Personal concierge services have been the latest trend here in Malaysia, all thanks to Magic from the US. The phrase “personal concierge services” may sound foreign to some but in essence the phrase represents a service that’s both simple and effective at times.
Most of these services function based on one similar premise—send them an SMS with the details of your request, the team will send you a quotation and then you can decide if you want to proceed to hire them to carry out the task or request for you. We’ve listed a number of concierge services currently available and one noteworthy service that did manage to make waves in their wake is Be Malas.
During our interview with the co-founders of Be Malas, they mentioned something interesting. Despite the fact that the team is willing to carry out any requests from the users (as long as it’s legal), the most popular requests received by them on a daily basis are related to food delivery.
And so it got us wondering: if people rely on personal concierge services to deliver food then what effect does that have on actual food delivery services and platforms?
To answer that question and a few others, we reached out to Foodpanda, an online food-ordering platform in Malaysia to ask them how feel about the rise of personal concierge services and how they intend on staying ahead of the competition in the expertise of food delivery.
In contrast to our initial perceptions that the personal concierges’ food delivery service might have a negative effect on the number of orders Foodpanda has received, Sidney Ng, country manager of Foodpanda Malaysia was quick to correct this.
Sidney noticed that the current busy lifestyle that Malaysians have has led to the increasing demand of Foodpanda’s services every month. “It has not affected us—in fact it has helped us in educating prospective customers on the possibility of getting food other than fast food delivered. We have upgraded our dispatching process and have automated this to increase speed, minimise errors and to track delivery times more accurately,” he said.
As for the advantages that Foodpanda has over upcoming personal concierge services, Sidney Ng explained that the best analogy of this is when one goes to a doctor, one would rather go to a specialist than a normal GP. “We still offer the widest range of cuisines and have dedicated riders to perform delivery. We work directly with restaurants and should an item be unavailable we are able to inform the customers up front,” he said.
This makes sense seeing as when your Foodpanda order is being processed and if an item is unavailable, a representative would call from the restaurant to inform you and you can still cancel your order (if you so wish to) and not pay a single cent. This of course is only applicable for COD transactions. This is unlike personal concierges whereby a runner has to be sent to the restaurant first before knowing if an item is available or not.
In terms of offering the widest range of cuisines, that is debatable since personal concierge services are able to buy food from any restaurant you want, as long as the restaurant provides take-out service. However, Sidney brought up a valid point that Foodpanda works with restaurants to provide deals and discounts to their customers, which is not yet offered by services like Be Malas and Helpr.
For the future, we asked if Foodpanda would consider partnering with concierge services and Sidney said that although they are always open to chat, they place their customers’ needs above their own and it’s all about the quality of the delivery.
While personal concierge services do offer the option of being able to deliver any kind of food that you’d like, the truth of the matter is that they aren’t food delivery services in essence. And because they aren’t, they don’t have all of the necessary elements in place to provide both choice and quick delivery.
Traditional food delivery services do just that—deliver food. They have full control over the logistics, they understand what customers want and most of all, they aren’t as expensive. For example, Be Malas charges a base fee of RM25, Helpr charges a base fee of RM15, while Foodpanda charges a delivery fee of RM4. Although from personal experience, you usually have to order something that costs more than RM15; but it’s still a better option in my opinion when it comes to having a meal delivered to your house.
What concierge services offer is the added layer of personal attention, because you can customise your order by communicating with an actual person, but they too have the challenge of competing on a leveled plain with other specialised services when it comes to food delivery or other menial tasks. Such as instead of going through personal concierge services to send dirty laundry to the laundromat and then deliver it back to me, I could also opt to go directly to a laundry startup that already offers such services (pick-up and delivery).
Using personal concierge services to solely deliver food (especially when there’s Foodpanda) once in a while beats the whole purpose of what they stand for, in my opinion. They are there to do anything for you and you should use them for everything else other than food delivery—like running errands, paying your taxes, buying a gun (legally), something that’s complicated and requires more time and effort, so that it’s worth paying for it.