India is experiencing the highest urbanization rate in East Asia with numerous small towns growing into mid-sized cities. Further, the mid-sized cities are also expanding with more investors moving into the country to expand their businesses. However, this together with the rising population in metropolitan areas is among the key factors facilitating the growth of every industry. This paper focuses on the ghost or as it is popularly known delivery-only restaurants in India. The paper examines the historical development of the delivery-only restaurants in India and the model used in this industry. With the approximation of 35% of Indias population expected to move to the urban areas by 2020, the business activities in those regions are also expected to rise. This includes the online-food ordering system that has become a common tradition in many societies today. Further, the establishment of institutions including higher learning centers has also fuelled the need to establish the online food ordering restaurants. Therefore, as people continue to engage in their daily business activities, the online ordering restaurants also continue to get busy with supplying people with the cuisines of their choice which is delivered to their doorsteps.
History of Delivery-Only Restaurants in India
Delivery-only or online food-ordering is increasingly becoming a habit for many people who cannot find time to cook in their homes (Hirschberg et al., 2016). This can be due to many hours spent at work or other commitments which all contribute to the desire to get already prepared meal online. Even though this lifestyle has mainly advanced in the western societies, but it has also reached East Asia as well, more specifically in India. The habit of ordering food online and getting delivered to ones doorstep can be traced with the emergence of the fast food industry in India (Advani, 2015). Since most of the meals ordered online are fast food even in the western societies, the emergence and rise of these companies in India created a platform for people to start preparing heavy meals as well. Fast food is a term that is used to describe the kind of meals that can be prepared and served quickly. This term has been used to refer to the meals that have a low quality of preparation. However, the term can mean many things including the foods that take few minutes to prepare. Not all the foods that are described as fast food have a low quality of preparation. Therefore, one cannot conclude that all foods prepared within a short period of time are low quality. The general perception that one should have concerning the fast food is that they include already prepared meals which can be heavy meals or light foods.
The concept of the delivery-only restaurant can be linked to the urban development in India. The cities have become busier with people going about their daily activities (Pandita, 2015). However, the concept of ready-cooked meals can be traced during the time of the Ancient Rome Emperor. People sold wine and bread in most of the streets of the ancient Rome cities. The same concept was adopted in many other places including East Asian cities. Even though most of the meals sold during the old times cannot be traced today, but with the advancement of technology and desire to change the eating habits new cuisines emerged in the market. Most of the popular Indian cuisines sold online include vada pav, panipuri as well as dahi vada. These are common and popular meals that one can find in any Indian restaurant both within India and across the world. In the Indian culture, most of the cuisines that are still popular up to date can be traced back to the prehistoric period with the early agricultural practices. However, the emergence of fast food industry started in the 19th century during the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution is associated with many things and changes among them include the increased working hours for laborers who were required to work between 10 to 12 hours a day. With this much time spent at work, fast food became the solution for the workers to get their lunch and get back to work on time. This culture emerged early in the 90s but was widely accepted later in the 1950s with many people starting to eat outside their homes (Pandita, 2015). The Indian culture before required people to eat at home and many people were used to this culture as well. However, changes started emerging gradually and today many people find it as easy as cooking at home convenient to order their lunch or sometimes dinner online and it gets delivered right to their doorsteps.
Even though urbanization is one of the factors that have significantly contributed to the development of the delivery-only restaurants in India, but there are other factors as well. For example, the rise of nuclear families, economic growth, and globalization are some other factors that have as well contributed to the gradual lifestyle change in India (Deutsch, 2017). Women in India are today shifting from their conventional and traditional responsibilities of caring for the children and managing the house to becoming executives and other areas of work. With these responsibilities they can no longer be dedicated to managing the house and other home responsibilities. Further, with the rise of literate generation, many people including women started joining the workforce which reduces the time people spend at home. Therefore, the already-cooked foods became an alternative to home cooking for many households. Unlike the old days, gender roles are today changing. More women have joined the job market and are now working outside their homestead contrary to what has been there in the Indian society. Therefore, they find no time to cook or their home. However, those who find time to stay at home still prefer to go for the already-cooked meals instead of cooking.
