Online Portals for Food Delivery in Train – The New Startups Clan in India

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A new category of startups has emerged in online food delivery market of India and acted as a reform of food system in Indian railways.  We’re calling it new because never did any of us expect to get our favorite meals delivered from an outside supplier in train. Few entrepreneurs have made it happen by creating online platforms that deliver food orders in train as per the journey schedule of passengers. That literally means you can get your dosa or pizza from nearby restaurant delivered at any station where your train halts. Here are the unique features that are making this marketplace popular:

  • Better food quality
  • Systematized Booking
  • Easy cancellation
  • Reasonable cost

India’s railways catering sector is worth Rs 4,000 crore and has been a topic of debate for poor quality food since years. The online marketplace of railway catering has so gained quick attention although it is in nascent stage and is picking up fast to cover all stations across India.

Here are the top four online platforms that can make your train journey pleasurable by delivering fresh, favorite and delicious foods at your seats.

TravelKhana.com

travelkhana

TravelKhana is a food ordering site that connects train travelers with eateries that can provide food. You can order your meal online through website as well as using mobile app or via SMS/phone-call. All you need to get your favorite food on the go is to make a search on Travelkhana using your PNR number or source/destination details and get information of restaurants. It covers 130 stations and is reported to add 200 more soon. As of now this startup is delivering 2000 orders in a day & targets to reach 5000 by 2015.

Pushpinder Singh, CEO & Co-founder of Travelkhana.com started this venture with initial investment of Rs 22 Lakhs and further funding of Rs 3.5 million from an investor. Having suffered from the bad food while traveling in train, he looked at this trouble as an opportunity and turned into a money-making reality.

Mera Food Choice

Mera Food Choice

Mera Food Choice comes among top two online food catering systems for train passengers in India (other being TravelKhana.com). This food portal has been treating the taste buds of train passengers with choicest food since November 2012. The website lists various restaurants falling in the vicinity of railway stations and allows passengers to choose their food provider from them. All bookings are done online or via call and accepted with PNR & train number. Train travelers can go online or call to order a meal by just entering travel dates and route. My Food Choice offers impressive selection of restaurants providing all kind of food including North Indian, Chinese, Mughalai, South Indian, Hyderabadi etc.

The idea of initiating as train food delivery portal came to Piyush Suresh Kasliwal after struggling himself to get his favorite snack in the train. He has started MFC with first Rs 20 Lakhs and moving it ahead with a vision to connect train travelers with local food specialties.

YatraChef

YatraChef

YatraChef is another meal booking platform for rail passengers in India. This online delivery portal is quite young as compared to TravelKhana & Mera Food Choice but has already covered 120 stations across Indian Railways. Started by a trio, this startup is expected to turn up as the biggest food-in-train booking portal in coming years. YatraChef is making train journeys special and pleasant by offering best food to travelers. The company has reached this far without spending anything on marketing as told by the co-founder & CEO Arun Rajan.  With its revenue sharing model, it earns 18-20 percent of what restaurateurs earn.

Although this online marketplace for food has various constraints yet YatraChef is receiving enough acclaim from train travelers for meeting their food preferences on the go. The platform created with an initial investment of just 15 Lakhs has the growth rate of 97% and gets most of its revenue from repeat customers.

Shopinrail.com

Shopinrail

Shopinrail is a step ahead of its co-startups as it not only delivers food but also offers medicines, electronic accessories, taxi booking service, hotel packages etc. In short, you do not have to worry about your mobile charger, camera battery, medicines, taxi, hotel packages etc.

Shopinrail.com is like one big kit that can rescue train passengers anytime they discover themselves stuck in a situation. You can choose from a list of products including food to make your journey satisfying and comfortable. The platform acts as a link between vendor and train traveler and accepts orders via website, mobile app and phone. This Hyderabad based portal is an old player in the realm of orders delivery in train & has distinct place in our list of new startups due to its unique business model.

All of these new startups are making the drive successful by delivering quality food & services to train passengers, yet we can see that there’s lot to come in this new marketplace. Knowing that Indian railways serve to 6 billion passengers annually, we can assume a better future of this new breed of startups. But, to make it happen, these websites will have to work more on improving their UX. Enhanced user experience is important for acquiring customer satisfaction and making them feel that they are in the right place. We analyzed these portals and discovered few usability issues like:

1) Poor Information Architecture – The arrangement of information is not up to user requirements as it seems unclear to a visitor what the sites can do for him.

2) Clumsy Top folds – Above-the-fold areas of few websites look quite unplanned as they do not define what’s in there for the user.

3) Weak Search Functionality – Food search and booking process can be made more user-friendly. Giving the veg/non-veg & lunch/dinner options right in the beginning will cut down unnecessary steps.

4) Incomplete details – All the Taxes and discounts are not defined clearly. Also, there is no certain information on the home page regarding benefits of ordering food online.

5)  Food ordering & tracking Errors– Menu selection is confusing in few cases. A user may have to struggle for finding options as they are not easily traceable. Also, making changes to orders is a bit difficult & confusing. Food order tracking is not highlighted on the home page of every website.

6) Lack of Visual Appeal – Inadequate color scheme is making the pages look clumsy and unappealing. The quality of graphics is below par, so does not make the right impression.

7) Not optimized well for mobile users– It is one of the most important features that no online marketplace can afford to miss. But, few of the food ordering platforms still lack in this area.

Viewing the uniqueness of this business model, it is certain to predict the growth and success of these food delivery portals provided these UX issues are fixed. As of now, we see this nation-wide food delivery chain for train passengers as a new business opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs and startups. You can step in this new business zone with the help of professional designers and UX experts.

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You can share with us in comments – How do you find these online food ordering platforms & what else you look forward to in this new clan of startup?

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Comments (2)
Amit Roy

Their are a wider possibilities when it comes to coverage and supply of food in trains. The state of the art services being currently offered needs a lot of improvement. The base kitchens options and other major food aggregator will help in meeting this demand of better food in trains.

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