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Deep discounts: Restaurants, online food aggregators battle it out (Lead)

Friday - August 16, 2019 6:40 pm , Category : BUSINESS
New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) With hundreds of restaurants under the umbrella of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) coming out in the open to challenge the deep discounting practices of online food aggregators like Zomato Gold and Dineout, the war over who controls the palate of Indians has intensified.
Nearly 300 restaurants in Gurgaon on Thursday observed a #Logout campaign, delisting themselves from platforms such as Zomato Gold, EazyDiner and Dineout's Gourmet Passport, among others.
According to NRAI president Rahul Singh, the situation is now aggravated through the anytime, anywhere, any day discounting behaviour by aggregators.
According to reports, Zomato in an email has asked its Gold restaurant partners to serve a notice of 45 days if they wish to opt out.
The company on Friday told IANS that it has been in touch with the restaurant industry to discuss their feedback and address any issues they may be facing as a part of its offerings.
"It includes discussion that happened with respect to our new product, 'Infinity Dining', last week between Zomato leadership and NRAI managing committee members. It was extremely surprising for us to see a campaign of this nature being launched without the restaurant committee even calling for any discussion regarding the same," Zomato told IANS.
"We have still not received any invitation for a discussion on this topic, but we remain open to any conversations to resolve ongoing issues," it added.
Home-grown restaurant search and delivery platform Zomato last month introduced the "Infinity Dining" plan for its "Gold" subscribers that allows them to have unlimited a la carte at partner restaurants.
The plan was introduced in partnership with 350 restaurants - with at least a 3.5 rating -- in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Meanwhile, the restaurants under the NRAI in Delhi and Mumbai have also threatened to delist from online dining platforms.
"As of now, less than 1 per cent of the restaurant partner base of Gold has supported the challenges raised by the NRAI earlier this week. We are actively engaging with our restaurant partners to discuss and resolve any issues that they might have and we continue to sign up new restaurants on Gold to bring more choice to users," said Zomato.
The game is on as according to a recent study by business consultancy firm Market Research Future, the online food ordering market in India is likely to grow at over 16 per cent annually to touch $17.02 billion by 2023.
The findings showed that 95 per cent of the respondents surveyed order food online, owing to promotional offers and discounts, while 84 per cent said it is hassle-free and time-saving.
According to Ankit Mehrotra, Co-founder and CEO, Dineout, being the largest dining out and tech platform in the country, his company is always looking to build a more sustainable and viable ecosystem for both its restaurant partners and the users using the Dineout platform.
"As a platform, we certainly don't believe in the concept of deep discounting. On our platform, we have persisted with sustainable discounts which works really well for both the consumer as well as the restaurants to fill up their restaurants throughout the day," Mehrotra said in a statement.
"Over and beyond, even our premium offering of 'Gourmet Passport' limits the redemption to only three coupons per restaurant. In consultation with the restaurants, we run promotional campaigns for shorter durations (and not through the year) such as the "Great Indian Restaurant Festival" which gives a higher discount to the consumer but for only limited covers per restaurant per day," Mehrotra elaborated.
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) officials met representatives from online food delivery firms and offline industry leaders last month and directed them to sit and solve their differences and boost equitable growth in the industry.
The meeting was called to discuss issues such as deep discounting and opening up of private label brands by the online food platforms that has affected the operations of offline restaurants across the country.

--IANS na/