GrabFood eater’s experiences are enhanced with technology. This is what I have learned during the Grab Tech Insider session last March 3. It was an interesting presentation conducted by Xiaole Kuang, Head of Engineering, Deliveries, from Grab Singapore. I enjoyed learning about GrabFood technology.
When we’re ordering our food through GrabFood, our experience is seamless and we get the food that we want. Personally, aside from using the app, I never really thought about the technology that goes with it. Sure, I know that once the order is placed, it’s then forwarded to the driver nearest the restaurant to pick up the food, pay for it, and bring it to me. But there’s actually more to that.
Grab is a southeast Asian company and it’s food delivery operations as far as technology is concerned starts with a regional perspective, localized to fit the country such as the Philippines. GrabFood Technology is built with the goal of delivering a delightful experience for users. And this is implemented the moment users browse the app, order, and wait for the food to arrive.
Imagine the work that has to be done? Relevance is ensured by localising the GrabFood homepages. It means they have to make sure that a user from Singapore sees a different home page from the one from Indonesia. And that includes the banner, categories, and the carousel. The recommended alternative option is presented whenever the user searched for a dish or restaurant that’s unavailable or has lesser options. Now, I can’t help but pay attention to what’s on the home page every time I open the Grab app and check GrabFood.
Through ranking logic, the GrabFood app is able to provide personalized recommendations based on browsing and order history. Other factors are restaurant popularity, estimated time of arrival (ETA), and driver availability. Now I know why I always see a Big Mac on GrabFood, haha! Personalization also happens in real-time. That’s why when I do search for a particular food or restaurant, I see relevant matches. GrabFood Technology is pretty cool and convenient.
Miss Kuang shared that in some countries like Singapore, GrabFood currently offers 5 types of ordering functions within the app – deliver-on-demand, self-pickup, scheduled delivery, group order, and mix-and-match. Although not all types of ordering service are available in the country, we were told that their goal is to roll it all out in all markets. I love to experience multiple ordering options in the future.
What’s interesting is that Grab has also worked on back-end GrabFood technology for merchant partners or restaurants too so that they can prepare the food ordered and make it available for pickup by food delivery riders within an acceptable time frame. There’s the Order Platform aimed to help order handling smooth. With the technology, merchants get an overview of all incoming orders, get updated information on whether the order is still on a queue or dispatched already, a branch’s operating hours, and other tools to help the restaurant be more efficient.
I guess that’s also the reason why at some point, we opted to order from GrabFood instead of going straight to a fast-food chain because Grab is able to deliver fast. That particular fast-food chain has been notorious for taking too long to deliver food ordered even if it was made on the phone.
This is an indication that when it comes to Grab’s food delivery technology, they don’t just look at localisation, but also to delight eaters, drive sustainable demand for merchant-partners, but also to protect customers’ experience, especially during crunch time. GrabFood technology also looks into the wait time by looking into on-time food preparation, optimising its fleet of riders through batching and reducing radius.
Wait time happens not only on the side of the customers who placed orders but also for delivery drivers picking up the food. This is where the importance of accurate food preparation time estimation becomes an important factor when calculating ETA which is reported to the user upon order placement. It’s really irritating to experience not getting the food delivered on time, especially when you’re already hungry.
To optimize the fleet through order batching, we were told that the GrabFood technology system can assign two or more consumer orders with nearby drop-off points that a driver can complete in a single trip. This happens usually happens during peak hours. In the Philippines, I think batching was made before the pandemic. I don’t think it happens now since whenever I pass by fast-food chains and restaurants these days, I see GrabFood riders congregating in one place seemingly waiting for a ping that they’ve been assigned to an order.
This is also true for radius reduction to optimize fleet. This happens during crunch times where there are too many orders and too few delivery riders in an area that eaters may have to wait very long for a delivery-rider. In such cases, it helps concentrate delivery riders within a smaller area to help improve order completion rates. This is also why users may encounter situations when a particular merchant is suddenly not available among the list of restaurants to order from.
Oh, the convenience of Grab and the GrabFood technology! I love it! Imagine if there’s no such app in today’s situation? Grab has grown tremendously from being simply a ride-sharing app to what it is now, a superapp! Glad to learn the technology behind GrabFood.