What are the best food delivery apps in India for restaurants as well as customers and why?

  • What are the best food delivery apps in India for restaurants as well as customers and why?

    Dec 22, 2023

    Overview of Food Delivery Apps in India

    The online food delivery market in India has grown exponentially over the last decade. From just a handful of players in 2010 when food tech startups like Foodpanda originated, to over 800 foodtech startups in India currently, the industry has witnessed tremendous growth and evolution.

    Some key factors driving this growth are rising internet and smartphone penetration even in small towns and rural areas, changing consumer lifestyles and preferences, an increasingly busy working population with less time to cook at home, and the convenience and discounted pricing offered by food delivery platforms. Additional factors like foreign investments, innovative business models like cloud kitchens, and favorable demographics have given a boost to the food delivery app segment.

    As per industry reports, the total worth of the Indian online food delivery market is expected to cross $12 billion by the end of 2023. The market is intensely competitive with platforms like Zomato, Swiggy, and Foodpanda having captured a majority of the market share between them. However, new players with niche offerings continue to emerge while existing ones aggressively scale up their operations through funding and acquisitions. The food delivery space also continues to evolve with concepts like cloud kitchens, private labels, subscription-based delivery, and quick commerce gaining traction.

    Comparison of different food delivery apps

    While there are numerous food delivery apps catering to the Indian audience, some of the major players are:

    Zomato - Claims to have over 1.4 million restaurant listings spread across 500+ cities in India with over 10 million monthly orders. Offers discounts like Zomato Pro for free deliveries and Zomato Gold for dining discounts along with a Zomato Piggybank for cashbacks. Has been acquiring other food startups like UberEats India to consolidate its position.

    Swiggy - Claims to deliver from 1,50,000 restaurants spread across 500+ Indian cities serving about 5 million orders per month. Offers discounts through its Swiggy One membership in addition to Surprise offers and Super saver days. Focuses on quick commerce via Instamart that promises grocery delivery within 30-45 minutes.

    Foodpanda - Owned by global player Delivery Hero, Foodpanda operates in 300+ cities in India with 90,000 restaurant partners. Offers periodic discounts via Coupons and deals on orders. Has a large network of cloud kitchens running popular brands.

    In addition to the big three food delivery apps mentioned above, there are several mid-sized and niche apps making their presence felt:

    Dunzo - Leading player in the hyperlocal delivery segment. Partners with neighborhood stores and restaurants to deliver items across categories within 45 minutes.

    Domino's - World's leading pizza brand. Has its own online ordering platform along with listing on other food and grocery delivery apps.

    Pizza Hut - International pizza restaurant chain with 300+ own outlets in India. Seamless online ordering system offering deals and cashback.

    KFC - Popular global chicken restaurant chain using its distinct app for online orders and delivery in India.

    These platforms allow restaurants to list themselves, upload menus with prices, and accept online orders from customers who can browse, order, make payments via the app, and get food delivered to their doorstep. The apps manage the order flow, logistics, payments, etc. in return for a commission from the restaurants.

    Benefits of using food delivery apps for restaurants:

    Wider reach and discovery - Apps allow restaurants, especially standalone outlets to reach more tech-savvy customers beyond their locality leading to discovery by new users.

    Higher incremental sales - Online orders comprise 20-30% of revenues for most restaurants on these platforms, adding to their overall business.

    Lower operational costs - Without investing in their own delivery personnel and infrastructure, restaurants can simply focus on food preparation.

    Access to data and analytics - Platforms provide rich insights into dish popularity, customer demographics, busy periods, etc. allowing smart targeting.

    Additional revenue streams via cross-selling - Apps provide the ability to push in-house brands, beverages, snacks, etc. to boost order values.

    Upskilling opportunities - Restaurants can learn from food tech companies in areas like food photography, presentation, packaging, etc. to enhance quality.

    End-to-end order management - Right from listing menus to settling payments, apps handle everything allowing restaurants to concentrate on cooking.

    Creation of new brands via cloud kitchens - Platforms like Rebel Foods allow completely online brands to reach more customers.

    Reduction in dining space requirements - With online deliveries meeting a major chunk of demand, lower on-premise dining space would suffice for some restaurants.

    Advantages of food delivery apps for customers:

    Convenience - Order from favorite restaurants without visiting them or even when home-bound. Saves effort and time.

    Variety - Explore and choose dishes from several restaurants in the area across cuisines matching one's cravings.

    Discounts - Apps offer special introductory offers for new users in addition to special days with offers allowing saving on wallet burns.

    Bill transparency - Clear menu pricing, order summaries, and itemized payment breakups ensure no hidden charges or bloating of bills.

    Accessibility - User locations enable ordering from eateries located in inaccessible areas or other cities that you otherwise can’t visit.

    Safety - No risks associated with dining out at small establishments during pandemic times or avoiding unhygienic food.

    Cashless payments - Hungry souls who do not carry hard cash or change can still order and pay seamlessly using digital apps and wallets.

    User customization - The ability to customize orders with special instructions like less spice, and no onion ensures correct delivery as per taste preferences.

    Delivery tracking - Real-time order tracking offered by most apps provides visibility on expected arrival times and delays if any.

    Customer support - Issues with orders can be raised instantly via self-serve channels or customer support for quick resolution or refunds/credits.

    Top food delivery apps for restaurants in India

    Zomato: It has the largest market share among competitors. Its wide reach, brand visibility, and large existing customer base spanning demographics make it the top choice for most restaurants looking to start online deliveries.

