Google takes a swing at online food ordering with new app Areo

By Alnoor Peermohamed , Business Standard, Bengaluru | In Digital | April 14, 2017
Google already has a large pool of offline restaurants who list themselves on the platform.

Internet search giant Google is looking to take a swing at India's extremely turbulent FoodTech space and has launched Areo, an app that aggregates food delivery and home services for customers in Bengaluru and Mumbai.

Currently, Google has partnered with some of India's leading online restaurants - FreshMenu, Box8 and Fassos to facilitate food ordering on Areo. The service currently lacks any traditional restaurants, but a description of the app says the app will collate restaurants, providers and chefs.

Google will even facilitate payments either by credit/debit card, net banking and will also offer customers the option to pay service providers directly in cash. The company hasn't divulged any details of the service just yet, and it isn't clear if it charges a fee for every transaction.

While Google has traditionally chosen to partner with service aggregators, acting as a meta aggregator in some sense, with Areo the company seems to be going head to head with services such as Swiggy, FoodPanda and Zomato.

While only a few online players are part of the service for now, Google already has a large pool of offline restaurants who list themselves on the platform to be discovered by customers via Maps or its other services. Further, the entry of a large player like Google could upset the balance which has returned to the FoodTech space in India which saw a bloodbath in 2016.

Apart from online food ordering, Google is also looking to collate home services such as electricians, plumbers, beauticians on-demand. The company has so far tied up with Urban Clap, one of the leading home service providers in the country today. However, it is highly unlikely that Google will enable delivery services like other players such as Swiggy and FoodPanda.

Google has remained mum on the launch of the service in India, suggesting that it's still a pilot the company is running in two of India's most tech savvy cities.

As for the foodtech space in the country, high costs of customer acquisition and high customer attrition are among the major issues players have faced, but Google could be at an advantage because of its massive reach and control of the AdWords pipeline to bring in customers.

© 2017 Business Standard