SINGAPORE: Food delivery service GrabFood is looking to introduce central kitchens in locations which have few eateries but see high demand "sometime this year", its Singapore head Lim Kell Jay told reporters during a media briefing on Tuesday (Apr 16).
"For areas which are relatively under-served, I think that’s where we can possibly set up a Grab kitchen and then invite the relevant merchants to those locations to provide deliveries," he said.
"I think the kitchen is something that will help all our customers."
Grab did not provide details on the number of kitchens and where they might be, only stating that it is still "doing our research and evaluating".
Last September, Grab introduced its Kitchen by GrabFood service in Indonesia so customers in locations with fewer eateries can get their food delivered with shorter booking times and lower delivery costs.
It has three central kitchens in Indonesia: Cideng and Keramat in Central Jakarta and Kedoya in West Jakarta.
But Grab's rivals in Singapore have already adopted this strategy. Foodpanda has central kitchens in Woodlands and Mandai, while Deliveroo has them in Katong and Lavender.
Still, Grab plans to trump the competition by getting "most, if not all" of the 10,000 food establishments registered with the National Environment Agency on its GrabFood app. The app currently has more than 5,000 merchants.
"Hopefully towards the end of the year, we’ll be able to onboard most of them," Mr Lim said.
He added that GrabFood will continue to add "local favourites" like famous hawkers to its offerings, which have included durians and IRVINS salted egg snacks.
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Beyond that, Mr Lim said GrabFood's "biggest difference" from the competition is the "entire Grab ecosystem".
"With a single app, you can book a ride, send a parcel, make a payment," he said. "It creates more use cases, and from our analysis, we see customers who use more services on our platform have a higher lifetime value with us."
GRABFOOD TO JOIN GRAB "SUPER APP"
This is also why Grab is bringing GrabFood into its "everyday super app".
Mr Lim said this will be beta-tested among a select number of users in Kallang, Marine Parade, Geylang and Bedok at the end of this month, before being expanded islandwide in May.
Southeast Singapore was chosen for the first beta phase as it represents "quite dense areas in terms of demand and restaurant supply".
Once the islandwide beta roll-out is complete, the current GrabFood app will be discontinued for all users.
Mr Lim said the move will benefit all users of the app.
Consumers will get a more seamless experience without having to download an extra app, and use Grab's in-app messaging to chat with riders, saving costs and removing the need to reveal mobile numbers.
Riders will be able to take on parcel deliveries and enjoy more benefits like discounts on motorcycle lubricants. Grab said it will introduce new healthcare benefits in the second half of 2019.
Merchants will get access to Grab's full customer base and see real-time locations of assigned riders, allowing them to better manage kitchen operations. Merchants can also use a new "temporary pause" feature to temporarily close their online store when the kitchen gets too busy.
Mr Lim also outlined upcoming features that he hopes will be rolled out in the next few months.
These include the ability to re-order in-app widgets for a more personalised experience, pre-order meals and see restaurant ratings based on consumer feedback.
Calling food delivery a "very strategic part of the business", Mr Lim revealed that GrabFood orders grew 25 per cent month-on-month on average from May 2018 to March 2019.
"We always try to see the perspective from the customer," he added. "As a customer, I don't just need to travel. I need to eat, pay and occasionally make deliveries. So, that's the lens we are trying to put on.
"From that perspective, we want to make it as simple and as frictionless as possible for customers to access these everyday services through one app."