The new food ecosystem

Leveraging technology can create a more sustainable environment for food businesses

We are creatures of convenience. The rise of restaurant delivery services show this, Just Eat have the mass market and show impressive annual growth. Whilst Deliveroo, UberEats and Amazon are fighting at the top end of the market with more people using their service on a weekly basis.

Customers will never rewind on this access and they now want the choice to go with it. The issue, as can be seen with Deliveroo and their Rooxbox concept, is a lack of space for these operators to trade from.

Current solutions require expensive outlays on rental premiums, rent, security deposits and other costs. These represent significant barriers to entry to a business looking to launch or scale economically.

The advent of the sharing economy through pioneers such as Airbnb has seen people view their ‘assets’ differently. Trust has increased and safety measures to protect both sides of the marketplace have improved.

What does this mean for food businesses?

The answer is that by leveraging the principles of the sharing economy, food businesses can now access sites in their desired areas at a fraction of the cost.

There are winners on both sides of the marketplace. The site they are using is likely to be supplementing an existing revenue stream.

A real-world example of this is a successful Central London restaurant that cannot access the potential delivery market due to capacity constraints at its site. This is not for want for trying, but physical customers must be prioritised over digital ones. They are also constrained by delivery radius, they are in a West End location with limited residents in the vicinity.

The solution to their problems lay in moving to two delivery only sites. These were cafes with no evening trade. All the equipment was there as required as were the customers in this affluent residential neighbourhood. All they had to do was plug into their existing delivery partners platform and for almost no sunk cost and low overheads they had a fully functioning delivery kitchen.

The host business is happy to have the extra income and we can see the green shoots of a sustainable food ecosystem with more choice for customers and increased profitability for host and user business.

It begs the questions- Do restaurants need to exist in the traditional form or is there space for online only providers?


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