Global dietary habits are drastically altering. Until a few years ago, pizza and Chinese food were the only restaurant-quality meals that could be delivered. Today, the global industry for food delivery is worth more than $150 billion and has more than tripled since 2017.
Ready-to-eat food delivery has emerged as a significant market thanks to the development of enticing, user-friendly apps and tech-enabled driver networks, as well as shifting consumer expectations. Early on in the pandemic, lockdowns and physical distance limitations greatly boosted the category, with delivery turning as a lifeline for the struggling restaurant sector. But the biggest credit for the smooth functioning of these services goes to all those delivery agents who work tirelessly to make sure you get the comfort of food delivered right to your doorstep.
Today we are joined by one such hero who has shared his experience of working in this sector.
What does a typical working day look like?
I start my day at around 8 AM by logging into the app and then wait for the orders to come. There are hardly any orders in the morning, but start picking up pace post 12 PM. Once I get an order, I head to the restaurant to pick up the food. Depending on the distance between the restaurant and the customer, I might have to drive for a while before I reach the destination. I get around 10-12 deliveries in a day on average. Sometimes there are so many deliveries that I don’t even get the time to take breaks for my meals. But I have no complaints as the more the work, the more the money.
Have you ever had any unusual or challenging delivery requests?
Oh, definitely. While most of the customers are easy to deal with, there are a couple of deliveries that turn out to be challenging. Sometimes the GPS isn’t accurate, and customers refuse to co-operate with us on the same. The delivery time gets late which results in our incentives being cut. During one delivery, my bike got punctured, and I called the customer to let him know that the order would be delayed. He talked quite rudely and then cancelled the order citing-‘Driver asked to cancel’ reason, and my entire bonus for that day was nullified. I understand that the customers are waiting for their food, but it would be nice if they also considered our situation sometimes.
What are some of the challenges delivery partners are facing?
We have to face many unfavourable situations in this line of work. We earn 700-800 rupees in a day, and from this, we have to pay for our own fuel, which costs around 200-300 depending on the distance travelled. And for these 700 rupees, we many a times have to put our life in danger. We have the pressure of delivering the orders in as less time as possible, and that puts our lives in danger as we have to hustle through the traffic. And if by any chance we’re late by even a minute, we lose our entire incentive for that order.
I think this bit is unjustified as the road is unpredictable. We’d obviously not want the order to be delayed. Sometimes the restaurant hands us the order late and we can’t do anything in that situation. I just hope that the app owners try and understand our perspective as well.
How did the pandemic affect your work?
The pandemic brought challenges and concerns for us. We were still working but it was close to negligible. There were days when I got only one order throughout the whole day and sometimes not even that. People had stocked up groceries and were cooking at home and there was the lingering danger of catching the virus too. I have delivered the food to the homes of COVID-19 patients too. It was only after 2-3 months that the food delivery picked up pace. The whole period was overwhelming to say the least. But we got out of it and now it’s all back to normal.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love being out on the road and meeting different people. It’s also nice to know that I’m helping people get the food they want. The smile they get on receiving the hot meal is a sight to watch. Some people order extra food and hand it to us out of generosity. Some people offer us water when it’s hot outside and even ask us if we’re doing ok. Such gestures may not be a big thing for them, but I carry them as a happy memory with me for the entire day.