Swiggy: Scrolling through food

Published: Fri, 09/09/2016 - 07:15 Updated: Fri, 09/09/2016 - 07:19

With a gamut of food delivery apps flooding the market, Swiggy emerges as the disputed king of food delivery
Nikhil Thiyyar Delhi  

If you crave a certain type of food, there is definitely an app for it. One where you can browse and find recommendations for all that you actually or could possibly want. There are those that recommend different cuisines, then there are those which, similar to aggregators, allow you to mix and match, make combinations and/or bring together many dishes from different places at once. Finally, there are the apps of restaurants and food chains such as McDonald’s or Domino’s Pizzas. 

The years 2014 and ’15 saw the food-tech industry boom. Spearheaded by companies like foodpanda, tinyowl, zomato and several others, the market grew exponentially. Enticing users to order by offering unbelievable offers and discounts, these apps, funded by large investors, began to change the eating habits of Indians, who now more than ever before were looking for options outside the daily dal, roti and sabzi. With TV shows such as MasterChef gaining popularity, the middle class of India, driven by curiosity, looked for different answers to the age-old question of “Aaj khaane mein kya bana hai?” 

The app store is teeming with options of what can be brought in for lunch, dinner and even breakfast. Push notifications of the apps on your phone give you snippets of what one can order. After a brief survey, Hardnews zeroed in on three food apps that seem to be the flavour of the season, Fresh Menu, Swiggy and InnerChef. Admittedly, it would be unfair to club Swiggy with the other two but the way the app has come to occupy a central space in food conversations is phenomenal. 

Functionality of the app

At first look Swiggy’s app has all the bells and whistles worth mentioning. Users can order based on cuisine, budget, restaurant rating and time taken to deliver. The budget feature is the best feature hands-down. It sorts food into swathes of affordability. Given how price-senstive the Indian market is, this is important. The other features need some rethinking perhaps. Further exploration is where the chinks in the ‘app-mour’ appear. The cuisine options are usually fairly limited. The search for Parsi food will leave you with a lone ‘Rustom’. Tibetan food can also be hard to trace on the app. My desire to eat a Tingmo remains unfulfilled despite a lot of searching from different locations in South Delhi. For cuisines which are simply not available, it returns a generic reply of ‘Your tastes are unique’ in response to your search query. 

Mind you, delivery times listed are also slightly deceptive. Those listed as within 35 minutes usually turn up on time. Those listed as 41 minutes will probably take an hour. It's the ones in the 50-minute category which will take a long time. My order of sliced lamb black pepper from Chimney Sizzlers took roughly two hours during which I had to calm a growling stomach with a makeshift bread, butter and bhujia sandwich. The promise of being able to track your order loses its meaning when the delivery executive is supposedly out for delivery for the past hour and does not respond to your calls. If you know you are going to order an hour or two in advance then Swiggy is perfect. You can order and forget about it. Your food will turn up just in time. 

However, if you are looking for a solution to a rampaging desire for munchies or hunger pangs of equal intensity then look to the nearest restaurant or food stall. A word of caution here: Eating from street food stalls during the monsoons is probably a dumb thing to do, there are too many health risks involved. 

These grouses being openly stated, Swiggy is a new app still trying to figure itself out and in my experience it's quick to correct its mistakes. A call to their customer service was promptly attended to. As a happy ending of sorts my sliced lamb black pepper was delivered to me for free. 

Mind you, delivery times listed are also slightly deceptive. Those listed as within 35 minutes usually turn up on time. Those listed as 41 minutes will probably take an hour. It's the ones in the 50-minute category which will take a long time. My order of sliced lamb black pepper from Chimney Sizzlers took roughly two hours during which I had to calm a growling stomach with a makeshift bread, butter and bhujia sandwich. The promise of being able to track your order loses its meaning when the delivery executive is supposedly out for delivery for the past hour and does not respond to your calls

Quantity 

Here is the unsaid truth about ordering from outside. The more appetising the display picture and the more exciting the name sounds, rest assured the quantity of the food offered will be inversely proportional. This is something I experienced repeatedly with the Fresh Menu. So it is the rule of thumb I now follow while ordering. It is a good practice to adopt unless you want to be left grumbling about how awesome the ravioli and pasta was but how little of it was on offer. Most of the places I ordered from on Swiggy offered ample amounts of food to sate a grumbling stomach. However even Swiggy is not entirely free from the scourge of quantity scammers. An order from Dana Choga left me with a thali which had two spoons of rice, one paratha and two-three bland Indian dishes. Given the amount I had paid for the thali, I felt I had been conned. The quantity of food on offer with each dish is a feature which Swiggy should definitely think of adding. We can do without the misleading food porn. 

Quality 

This is where Swiggy wins in comparison to Inner Chef and Fresh Menu. Given the wide variety of restaurants on offer, there is something which will appeal to almost everyone’s taste buds. Sure, the availability of gourmet food is limited on the app but I don’t think Anton Ego from Ratatouille will be ordering and I am guessing neither will the true blue connoisseurs of food. In this respect the amount of delectable food is perhaps higher on Inner Chef, but there is a trade-off you have to make between taste buds and hunger. That is something I don’t like doing. Good-tasting food in ample quantity will always win over exquisite-tasting food in limited quantity.

Some thoughts 

As more and more young professionals join the workforce and the amount of disposable income waiting to be splurged rises, it will be apps like Swiggy, Fresh Menu and Inner Chef they will be turning to. Sure, the primary food provider in any bachelor home is usually a tiffin service but that hasn't stopped the rising demand for eating out or ordering in amongst youngsters. With growing taxes when going out, food apps like Swiggy manage to strike the delicate balance between affordability, taste and quantity.

With a gamut of food delivery apps flooding the market, Swiggy emerges as the disputed king of food delivery
Nikhil Thiyyar Delhi  

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This story is from print issue of HardNews