Google is Testing Food Delivery Services in India, Upping Competition with Amazon and Walmart
Google will soon begin delivering food in India, with pilot programs already running in New Dehli, according to an ET Now report. Google will fill orders in partnership with Indian food delivery startups already in operation. The expansion of the program may also bring Google Assistant-powered food ordering, adding new competition to an intensifying rivalry between Amazon and Walmart subsidiary Flipkart.
The food delivery service described essentially exports Google’s food delivery feature in the United States. People searching on Google for restaurants will be presented with nearby options that deliver food and be able to complete their order on the website through Google Pay. The actual delivery will be done by delivery companies like Dunzo, the first Indian startup invested in by Google. Dunzo recently revamped its interface, likely to better prepare for the new program. The startup may not be the only one to facilitate Google’s plans, however.
In the U.S., Google can also fill food orders using Google Assistant. There’s no evidence yet that the Indian version is incorporating that aspect yet, but there’s plenty of reasons Google will likely include the option or add it in the near future. Google and Carrefour, a French retail chain, are already collaborating on a voice-based grocery shopping service that uses Google Assistant to search for and purchase groceries. While Carrefour’s voice shopping doesn’t use Google Assistant to complete the purchase, French and Indian food shoppers may soon get that option as Google is testing program that uses Voice Match to allow people to buy things solely using their voice after improving the security and accuracy of Voice Match’s setup process and making Voice Match available on any Google Assistant-powered device. And Google has been diligent in bringing new Google Assistant features to India, including adding new languages and a way to reach the voice assistant by calling a phone number.
The other main reason Google may turn to Google Assistant to aid its food delivery plans is how Amazon and Walmart have already begun theirs. Flipkart, which Walmart acquired last year, set up a voice assistant to enable customers to browse and shop Flipkart’s Supermart grocery store online in English and Hindi, with plans in the works for additional stores and languages. The AI automatically identifies whether the speaker is using Hindi or English, and can even grasp a mixed language order, responding according to the language the user speaks on Flipkart’s Android mobile app, although iOS and web versions are in development. Amazon’s competition with Flipkart heated up when Amazon added voice shopping by integrating Alexa into its Android mobile app. It then debuted its Amazon Food delivery service in some parts of India through Amazon Prime.
The skyrocketing demand for food and other delivery services engendered by the COVID-19 lockdown hasn’t been all good for restaurants and consumers in India. The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has issued several complaints about the two biggest such platforms in the country, Zomato and Swiggy. The two platforms handle 90% of Indian food delivery, but have been accused of favoritism to some restaurants and overcharging in commissions, which can be as much as 25% of an order. Google, Amazon, and Walmart’s ambitions mean the market will evolve rapidly, even as grocery stores and restaurants begin to reopen.