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Restaurants plan platform to rival food aggregators



NEW DELHI : The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) is working on a technology platform that will offer online ordering, food delivery, loyalty programmes and contactless dining options as it seeks to minimize the dependence on online food aggregators.

The association, which represents over 600,000 businesses, said it will execute the plan once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

NRAI executives said it will “not be like another food aggregator”.

“We have taken a critical first step of taking control of our business through digital initiatives and we have formed specific small teams,” Anurag Katriar, president, NRAI, said in a covid-19 town hall on Wednesday.

The associations’ teams are working on finding and partnering alternative delivery and logistics companies, and even exploring the role of social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram to provide visibility and ordering facilities for restaurant partners.

NRAI’s offerings will also help restaurants lower delivery costs and manage their expenses and data better. It will enable online ordering in a more transparent way, said Thomas Fenn, member, managing committee of NRAI and founder of Mahabelly restaurant in New Delhi.

Last month, Zomato said it is working on contact-less dining features on its app to allow diners to use online menus, place orders, and make payments online when they visit restaurants. NRAI has similar plans.

The NRAI move comes at a time when restaurants have seen a steep decline in business due to India’s strict lockdown.

“We are looking for our own solution for contactless dining rather than waiting for an aggregator to come in. Again, a small team is working on it on behalf of NRAI. Similarly, a team is working on home delivery solutions, it is 10-12% of our business today,” said Katriar, while pointing out that aggregators charging hefty commissions on deliveries have become a strain on small restaurant owners.

“The bottom line is, the time has come for us to actually work together and identify technology solutions and take ownership of this digital ordering space for ourselves,” Fenn of Mahabelly added.

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