Growing during Pandemic

The food delivery service Foodpanda witnessed phenomenal growth during the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping restaurants running by providing them with the needed delivery service and the foodies serving delights from their favourite food joint. foodpanda Bangladesh Co-founder and Managing Director Ambareen Reza speak to Colors Arka Dev Biswas on how the business has remained afloat when all businesses have been struggling.

For Ambareen, society comes first

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year no one had any idea on what to do or how long this would last. More than one and a half years into the epidemic everyone is learning to live with it: Companies are going back to their drawing board to revisit and recalibrate business plans. Despite the COVID-induced new normal situation and even in lockdowns, Foodpanda has been able to retain its growth and witnessed its service demands kept on growing. 

Lockdowns have forced people to move to digital space for banking to all other essential services. Pandemic has created the situation for App-based marketing solutions to leapfrog to newer heights.

So how did Foodpanda manage to operate and grow its business during the pandemic?  Foodpanda Bangladesh Co-founder and Managing Director Ambareen Reza said, ‘Since the beginning of the pandemic, all of us at foodpanda have learnt to be more agile’. Despite the uncertainties around, they prepared to adjust to the new normal. Talking about the positive mindset at the helm of affairs, she said, ‘Our primary goal has been to support our community of customers, riders, and restaurant partners. We have taken several initiatives to extend our support to our network during these trying times. Additionally, we chose to focus on expansion in an effort to make our services accessible to both customers and entrepreneurs across the country, while giving riders a platform to work’.

In 2013, she started Foodpanda Bangladesh with a handful of team members and has been working to create an ecosystem that mutually benefits their customers, riders, and vendor partners. Reflecting on the ecosystem, she said that they had onboarded thousands of home chefs, most of whom were women, and given them a platform through which they can sell their home-cooked meals, snacks, and treats. They have helped around 20,000 restaurant partners to establish a digital presence. This network support allowed them to generate revenue from the digital channels despite a global pandemic.

Having a strong digital presence has helped restaurants and shops to engage and communicate with their consumer base better. Along with expanding, they have introduced new verticals and services such as pandamart shops, pick-up, and home chef program, foodpanda for business, and pandago which is a new logistics-as-a-service solution. All of these have created opportunities for small businesses across the country to build their digital presence and have enabled these businesses to tap into the digital ecosystem.

With travel restrictions in place, the question becomes as to how a business survives which depended on travelling between points to ensure they can cater their services. Responding to this she said, “We have worked closely with the government to ensure that food and grocery delivery services are considered as emergency services – in line with the norm like in other countries. As a result of our coordinated efforts, food and grocery delivery have been exempted from the purview of the recent lockdown and restrictions.  We have stood beside our restaurant partners to ensure that they can keep their kitchens open for delivery and takeaway, while also making sure that our riders can keep working and earning”. That certain essential services are imperative to keep people, economy, and businesses afloat is what kept Foodpanda thriving.

With their countrywide network, they are making it possible for people to stay home while remaining on the frontline, delivering essentials to their doorsteps. They are also diligently working to ensure that their riders, pandamart staff, and restaurant partners abide by health safety precautions to keep the community at large as safe as possible.

Members of Foodpanda are a family to Ambareen Reza

A risk-free workplace is a must-have for every company and in this time of the pandemic, it becomes pivotal to maintain safety before anything else. Foodpanda takes every necessary precaution to protect its employees and customers. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, ‘Over the last few months, we have taken several initiatives to keep our riders safe. Some of these initiatives include ensuring insurance for them, providing on the job riders with care packages, and equipping our frontline forces with masks, sanitiser, and other supplies. We have ensured that the staff in our pandamart dark stores practice proper hygiene and ensure sourcing and handling of products is done with safety and hygiene in mind. We have ensured temperature checks of all staff and riders when they begin their shift, and we have worked to make contactless delivery and digital payment a reality.’ 

As they move ahead, their main concern became that they would have to keep continuing to expand and help entrepreneurs digitally transform their businesses. She explained that along with helping entrepreneurs to digitally transform their businesses they need to keep focusing on operational excellence so that the customers and partners always enjoy superior service and quick help from the platform.

Foodpanda’s latest development has seen them venture into the world of quick commerce through the introduction of Foodpanda shops and their pandamart dark stores. These stores are offering delivery of groceries and other essentials within 30 minutes. In less than a year, they have been able to expand their pandamart dark stores in 25 locations across the capital and other major cities. They have also introduced 24/7 grocery delivery services through pandamart which is a first in the country.

They have launched Foodpanda for business recently aiming to cater to the meal demand of corporations. This is a one-click solution with a transparent and streamlined billing process.

They have also launched a pick-up service within the Foodpanda app and website with the aim to add greater convenience for their customers and restaurant partners alike. They have also introduced pandago recently, which is a logistics-as-a-service solution. Essentially, pandago provides businesses, merchants, and vendors with quick and reliable package delivery services.

When asked about her plan for the future of Foodpanda she said, ‘As we grow and expand to new areas, we continue to prioritize community empowerment. We will continue to expand to new areas to serve even more customers and to give smaller merchants a platform via which they can go digital and increase their revenue and presence. We will also continue to support riders by giving them a platform to generate income through flexible working practices. We plan to create more job opportunities in the technology sector. As we grow, we envision expanding the reach of our pandamart dark stores and strengthening our e-commerce operation so that everyone can experience and begin to expect speedy and convenient delivery.’
Talking about empowerment she proudly said, ‘We have recently trained and onboarded riders from the transgender community. Moving forward, we hope to welcome even more transgender individuals to the Foodpanda family.’

 Ambareen Reza expressed her commitment and concluded the interview by saying, ‘Foodpanda we will continue to contribute to the community and economy in a positive way.’

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