If there was one business segment in the UAE that has really blossomed during the Covid-19 pandemic it’s home delivery services.
The combination of lockdowns, curfews, and public anxieties over restaurants and bars has meant that people wanting chef-prepared food have been resorting to food delivery platforms in ever greater numbers.
Deliveroo, Talabat, and Uber Eats might have already an established part of the country’s dining scene, but 2020 was the moment they became ubiquitous – and essential. For one Dubai-based entrepreneur, though, there was still room for one more player in the market.
Qutaiba Al Ali is the CEO of Supermeal UAE, which he has introduced to the region after its successful launch in its native Britain. What has made Supermeal so appealing on its home territory is the availability of cashback and other rewards with every single order placed – and those same goals will be the bedrock of its offering in the UAE, too?
The main question, though, is whether there is sufficient demand for another online food ordering platform in a market where competition has already made profitability a distant prospect for even the most established players.
There are obviously a lot of food delivery companies/apps in the UAE market, why did you think there was room for one more? Was there research suggesting a gap in the market?
Q A: We all know how fast the food industry is growing in the UAE. With constant innovation, you see or hear about a new concept every other day. Having said that, yes, there is a gap for concepts that benefit all the parties involved in the business and we wanted to tap that and introduce something beneficial for everyone.
We want to be a part of this ever-growing eco-system because Supermeal is more than an online food ordering platform: we consider ourselves as a holistic food ordering concept and I believe we will create positive disruption in the market.
Supermeal considers itself as a holistic food ordering concept
What does this service offer that others don’t? Why does this offer a better service for the customer?
Good question! Our USP is to reward customers on every transaction they make on Supermeal in the form of instant cashback. This cashback can range up to 30 percent. In fact, customers can still earn cash even if they don’t order with features such as “Refer a Friend” and “Share n’ Reward”.
The best part is once you refer your friends, you will always get rewarded whenever they order, it’s not just a one-time thing. The same is the case with “Share n’ Reward” – which means whenever you place an order, you get to share your screen for guaranteed cash in your e-wallet.
These addons really amplify the customer experience and deliver them something which is unique. We’ve really made the whole experience seamless and easy to use.
There has been some controversy over the fees these companies charge restaurants – are yours in line with your competitors or do you offer better value? What other features do you offer restaurants?
Yes, I know how difficult it has been for restaurants, especially during this testing period where the pandemic has had an immense impact on our industry. As for Supermeal, we don’t charge them a sign-up fee, renewal fee, or any hidden charges. But we do charge a minimal commission rate.
We whole-heartedly support restaurants and would assist them with anything. Customers can use Supermeal for dine-in, take away and deliveries. Which means we can help restaurants boost their sales and footfall.
What has the pick-up rate among restaurants been like? Have you had to work hard to convince them that another online food ordering platform can help them?
That’s the thing, we’re not just any other online food ordering platform. We’ve already partnered up with most of the renowned restaurant groups in the region. It was easy after we explained to them what we do; they were pleasantly surprised when we interacted with them and introduced Supermeal.
Everyone knows other online food aggregators in the market, but we stood out since we’re bringing something new.
The relationship between online food aggregators and restaurants is already fragile, how do you plan to sustain it in the current scenario?
We’re the first food aggregator that will consistently give back to our partners and customers. This is how we function, and this feature is rooted in our business model.
What are your expectations for market growth in the UAE in the next 12 months?
I am confident about the market but also realistic. Right now, as we know, we have around 23m online food delivery users in the MENA region.
We see great potential for growth here. Keeping that in mind, we’re starting off with Dubai and expect it to be steady for a few months till we begin operations across other emirates. 2021 will mark 50 years for the UAE, so we’re looking forward to this golden period for Supermeal‘s growth.
Which other countries in the region are you targeting?
In the first wave, we want to expand our operations across the UAE and then gradually cover other countries in the GCC.
What has been your main lesson about the F&B sector or business in general during COVID? What has this moment taught you?
I feel any business that was consistent with innovation during this time did comparatively better than others.
They targeted those instant gaps in the market and offered solutions to consumers who were reluctant to step out.
I believe many F&B businesses did not have the right digital presence or partnerships that would have helped them stay afloat.
We realized how crucial it is for our industry to be on the same table in a crisis like this pandemic. This is why I feel Supermeal can make a great difference and help elevate the F&B sector in the country.