Customer sophistication and confidence is another key factor that contributes to the rise and growth of the delivery-only restaurants in India. Many people are becoming more sophisticated in their lifestyle as they no longer prefer to spend energy or even time doing the house chores. A large group of urban dwellers has gained confidence in the already-cooked meals because they are not only ready but also easy to serve (Posist, 2017). With the rise of cultural globalization, many Indians who have gained the privilege to visit or interact with people from other cultural backgrounds, especially the western cultures, have significantly been influenced by the western lifestyle. As a result, they no longer want to cook but they prefer to work long hours or have fun with the family while relying on the already-cooked meals.
The growing population of India has also contributed largely to the emergence and growth of delivery-only restaurants in the country. India is considered to be the second largest country in terms of population growth. As a result, the country has potential especially in the food industry (Hannon, 2012). This has resulted in the entry of various fast food restaurants which also influenced the development of delivery-only restaurants like Dabba Wallahs in Mumbai. The Indian fast food industry has transformed and evolved significantly, especially with the changing lifestyles of the young generation. Even though the concept of relying on the already-cooked foods was there before, but the online-ordering restaurants emerged a few years ago. However, the already established restaurants are using the traditional cuisines to prepare most of their dishes. Most of the meals prepared in the delivery-only restaurants have been adapted from the traditional cuisines. However, unlike the traditional meals that required more time to prepare most of the cuisines prepared today include reduced processing and serving time to keep the market demand. The emergence of dominant fast-food players like McDonald's, Domino and even KFC created a room for new entries including the delivery-only restaurants. However, the countrys youth population continues to fuel the growth of the consumer markets of the delivery-only products. College goers, young working generation, and exposure to the international environment and other outside cultures have all contributed to the demand for world-class lifestyle among the young people. Therefore, this has contributed greatly to the emergence of delivery-only service restaurants in India.
The business of preparing meals and delivering to clients up to their homes is undergoing a significant change in India today (Deutsch, 2017). New online platforms are emerging with the aim of meeting their customers demand of delivering meals of their choice to their doorsteps. As a result, this system has become a new way of capturing the market and consumers across Indias major cities. Apart from the above-discussed driving factors which are personal based reasons, there are environmental factors that have also fueled the growth of delivery-only restaurants in India. Low rent involved in doing this business has significantly attracted many people who simply require a small space for cooking and do not have to worry about the sitting space for clients. Delivery-only restaurants release the entrepreneur from the obligation of looking for a high-visibility area where it can attract many customers (Deutsch, 2017). Finding a store with a big space enough to accommodate clients, which is difficult to approximate may not be difficult but also costly in the major cities in India. This will mean that one has to set up a huge capital and other necessary documentation before starting the business. However, delivery-only can be handled in various places including the basements, incubators, even shared-use kitchens at home.
Secondly, establishing a restaurant in India requires more than just capital or money. It requires approval, inspection of the commercial kitchen which is expected to collaborate with the local health department, furnishing, and other necessary requirements. Since people who venture into the delivery-only service restaurants will have to avoid almost all these processes, the sector has been able to attract many individuals. Dabba Wallahs is a renowned delivery-only service system in India that has served the locals of Mumbai for decades. With over 5,000 deliverymen who deliver over 200,000 meals a day, this system has become an alternative to many people who rely significantly on the delivered meals (Posist, 2017). The dabbawallahs system has many networks that require the deliverymen to be on time in order to meet the clients expectations and demands.
The dabbawallah service in Mumbai started in the 1890s but not active until 1956 when a company was registered under the name Nutan Mumbai Tiffin box suppliers association (Pandita, 2015). This group started in 1890 with a hundred delivery men or as it was called 100 dabbawallahs (Pandita, 2015). As time goes, the demand for delivery lunch grew as many people working for long hours and having minimal time to get lunch in their respective homes. As the demand grew, the number of dabbawallahs also grew as well. The dabbawallahs grew to now over 5,000 deliverymen across the Mumbai city (Pandita, 2015). The system has been replicated in other cities like Bombay and it is growing across India. Even though it started as a system of picking up foods from each individuals home to their workplace in the 1890s, but it has grown into a new system where someone can book in the kitchen where the dabbawallahs will pick the lunchboxes and deliver them to the clients in different offices across the Mumbai city (Pandita, 2015). Other restaurants like McDonald's, Domino and KFC are also involved in the home delivery system but they do not rely on this strat...
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