In a tiff with online food delivery apps, Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association in Kochi has stopped accepting food orders through the apps of giants like Uber, Zomato and Swiggy, starting Saturday, December 1. Alienating customers from the existing business centres, and in the long term, totally dominating the market, is the prime reason cited by the association for boycotting the apps. The second reason, they say, is the huge commission charged by these apps.
They also said that in Thiruvananthapuram, the other city where the online food apps have become popular, restaurants will stop taking orders online in the coming days.
â€śThe online apps sell, for example, a ghee rice for Rs 60, when the price for the same at a restaurant is Rs 120. What will be the impression customers get, we the hoteliers are charging them double? This will alienate them from us,â€ť said Azeez Moosa, Ernakulam District President of the Association.
â€śThe truth is that we get 15 to 20% margin over a food item. After all, that is the strategy of the tech giants in the business fields they aim to penetrate. They first alienate customers from existing business centres, and eventually gain domination over them. The bizarre fact is that they give discounts to customers from the commission the restaurant owners give them,â€ť he explains.
â€śFor each food item sold out through an online app, we give 30% commission. Even if donâ€™t, giants like Uber can afford to give discounts,â€ť he adds.
Another argument by restaurant owners is that promoting online food delivery culture will affect their customer relationship.
â€śA customer may change his mind after stepping a restaurant; he wonâ€™t be eating the same food he had planned, he may eat more, sometimes less. By attracting them to restaurants, we are building a customer relationship, we get to know the customer satisfaction directly. Also when a customer has stepped out of home for eating out, he would also shop for clothes etc, which in turn boosts other business,â€ť Azeez Moosa says.
The association claims that the move has brought the online food delivery to a standstill in Kochi; however, customers say this is not true. â€śI have been a regular customer. Yesterday when I tried to order online, hotels around me were available on the app. Today I have seen vehicles of online delivery in action in the city,â€ť says Anjo Jose, a Corporate Communication professional in Kochi.
â€śWe have no difficulty ordering the food online. My friends and I are able to use the app as usual. Also we donâ€™t think all the restaurants affiliated with the association support the idea, especially those run by owners from other states,â€ť says Anil, who works with a private firm in Kochi.
The association maintains that they wonâ€™t depend on online apps for promoting business, and the online food delivery apps should reduce their commission if they want the businesses to continue working with them.