    Swiggy: Its focus on quick deliveries, penetration into smaller towns aided by its cloud kitchen network, and proprietary technology stack to manage peak order volumes during meal times make Swiggy the second preferred choice after Zomato, especially for established brands.

    Foodpanda: Affordable commissions and subscription plans resulting in good value for money make Foodpanda attractive to budget restaurants though its customer base is much lower than the top two companies. Its parent entity Delivery Hero also invests in scaling up brands via cloud kitchens.

    Next in line are full-stack players like Dunzo, DotPe, etc. though their restaurant offering is currently limited compared to the big 3 platforms. International QSR brands like McDonald's, KFC, etc. are tying up with hyperlocal delivery apps to expand their online ordering in India.

    Top food delivery apps for customers in India

    Zomato: It offers the largest number and variety of restaurant listings covering the most cities, localities, and cuisine types. Attractive discount offers through Zomato Pro, Gold, etc., an intuitive interface, and a premium feel keep users hooked to the app.

    Swiggy: Its service levels in terms of quicker and more accurate deliveries differentiate Swiggy from the competition. Additional guarantees like no-questions-asked refunds for delays make it reliable especially for everyday food delivery needs.

    Foodpanda: Though its reach is smaller compared to the top apps, its regular coupon codes, and delivery fee offers result in cheaper net pricing which appeals to budget-conscious customers. A wide array of neighborhood restaurants and lesser-known eateries also get listed on Foodpanda.

    The next wave of top food apps according to customers would be:

    Dunzo/Swiggy Genie - Their ability to deliver small quantities, of non-food items from any restaurant or store within 45 minutes makes these suitable for unplanned, impulsive cravings.

    Brand-owned apps like McDelivery, KFC, Domino's, etc. - Their captive customer base comprising of loyalists and purists pushes up order volumes on QSR brand-owned apps guaranteeing product quality.

    Analysis and conclusion

    The food delivery app segment has become extremely vital for the restaurant industry contributing significantly to their overall revenues and growth. For time-strapped, convenience-seeking customers too, these apps have changed home-delivered food habits in India radically. Underpenetrated markets beyond metros, rising usage of apps for daily essentials and ordering, and comfort/trust with digital payments will drive growth further.

    Zomato and Swiggy will continue to dominate the market in the short term given their first-mover advantage, vast network reach, large war chests, brand popularity, and funding leverage. However, new innovations in delivery models, supply chain, privacy/data usage, payment methods, etc. by smaller niche players could help them scale up operations and eat into the market shares of the larger firms.

    Most industry experts predict that eventually, 3-4 major food delivery platforms will be able to sustain themselves as market leaders in India in the long run while smaller regional/local apps might remain restricted to particular geographies or get acquired. Dining out and on-premise consumption would also make a comeback post-pandemic as customers seek novelty.

    However, ordering daily essentials and recurring purchases online is expected to grow exponentially and players like Dunzo, and Swiggy Instamart are gearing up through rapid expansion. For both restaurants and customers, listing on and accessing multiple food delivery apps would be highly recommended to avail the best pricing, discounts, geographical reach, and quality of service.


    Which app has the largest reach in India currently?

    As of 2023, Zomato has the widest presence in India covering over 500 cities with 1.4 million restaurant listings on its platform.

    Which food delivery apps offer maximum discounts and savings?

    Apps like Zomato (Pro/Gold Memberships), Swiggy (One/Super/Prime memberships), Foodpanda (Coupons) and external aggregators like Dineout offer maximum discounts, cashbacks and savings to encourage customer acquisitions and repeat orders.

    What is the commission or fee paid by restaurants to platforms?

    Commissions range widely from 10-30% on the order value on most platforms. Some charge fixed monthly subscription plans while others include promotional placements and sponsored visibility packages in the fees.

    What are the different ways restaurants can drive more online orders and sales?

    Optimizing menu presentation, competitive pricing, visuals, leveraging peak hour demand, running promotions, cross-selling, integrating with multiple apps and managing in-house delivery fleet help restaurants boost online order volumes.

    How fast are deliveries as per the commitment from top food ordering apps?

    The average delivery time promised varies from 30-45 minutes though Swiggy Instamart delivers much faster within 30-35 mins banking on its quick commerce supply chain abilities.

    Which food delivery app has the largest number of registered restaurants currently?

    As per latest industry reports, Zomato continues to have the highest number of restaurant partners with over 1.4 million listings on its platform across India as of 2023.

    Do Indian food delivery apps accept all digital payment modes?

    Yes, most apps accept payments online via credit cards, debit cards, UPI apps, internet banking, digital wallets, gift cards, etc. Some like Swiggy also collect cash on delivery as an added payment option.

    Are there apps in India specially made for particular cuisines like pizza, biryanis etc?

    Yes, apps like Biryani by Kilo, Faasos, Box8, Freshmenu etc. started off by specializing in specific cuisine offerings though many provide multi-cuisine options today. Popular QSR brands like Domino's, Pizza Hut have their own apps too.

    Do top food delivery apps provide services in small towns and villages?

    Apps like Swiggy and Zomato have expanded into Tier 2,3 cities. However, smaller niche apps still target only metro cities and Tier 1 towns as of now.

    What tips can help customers save more money on food orders?

    Opting for annual memberships, ordering during off-peak hours, splitting bills, paying via credit cards for cashbacks, pre-loading balances and redeeming referral/promo codes help maximize savings for customers on food delivery platforms.

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