Hyderabad is warming up to the idea of ordering food online, reports Vishnupriya Bhandaram

It is 9 p.m.; a group of 20-somethings are suffering hunger pangs at a friend’s house. One wants to order Taiwanese, another wants to eat Indian and another, Chinese. The list of demands is endless and with a swipe on a smart-phone, they have placed orders to please their hungry souls. The price? A small delivery charge. With growing incomes and lesser responsibilities, a small fee is a ‘no-brainer’ for many customers.

If you take a look at Google trends for the terms, ‘order online’, ‘order food online’, ‘free home-delivery’ and ‘pizza delivery’ with an area search, you’ll find they have an average of 54 hits out of a 100. While the restaurant and fine-dining business is booming, many restaurants are joining forces with delivery services to make a fast buck. In the past two years, Hyderabad and e-commerce, especially among food delivery portals have seen an increase. In the beginning it was just the limited menu dial-a-meal service but the web now hosts many others like Pick ‘n’ Deliver, Khana Express, Foods, Dial-a-delivery, Getmefood.in and more. Each website offers one extra feature in terms of the other websites. In fact, bigger e-commerce portals like FoodPanda.in, which cater to people in cities like New Delhi and Bengaluru, are now trying to get a foothold in Hyderabad.

Danish Rahman who runs Khana Express.com started the website last year and he says that the number of people ordering food online is increasing by the day. Danish claims that he has got a regular set of customers who place 4-5 orders in a week. Danish worked towards Khana Express out of his reality of belonging to the new-age family, where both the husband and wife work hence no time to cook! Venkat Bagam started Pick-N-Deliver in late 2011, because he saw that cities like Bangalore had cashed in on e-commerce and decided to tap the otherwise unexplored market of food delivery.

Ashish Yadav who runs his own business, orders food on a regular basis. “If it is from a place near my house, I make a call to restaurant directly. I use Khana Express or a service like Foodys to get food from specific restaurants,” he says. While you need to make a minimum order purchase on some portals, websites like Khana Express have a fixed delivery charges that depend on the distance, allowing for them to bring orders even for one person. Snehil Godavarthi is still sceptical of ordering online, as he feels that the quality and quantity might be in question; Rashmi T. agrees, “Last time when I ordered food through a portal from a high-end restaurant, the food came in different boxes and obviously didn’t taste right,” she says. Samyuktha Meka, a software engineer prefers ordering in, especially her groceries.

“Except when the idea is to go out and eat, I would rather have someone else do the job for me and bring my food to my door. The extra cost that we pay is not heavy on the pocket,” claims Samyuktha.

For consumers

With food delivery portals, you get a wide array of choice. The distance doesn’t matter because you pay a delivery charge. Many portals guarantee hot food within a time limit, so you don’t have to worry about your food getting cold or soggy.

For restaurant owners

Most of these food portals have their own delivery-men, so they do the job for you. While they get the benefit of levying a delivery charge, restaurants can benefit from their food being served to customers.