Entrepreneur

We Visited foodpanda Malaysia. Conclusion? We NEVER Want To Run A Food Delivery Startup.

Most of us would have heard of the prolific food delivery startup, foodpanda.

Established in Malaysia in 2012, even if you haven’t used their services before you’ve probably seen their stickers around at their partner restaurants.

It’s quite hard to miss the bright orange paired with the stark black and white of their trademark panda. With over 1000 partner restaurants all over the nation, odds are you’ve eaten at one of them even if you didn’t get the food delivered.

We recently got the opportunity to have a sit-down interview with Yannick Skop, the Managing Director of foodpanda Malaysia and some of his team members.

To be honest, we went in with a rather blasé attitude.

After all, how hard can it be to manage food delivery? All you need to do is ensure food gets from Point A, the restaurant to point B, the consumer.

So, we decided to get a glimpse of all the different processes involved.

1. Encountering The Brand For The First Time

The Marketing Team: “Working on a limited budget to reach the mass market.”

Social media reactions.

If you’ve seen foodpanda appear on your Facebook feed, it’s probably thanks to the enterprising marketing team.

Tasked with getting the foodpanda name out there, they’re the ones who have to entice potential new customers to try the service.

According to Yogeetha, the Content & Marketing Manager, they’re always on the lookout for cost-efficient methods that can help to educate potential users about their services on the spot.

One aspect they can never forget? The preferences of the social media crowd can change overnight. One style might please the public one day and receive no interaction the next.

To stay relevant, it’s all about constant reinvention and keeping abreast of trends. For example, the foodpanda team have jumped onboard with live videos and are using social media influencers to try reach a larger audience.

Positive feedback on social media really makes their day. “You know that in the end, all the effort and all the pushing of the foodpanda brand and trying to get the name out there, it’s working,” Yogeetha added with a satisfied smile.

2. Bringing Customers’ Favourite Restaurants To Them

 The Vendor Team: “Even simple things can ruin a customer’s experience.”

Image Credit: foodpanda

What’s the point of being a food delivery business if there’re no restaurants to deliver food from?

That’s where the vendor team comes in. foodpanda already works with popular international and local chains such as Nando’s, Chili’s, Sushi King, and Old Town White Coffee, but also provides a lot of variety by including local restaurants, hidden gems, and even healthy food options.

When it comes to curating the restaurants who then appear on the foodpanda platform, we were surprised to hear about all the criteria involved.

Besides choosing the type of cuisine and quality of food, foodpanda also looks out for social media presence and reviews. This is all part of their stringent qualification process to ensure the best experience for customers.

Also, another major hurdle that they have to face is getting their vendors to understand that paying attention to details can either make or break a consumer’s day.

One example brought up by operations manager Willy, was a vendor preparing a delicious meal and having everything smoothly delivered on time by foodpanda. The mistake? No cutlery was included, which is a small oversight that would have affected the food delivery experience for the customer.

It’s getting the vendors on board with this mindset of perfecting the customer experience that the operations team constantly have to crack their heads over.

To help vendors understand the effect of their actions, whether good or bad, foodpanda sends out automated weekly emails about their performance. These included reviews, number of missed orders and even lost revenue from orders that they might have dropped the ball on.

3. Getting The Food Where It Needs To Be

 The Delivery Team: “Everything has a chain reaction.”

Image Credit: foodpanda

We asked the delivery team representatives, Sukhveer and Hafizi, what they thought were the biggest challenges, and both of them looked gloomily out of the window at the monsoon darkened sky.

“Rain,” was the unanimous reply.

Since motorbikes are the mode of transport for foodpanda deliveries, it’s a no-brainer that bad weather will disrupt their services.

I’m sure many foodpanda users have seen the message of how deliveries may be delayed due to the rain, and personally, I’ve said a few unkind words out loud. We live in an age where we want what we want immediately and we can be quite unforgiving of external circumstances.

When it comes to delivery, the team agreed that if one thing goes wrong, it could trigger a chain reaction if the issue is not resolved within minutes.

For instance, if a rider gets held back because of the rain, his delay also might affect his timing to his next pickup. Luckily foodpanda has preventative measures in place to minimise weather-related issues, so that customers can enjoy their meal even during monsoon season.

However, we shouldn’t be slinging mud at the boys in orange.

The riders actually have to go through intensive training to be polite and professional in their interactions with customers and vendors. Riders have an app through which their performance is carefully measured. The more positive feedback a rider gets, the more orders they will receive.

4. When Customers Want To Feed The Masses

The Corporate Accounts Team: “Making sure everything is smooth.”

Image Credit: foodpanda

Imagine if you decide you suddenly need 400 cups of bubble tea from Gong Cha (which, according to the team, has happened before).

The corporate accounts team is a relatively new arm of the foodpanda family and is in charge of handling clients who regularly order in larger quantities, say for about 50 to 500 people.

If you think about it, it does make sense to have a separate team handling orders like these.

Having to handle an average of 100 orders per client is no small feat. Things get even trickier if the clients have special requests or demand personalisation or even consistency for bulk orders.

The team shared that it’s all about understanding the clients’ needs and demands and orchestrating all the relevant in-house teams to move together to ensure that these are met.

“For those 400 GongChas, I decided to drop all my other tasks and help delivering the drinks myself because I wanted to make 100% sure that the client would be happy with our service—thankfully every single one arrived without a single drop spilled!” Subha from the corporate accounts team added.

5. When Things Don’t Go Exactly Right

The Customer Service Team: “The moment it’s about food, expectations are high.”

Image Credit: foodpanda

The hard-working customer service team has two fronts to face: the customers and the vendors.

We asked eagerly for horror stories and waited to be regaled with tales of woe but were severely disappointed when the answer was, “Considering how difficult it is to get 100% of deliveries on time, rain or shine, we actually don’t get that many complaints.”

The secret? It’s all about being proactive in calling the customers first. Since they track all the riders and know the status, if there’s a delayed delivery, the customer service centre will make a call out to the user to let them know.

They’re very aware that when it comes to food, customers instantly have higher expectations. To be hangry (hungry and angry) is a very well documented pop-culture phenomenon, after all.

The SOP is also to immediately address problems that come up. Customers can provide feedback via the live chat or by email. This is to help with quality assurance and also allows for greater efficiency.

Communicating in black and white also ensures that there’s less chances of misunderstanding or miscommunication, and they can still call out if there is a need.

We’ll Stick With Publishing, Thank You Very Much

Needless to say, it really was quite a gruelling 4 hours as we got to hear the ins-and-outs of the workings of foodpanda.

As the Vulcan Post managing editor remarked to Yannick, “So, it’s not just  an e-commerce platform; you’re held responsible for every order. The minute something goes wrong, the consumer would usually look to foodpanda for an answer, not the vendor restaurants.”

Even the meeting rooms are named after food.

When you think of the scale and coordination that has to happen for service to be consistent, somehow it’s more of a wonder that less things go wrong. According to foodpanda, food gets delivered within 40 minutes on average, which is a small miracle in KL.

We’ll just close with Yannick’s words: “It’s a tough business and not everyone can do it. Every member on our team really cares about what he or she does and is not afraid to work hard to delight our hungry customers—that’s the only way you can create a delivery business which gives customers reason to smile (and eat!) every time they order.”

This article was brought to you by foodpanda Malaysia.

 

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