Ola had earlier shut down its food delivery venture Ola Cafe after it faced stiff competition from other food delivery companies such as Swiggy, Tinyowl, and Zomato
Over a year and a half after Softbank-backed ride-hailing service provider Ola shut down its food delivery business Ola Cafe, the firm is looking to get back to the game and compete with UberEats, according to one person privy to the development.
"Currently bikes are being used for passenger transport but we are also exploring avenues if we can use bikes for transporting goods. It would be food delivery, last mile delivery etc," said a senior executive requesting anonymity.
"The company is in a planning mode and a pilot hasn't been decided yet," the person added.
Ola shut down Ola Cafe after it faced stiff competition from other food delivery companies such as Swiggy, Tinyowl (now part of Runnr) and Zomato.
Ola Cafe, while it was operational, did not offer the entire menu of the restaurants to the customers, unlike others. Instead, it curated a set of five to seven items from a bunch of restaurants in the consumer's vicinity. The aim was to deliver the food in 15 minutes to the customers.
"Cafe was a completely different model. It had to be super hyperlocal in nature. We had to tie up with restaurants in every possible geography. Scaling that would have required a lot of money," said the person quoted above adding that this business would broadly focus on delivery for specified restaurant partners and will not be anywhere close to the previous business.
Notably, Ola has a partnership with restaurant search and food ordering platform Zomato to cross offer services. The partnership which was announced in June allows customers to make bookings for Ola rides while looking up for food and restaurant options on Zomato. Zomato partnered restaurants have also been setting up special zones to help customers make Ola bookings.
A second person close to the development said that to begin with, the delivery services can be offered to the Zomato partnered restaurants. There was no immediate clarity on whether this would work on a revenue share or a fixed fee basis.
Ola launched its bike taxi service during early 2016 and offers a ride of around three kilometers for a flat rate of around Rs 30.
While the company can double up these bikes for delivering food and goods, they might as well expand their delivery fleet once the service goes live.
Conventionally it is a logical extension for bike taxi firms to get into the delivery business. Bike taxis are usually high in demand during office opening and closing hours and the delivery business ensures that the company is able to optimally utilise their bikers during low demand hours.
Rival Uber also runs its food delivery service Uber Eats which it launched in India in May. The app allows users to schedule orders, curate restaurants, personalise taste preferences and track the delivery.Ola did not respond to an email query sent in connection with this story.
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