It has been more than 15 years since Talabat, an online food ordering platform was launched in Kuwait by two young and dynamic Kuwaiti entrepreneurs. Since its founding the company has seen many changes and even rebranding to become the largest food ordering platform in the Middle East, across seven countries with more than 4,300 restaurant partners.
In 2011 Talabat revamped with a new website and user interface which was followed by the launch of its all successful app in 2012. Suddenly Talabat changed both the eating habits and the restaurant choices of Kuwaitis, bringing new options and varieties to a country obsessed with food. Soon groceries and catering was added to make the Talabat app an indispensable part of many households.
Talabat gave the people of Kuwait options like never before, in the comfort of their home or office, meals were delivered anytime and anywhere. Offers became the buzzword and the more one ordered the better the offers became. It was a 24/7 operation and an experience that was hassle-free for the consumer.
Talabat owns no restaurant yet it simply became the largest food service company delivering thousands of meals a day, efficiently and profitably across the country. As people’s trust and reliability grew so did their business, bringing in a host of competitors all vying for the same business.
Expectation of the customer was high because Talabat set standards others had to follow. Suddenly ambience became less important than packaging. Presentation was also more important than taste, and prices and offers lured customers to order more, with reminders by notifications or emails to order food if they ever forgot.
A new generation of Kuwaiti entrepreneurs rushed to open restaurants in locations unheard of simply relying on Talabat to drive their business. Talabat not only served thousands of customers daily they also helped hundreds of restaurants keep afloat, even though they did this at a price that was steep and conditional to monopolistic practices.
This enviable position allowed Talabat to dictate terms to the restaurants they delivered food for with conditions that would prevent competition from entering the market.Being on the Talabat bandwagon could not be avoided, as even popular and reputed restaurants who initially resisted succumbed to their terms. The Talabat-isation was now complete.
Kuwait Competition Protection Authority (CPA) stepped in and Talabat was forced to remove the monopolistic provisions in their contract to restaurants. Now, two of the most popular food delivery companies, Talabat and Carriage, have decided to consolidate their operations under the Talabat brand.
While the consequence of this is yet to be seen, one thing is for sure, the food delivery business will never be the same again.
- An Expatriate
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