I'm usually suspicious when my two loves of food and tech collide.
It's probably because we don't have a fantastic track record in Ireland, where hosts still rely on a scribbled book for reservations and restaurants regularly suffer from "no shows" because they take bookings over the phone and rely on goodwill.
Whatever about the eat-in experience, though, one area you'd always think tech could really reinvent is food. I've tried using Just Eat, and it works fine, but the problem for me is choice – the options, if you want to have food delivered in Dublin, are pretty much limited to pizza, Chinese, Indian or Thai.
And after a while ordering the same old shite gets seriously tiresome.
I'd been hearing a lot about Deliveroo in the past month or so, and have watched them grow in London. The idea sounds a lot like Just Eat on the surface, only it's designed for restaurants that didn't previously do deliveries – meaning the likes of Bunsen, Dillingers, Carluccios, Unicorn and SMS/Cervi are now viable options to eat at home.
Sounds good on paper, but then this has been done a few times before around the world and it's generally turned out to be absolutely shit. Benefit of the doubt, though, and craving some Super Miss Sue without being arsed to leave my gaff, I decided to give it a whirl.
Trying to break the system
Being the awkward fucker that I am I decided to pick pretty much the hardest food to cook and keep warm. I also made sure to order at the busiest times for traffic and kitchens... not to be cruel (!) but just to test it out properly. For you readers, obviously.
So two meals – one from Super Miss Sue and one from Carluccios. I live in D8 so getting them to me at those times was cutting across rush hour traffic.
And that's when things started going... well, right. From my first interaction with the site it was the best experience I've ever had ordering food – a complete game changer in terms of design and UI, which may sound like nerdy bonuses but are absolutely crucial to this kind of thing. I had everything done in about 15 clicks on my first order, and the second time took me about seven clicks. Which, if anything, made me feel like I was messing something up!
You can track the order as it's prepared, in transit and on every stage of the journey – which, to be fair, is pretty standard – but it also gives you an expected delivery time to the minute. An actual delivery time, as opposed to a worst-case scenario you get in so many other cases. For me the driver came in exactly 27 minutes (both times) and the company says the average is 32 minutes. As you can see from the pictures below the food was fresh and delicious – and as you can't see, it was still 80% hot.
Why will this work?
Delivery services are nothing new. I remember one about a decade ago that does the exact same thing as Deliveroo does now with a big thick menu and you could phone in the numbers. The reasons why this is different if for the following reasons...
- Pretty much everybody has a smartphone
- Paying online has become much more frictionless
- World class UI and design mean it's easier than any other method
The VC and investment community around the world are obsessed with boring old businesses like logistics and delivery today. Businesses that haven't changed for generations but which can now change overnight because of new technology – everybody wants to become the "Uber of something" and the delivery of food is a huge business.
While these businesses haven't done great in the past, Deliveroo will be the business that nails this in Ireland – it's that perfect mixture of timing, context, infrastructure and execution that nobody's had before.
Just like you now "Hailo" instead of getting a taxi you'll soon just Deliveroo when you are hungry and don't want to go out – and when a business becomes an everyday verb, you know something big is happening.
When eating my second meal of the day I could just as easily have been in the restaurant but I was sitting in my boxer shorts (enjoy that visual) eating piping hot restaurant standard food 27 minutes after pushing a button. Everything was superb, hot and convenient.
When I think of Deliveroo, I think of that famous Steve Jobs quote he used when talking about the original iPhone. There had been hundreds, if not thousands, of phones in the past but none of them 'did' the internet right. Just like the iPhone, Deliveroo takes something incredibly complex – far more complex, in fact, than existing delivery services due to the integration of restaurants that don't have a delivery infrastructure already in place – and makes it work. Simple as.
You'll be using it a lot, mark my words.