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Delivery businesses boom as market busts

As curfews force keep people at home, food delivery services step up to fulfill a growing market need

Prior to the pandemic, many restaurants were hesitant to join delivery platforms or outsource their delivery. (Photo: Unsplash)
Prior to the pandemic, many restaurants were hesitant to join delivery platforms or outsource their delivery. (Photo: Unsplash)
AMMAN — While ongoing curfew restrictions limit people’s mobility across the Kingdom, food delivery services have become increasingly important to Jordanian society. Not only do they serve consumers who are unable to leave their homes, but they also drive traffic to restaurants and offer employment opportunities. اضافة اعلان

“The business has grown almost eight to nine times, easily, since the onset of COVID-19,” Talabat’s managing director Hala Siraj said in an interview with Jordan News. “This also translates into the number of economic opportunities that we are able to give drivers.”

Prior to the pandemic, many restaurants were hesitant to join delivery platforms or outsource their delivery, explained Siraj. “Then, they started to understand the value of working with an entity like Talabat, where they were able to offload the logistics component to us,” she said. This is why the business was able to grow rapidly throughout this period, allowing them to onboard a multitude of drivers who were struggling economically throughout the lockdown.

The delivery business can be divided into pure delivery services that work in collaboration with restaurants and dynamic platforms or applications that can be used by consumers, explained Karim Azar, executive chef at Henny’s Wicked Chicken in an interview with Jordan News.  

“Some restaurants consider the applications as a marketing expense because the exposure the restaurant gets on these platforms is high,” said Azar. “A lot of people find them very convenient to use.”

COVID-19 restrictions drastically impacted the restaurant sector, as increased costs for sanitization and protective equipment, lower restaurant occupancy rates, and government regulations limited their business, Azar explained.

“The curfew also restricted the number of people who can come to the restaurant itself, and this is where the delivery industry started growing,” he said. 

The food delivery sector in Jordan is subject to regularly updated government regulations. This includes working hours, permits, and safety protocols. 

“Our working hours depend on what the government regulates,” said Jad Al Sawalka, founder of delivery app Utrac, in an interview with Jordan News. “We also needed to add a team to ensure all our drivers are following safety protocols.” These regulations, explains Sawalka, are costly.

“Every morning we had to sanitize our cars. The masks, gloves, and other protective equipment were also an added cost.”

While this boom attracted some into the industry, good quality, strong service, and safety protocols are needed to keep companies competitive. 

“Food delivery is a pretty sticky business,” Siraj said. “If you try a really good food delivery provider and you have a good experience, you’re likely to stay on that platform, as long as they’re offering a variety of restaurants, and are reliable in the service that they’re providing.”

Gaining a strong foothold in this industry is valuable, as the community’s reliance on food delivery systems is expected to last even after restrictions ease. 

“This sector grew throughout the pandemic; our capacity increased from 50 to 70 orders a day to 400 to 450 orders a day,” said Wedeliver founder Abdulkareem Nabulsi in an interview with Jordan News. “When lockdowns ease and life goes back to normal, we will continue expanding because there is potential in the market.” 

This growth throughout the country even promoted innovation in the sector through ghost kitchens and dark stores. These are stores and restaurants that are only open to delivery services, not walk-in customers. 

“These have done really well, and we opened up our eighth or ninth dark store in the country, within the span of a couple of months,” said Siraj regarding Talabat’s Tmart service. “That’s a game-changer in terms of how people are doing their shopping.”

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