that, they are also offering Roobox: a shipping container service allowing food to be brought in to London from different areas of the country. They have also paired with BrewDog and Majestic Wine to add alcohol deliveries to their service. Deliveroo has the edge on delivery: they hire their own delivery drivers and cyclists, rather than allowing the restaurants to use their own.

Managing Direct Dan Warne says: "We will never become a business like Just Eat – a business that not just drives down the price but also serves the lower-quality side of the sector. We will always continue to excel in the quality of our food, our experience and our relationships with both our food content partners and our customers."

What’s clear is that things are certainly changing for chefs. In a busy kitchen, orders are now being plated up not just for guests seated at tables. Some of them will go to a courier waiting nearby, ready to be put in a box and ferried to a waiting home.