Thailand: Grab, Get duke it out over food delivery

Super-apps Grab and Get have been locked in competition over the food delivery market, which is thriving as the “lazy economy” grows.

The two unicorn startups have claimed strong growth for their delivery services, but ride-hailing services may see a reshuffle with the government expected to legalise the services next March.

“This is an exciting year for Grab in Thailand, as in the past 10 months we achieved over 120 million bookings across all services,” said Tarin Thaniyavarn, country head of Grab Thailand.

GrabFood is a “service hero” that mainly contributed to this high volume of bookings, he said. “It is the largest, fastest and No.1 food delivery platform in Thailand.”

GrabFood registered 4 million transactions or bookings in the first four months of this year, compared with 3 million throughout last year.

According to market research unit Kantar, in the third quarter of 2019, 54% of 599 consumers surveyed said GrabFood was often used for their food delivery.

Mr Tarin said the hyper-competition among the players, which rolled out various promotions, played a part in boosting the use of food delivery apps.

The lazy economy will present more opportunities for on-demand services, he said.

Food delivery apps are in an early stage and account for a small portion of the total food industry, Mr Tarin said.

To boost the segment’s momentum, Grab will expand GrabFood service to 30 provinces from the current 14.

Mr Tarin acknowledged the declining revenue of Grab drivers but said more incentives will be provided to attract them.

Grab provides ride-hailing service in 20 cities of 18 provinces and aims to expand more in second-tier cities that have a high number of tourists.

Grab has yet to make a profit from its operations because of intense competition, Mr Tarin said.

Strategies for profitability, he said, have been hammered out but cannot be disclosed now.

Get Thailand, the local arm of Indonesia’s ride-hailing app Go-Jek, said it recorded 10 million trips in Bangkok for all services since the launch in February this year.

“The major contributor of the growth is the Get Food service, which uses artificial intelligence to provide menus that suit each customer,” said Wongtippa Wisetkasem, Get’s director of platform operations.

Get’s major customer group is millennials, the demographic cohort between Gen Z and Gen Y (aged 23-39) who grew up in the era of technology development, she said.

“In a month, Get has over 300,000 orders of bubble milk tea, which indicates the continual rise of the bubble milk tea era,” Ms Wongtippa said. “Apart from drinks and meals, snacking is a popular habit for Bangkokians.”