Doorstep delivery, which was once considered a luxury, is now recognized as convenience and is rapidly gaining popularity amongst retailers such as UberEATS, Postmates, Deliveroo, Amazon, Grub Hub, etc.
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The process is relatively simple compared to operating a food delivery system out of a brick and mortar food establishment: a restaurant signs up with the application, such as UberEATS, to be listed in the delivery radius and be made accessible by potential customers using the app. Keywords, such as type of cuisine and popular dishes, help rank a restaurant’s position in the app based on the users’ preferences. Once a selection has been made by the customer, the confirmation of the order and bill payment process is the same as ordering from Amazon—very straightforward with limited clicks.
The interesting bit begins after the payment goes through and the customer’s location has been pinned via GPS.
Two streams of communication open up: one between the customer’s smart device and the restaurant to confirm it can deliver to the customer’s area within the expected timeframe, and the other between the restaurant and a driver nearby to pick up and deliver the order to the customer. Different food delivery services have their own requirements that are, for the most part, developed around auto insurance, personal background checks, and vehicle requirements ranging from a bicycle to a car. Countries like Singapore encourage pedestrians that are registered with UberEATS to deliver via the app on foot.
More often than not, the area that gets missed under pre-requisites is, unfortunately, food safety.
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During my recent trip to Dubai, I was surprised to learn how food safety management by UberEATS is in fact more stringent than what is traditionally practiced in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Unlike the delivery process entailed above, the Dubai Municipality mandates that only registered food handlers with a registered food delivery vehicle can deliver food to customers. A dedicated and regulated food delivery agency has been set up for this purpose, allowing seamless food delivery to those who use the app. Their rationale is that this not only ensures better food safety management, but can also be traced door-to-door—from the restaurant, to the food delivery partner, all the way to the end user. It’s also reassuring to learn that the use of general purpose vehicles for food delivery are prohibited under Dubai’s Food Code.
Food delivery through mobile applications is the tip of the iceberg that is big data. In this digital age, the need for better data analyses has increased and will continue to grow to support sales and marketing initiatives of various brands.
That being said, there is no reason for food safety to take the backseat (pun not intended), and can in fact be a part of the bigger picture through blockchain. However, for these positive changes to come into effect, food delivery corporations need to ask themselves if they are willing to make food safety a part of their applications’ algorithm.