When hunger pangs hit hard, many Lebanese are increasingly turning to restaurant delivery services to satisfy their rumbling bellies. However, between searching for places that deliver to a specific area and scrolling through menus, to calling restaurants and describing exactly where you live or work, the process can be tedious.
Lebanon has seen no shortage of food delivery apps over the past few years, some serving more as directories and others going further to actually let users place orders through their platforms. One such app is Onlivery, a virtual food court that aims to facilitate delivery and eliminate calls to restaurants altogether. “Every time you want to order food you’re on a mission. Instead of going on this mission alone we can go with you and save you time,” explains COO Abed El Kader Majzoub. The app, available for iOS and Android, features over 400 restaurants that are filtered according to what’s available in the user’s vicinity. It shows full menus as well as estimated delivery time, fees, minimum charges and an option to customize your meals. Orders take just a few clicks and payment is made through the app or upon delivery, saving not only time, but, with Lebanon’s high call rates, also money.
According to Majzoub, the startup began as a response to a glaring need for people to save time in this daily search for food, but they weren’t the only ones to notice. When the Onlivery team began their research prior to launching, 17 similar concepts were simultaneously being developed in Lebanon, adding that initially several restaurants they approached discouraged them, saying that others before them had tried and failed. However, not all the ventures took off, leaving Onlivery, with its 200,000 downloads since the December 2014 launch one of the most popular app-based delivery services in Lebanon.
Majzoub says they are growing quickly and organically. To stay competitive, Onlivery, which is headed by founder and CEO Daniel Kofdrali, continuously offers free items and discounts at various outlets. They’ve had mass marketing campaigns and have even given away PlayStations and iPhones to users. According to Majzoub, one of the keys to their success is an emphasis on customer satisfaction. Their current rank on the Google Play store is 4.6 stars, which, according to Majzoub, is the highest rating for a food delivery app in the region. When the app was down one day while they were performing an upgrade, they received many emails from confused customers.
The app is free for users, while restaurants can be featured for free and are only charged a percentage if the app actually generates business. This is in contrast to other marketing and advertising platforms that charge regardless of whether they’ve actually had an impact, explains Majzoub.
Food delivery is an industry that is growing worldwide, and Majzoub says they are continuing to improve their business model. Onlivery will soon offer deliveries from their website, not just the app. They also plan to expand to other countries and possibly offer other types of deliveries. “Right now we connect users to restaurants, but we can also connect them to other companies,” Majzoub hints, without revealing details about future plans.