Australia’s peak restaurant body said the boom in smartphone apps and websites offering on-demand meal deliveries is turning up the heat on food retailers as it provides a delivery drivers to restaurants that don’t have the means to run their own fleets.
The trend has opened the door for higher-end restaurants to take a slice of Australia’s $16.4 billion dollar takeaway industry, Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive John Hart says.
Delivery Hero, foodora, Deliveroo and Sherpa are among the major players providing on-demand meal deliveries, and ride-sharing giant Uber has said its US food delivery service, UberEats, will soon expand in Australia.
But Hart said the development has not been as disruptive in food as Uber was to the taxi industry.
“It has made takeaway more competitive and it may be disruptive for pre-made meals in supermarkets but it is not like the disruption we saw with Uber and taxis,” Hart said.
Jason Titman, from e-commerce platform Neto, said fast food retailers were also in the race and have been ramping up their technology.
“We’ve seen the likes of McDonald’s and Domino’s innovate in the same way that we’ve seen Deliveroo innovate,” he said.
“As sharing economy applications become more widespread and enter additional areas, retailers will start to develop technology-based responses that allow them to out-disrupt the disruptors.”
Domino’s have also been expanding the ways they deliver food, even unveiling a prototype delivery robot.
Australian developers are finding niches in the market, among them Drive Yello, an app designed for franchisees and restaurant owners in need of delivery drivers.
Drive Yello co-founder Steve Fanale said he realised there was a need for an app that connects food retailers directly with people who want to work as independent delivery drivers, especially during busy trading times, when a friend running a franchise business complained about having trouble finding drivers.
The app was launched about four months ago and has attracted several major retailers, including Crust Pizza and McDonald’s, which is trialling it at one store.
“It’s part of the way businesses are changing where the sharing economy is opening up opportunities for people who want to work independently,” Fanale said.