Thursday 05 October, 2023

Grab turns to dine-in services to stem fall in food delivery growth

We spotlight Grab’s foray into dine-in services and how Livspace and the Singapore Land Authority have denied claims of improper contract awarding.

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Hello readers,

There’s often more than one path we can take to reach the same endpoint. The universe, after all, has a mischievous sense of humor.

For instance, I’m wired to mapping platforms to reach a particular destination. Consequently, I get lost in my own hometown when I don’t have access to these apps. But others like my father, hardened by the inconveniences of the pre-smartphone era, can navigate the streets as if the map were on the back of their hands.

Similarly, there are many different ways to enter an industry. For example, India-based unicorn Swiggy jumped straight into food delivery while its rival Zomato started out as a portal offering restaurant listings and recommendations.

Likewise, Grab was a ride-hailing firm before it launched services like food delivery. But in its most recent quarter, its food delivery gross merchandise value showed signs of waning as more people reverted to dining out as the Covid-19 pandemic died down.

As a result, Grab has introduced a slew of new dine-in features in its bid to provide users the quintessential “end-to-end” experience.

Today’s featured piece assesses whether Grab’s latest venture could boost revenue meaningfully and cushion the persistent decline in its food delivery volumes.

Today we look at:

Whether Grab’s dine-in services can make up for lost ground in food delivery How Livspace and Singapore Land Authority have denied claims of improper contract awarding The US$47.7 million that Indonesia-based eFishery netted for its series D round Other newsy highlights such as a Deliveroo report forecasting how AI will change Singaporeans’ eating habits and dining experiences by 2040

— Shravanth

P.S.: If you’re an entrepreneur looking for funding, fill out this form to get your company featured on our list of fundraising startups.

Premium summary Deeper into the restaurant world

Image credit: Timmy Loen

For now, it remains unclear how much Grab plans to invest in restaurant services – if at all. The company is currently piloting dine-in features in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore.

In the city-state, the firm has partnered with over 100 F&B outlets to offer vouchers, a sliver of the more than 2 million merchants on its platform.

First come, first served?: Grab isn’t the first food delivery platform to go into the restaurants category. Foodpanda, a unit of Berlin-based Delivery Hero, has been offering a similar service for several years now. As of 2022, Foodpanda’s dine-in service includes over 8,000 restaurants across eight markets, with more than 100,000 users availing these discounts every month. Against the odds: Dine-in features hold potential for ad revenue, where restaurants pay to be featured more prominently, notes Abhisek Banerjee, lead internet and media analyst at ICICI Securities, which covers Zomato. However, this service alone is “unlikely to be enough to offset the stagnating growth in food delivery business,” he tells Tech in Asia. Rocky road: Grab faces numerous challenges if it’s serious about being in this space. Several brands on its app are mass market – casual dining places that drive high-frequency but small-ticket orders compared to high-end restaurants. This could limit the company’s ability to scale. And offering a standalone restaurant solution that only metes out deals may not be attractive for brands as it could result in reduced margins.

Read more: Can Grab’s dine-in services reverse a fall in food delivery growth?

News spotlight No conflict of interest here

Image credit: Timmy Loen

Livspace and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) have denied allegations that the Singapore-based interior design startup has been appointed for any of the government agency’s projects.

This comes after claims that the SLA had awarded contracts to the KKR-backed firm for refurbishing 26 Ridout Road, a state property rented by K Shanmugam, the city-state’s Minister for Law, via a bidding process run by the agency.

Family ties: Ravi Shanmugam, Livspace’s Southeast Asia CEO, is the son of K Shanmugam, whose ministry oversees the SLA. In a statement to Tech in Asia, Livspace called the claims “completely false and baseless.” Batting away rumors: K Shanmugam said in parliament on Monday that such allegations are “utterly false and defamatory.” The minister added that his son informed him that Livspace “does not have any contracts with SLA, nor that they do any work on the Ridout Road properties for SLA.” Origins of the fallout: The rumors come after K Shanmugam faced backlash in May, when he became a tenant at 26 Ridout Road. He was questioned if he was paying below fair market value for the high-valued property. However, the SLA previously said that the minister was the only bidder for the property who gave an offer above the agency’s guide rent.

See also: The Amazon of home decor eyes profits for SG unit after breaking even in India

Quick bytes

1️⃣ The biggest fish in the sea? Indonesia-based eFishery has raised an additional US$47.7 million for its series D, bringing the total funds raised for the round to nearly US$176 million and valuing the founders’ shares at over US$200 million combined. The startup supports aquaculture farmers through solutions such as B2B and supply marketplaces, smart feeding systems, and financing.

2️⃣ Changes at the top Grab Indonesia president Ridzki Kramadibrata has stepped down from his post and was appointed as a commissioner. With this move, the highest leadership position in Grab Indonesia is now held by country managing director Neneng Goenadi. During his stint, Kramadibrata helped Grab penetrate at least 100 cities in Indonesia.

3️⃣ Capital at a cost Thai crypto exchange Bitkub has agreed to sell a 9.22% stake to local game publisher Asphere Innovations for US$17.8 million. The sale will allow Bitkub to expand its digital asset services in Thailand, a country where over 6.2 million people owned crypto as of 2022.

4️⃣ AI leading the change Singaporeans can expect a significant shift in their eating habits and dining experiences by 2040, as immersive dining and personalized diets driven by AI tech will become the norm, according to a report by food delivery firm Deliveroo. The report also sees a future where food delivery services will use augmented imagery, audio, and packaging.

5️⃣ Sights on Saudi Cloud kitchen operator Rebel Foods will be expanding to Saudi Arabia to build a US$100 million food delivery business in the country. The Indian unicorn has partnered with Dubai-headquartered KitchenPark and Saudi-based Kitch, aiming to operate 60 cloud kitchens in its new market by the end of this year.

6️⃣ Hong Kong’s Web3 Avengers? Animoca Brands co-founder Yat Siu has been appointed to the Task Force on Promoting Web3 Development, a 15-member group that was recently established by the Hong Kong government. This comes after the city released a statement about virtual asset development that recognizes its significance in the Web3 ecosystem.


Shravanth Vijayakumar

Fascinated by all things tech, business and sport. Always down for a healthy discussion on these topics. Feel free to reach me at [email protected]

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