Might Zomato’s ambitions render our kitchens redundant some day? Taking a cue from cab-hailing apps, which want car ownership consigned to history, that is what food-delivery apps in the US have giddily been forecasting. It’s unlikely to happen here, given our cultural moorings. But ordering in, Zomato believes, will get entrenched as a habit—at least among a vast number. In a blog, Zomato’s founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal estimates that nearly 200 million Indians over the next few years would be ordering food via its app at an average of about five times a month. About a tenth of that number, he reckons, would be doing this more than once a day.
It’s a staggering ambition. Zomato currently delivers 1.3 million orders a day. Scaling up to his forecast would require explosive growth. Evidently, Goyal’s optimism lies in the potential offered by smaller towns and cities in India. These regions now account for 35% of the company’s monthly order volume.
The success of food-delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy in metropolitan cities with large migrant populations is understandable. Youngsters live away from families and work all kinds of work shifts. Order-in services are a veritable lifeline for them. But what explains their expansion in other places? Is it the thrill and novelty of ordering food online? Is it discount pricing? Let’s face it, small towns have yet to transform into employment hubs. Also, families in such places are typically close-knit and maintain elaborate kitchens. This would suggest it’s just a fad. But it could also signify a major shift in attitudes. Let’s keep watch.