As a pioneer in q-commerce or quick-commerce, foodpanda is winning across 11 markets with a business model that makes convenience a strategic priority. WARC speaks to foodpanda’s Director of Marketplace, Chris Urban, in an eTail exclusive interview about how the platform is doing this.

Chris Urban, what’s your background?

I’m a marketer and business leader with more than 20 years of experience across various industries.

For the past 13 years, I’ve been based in Asia, working through several businesses in FMCGs and digital industries. I have a particular interest and focus on cracking the code for organisations around CX, e-commerce, on-demand services and digital transformation.

What will you be sharing at eTail Asia? What are the key topics you are keen to listen to and why is eTail a must-not-miss event?

On a more macro view, I’ll be covering what is driving the q-commerce or quick-commerce growth over the past few years, driven by consumer demand of getting goods delivered immediately. This was, of course, amplified by COVID when most consumers stayed home.

We do see slight changes to consumer demand with markets opening up, but all in all we see that satisfying immediate consumer demands are still on the rise. After the COVID-era amplification, the benchmarks for on-demand deliveries are higher than ever before.

I am excited to be part of a fireside chat at eTail Asia on q-commerce where I will be sharing more about how foodpanda has built our success across Asia by doubling down efforts on our smart logistics ecosystem.

I’ll also speak on learnings from the last decade as leaders in this space and where there are opportunities for companies to enhance last-mile delivery to win in the marketplace.

Having been at the forefront of food and grocery delivery over the last 10 years, foodpanda has been winning across 11 markets with our q-commerce business model that is anchored on making convenience a strategic priority. The landscape is rapidly evolving and there is a constant need for us to always look ahead to what’s next and how we can do better in delivering value to our customers and partners alike.

I am looking forward to hearing from and having insightful conversations with industry veterans, sharing their perspectives on how we can continue to push boundaries for the future of retail.

How would you describe the q-commerce trend in Asia? What opportunities and challenges does it provide for marketers in Asia’s retail landscape compared to Western markets, and how can marketers take advantage of it?

foodpanda was the first platform to scale q-commerce across Asia with the launch of our own network of cloud grocery stores, pandamart and foodpanda shops, before the pandemic in 2019. Q-commerce is the next generation of e-commerce – providing ultra-fast delivery of anything our customers may need, in as fast as 30 minutes. The foodpanda shops platform presents tremendous opportunities for retailers, big and small, and it is the first time that a platform like ours has provided direct access to customers and enabled them to sell “on demand” within 30 minutes.

What are some key characteristics of in-home consumption that marketers need to take note of to drive sales? 

As we transition into the post-pandemic era, quick-commerce will continue shaping the future of retail in Asia. The main reason for this is that customers have already gotten used to the convenience of quick-commerce and are no longer willing to wait for a few hours, let alone an entire day, for their deliveries. Whether it’s buying groceries, everyday essentials, cosmetics, pet supplies, flowers or even electronics, they expect to receive it in the shortest possible time. Our job is to focus on delivering the goods in the best conditions and upholding a high service quality for deliveries.

Through our extensive network across the region, we are helping more than 45,000 retailers digitalise and to connect directly with our customers through foodpanda shops. This ranges from leading regional retail partners like Lotus’s, Carrefour, 7-Eleven, Family Mart, health and beauty store Watsons, and major local specialty stores like Miniso, Xiaomi, Sa Sa in Hong Kong, PX Mart in Taiwan and IKEA and Pet Lovers’ Centre in Singapore.

This is also especially beneficial for smaller merchants like vegetable sellers at wet markets, neighbourhood bakeries, and local mom and pop stores. By bringing them onboard, we help them to increase revenue opportunities, widen their customer pool and become a part of the digital ecosystem. An example is Ace Mart in Singapore, a home-grown local grocer that is among the top retailers on foodpanda shops.

For SMEs and local heroes, having a great assortment and at a great price, running ads and marketing, and driving awareness of their home delivery services help create a healthy growth trajectory for on-demand deliveries.

Building on a decade of on-demand delivery expertise in Asia, q-commerce was a synergistic expansion of our offerings to our customers. Beyond just food and groceries, we want foodpanda to be our customers’ go-to partner for their daily needs.

How crucial is improving supply chain efficiencies in helping build brand loyalty and to create a frictionless, flexible and personalised experience for customers?

Our aim has always been to double down on speed, accessibility and variety to better serve our customers and grow local communities. To scale our q-commerce faster than ever, we build on our strong tech infrastructure and learnings from our operations across 11 markets. This means optimising tech to create better user experience for our customers, merchant-partners and even riders for an efficient end-to-end journey.

We are always one step ahead of our customers’ needs and continuously innovating and improving our processes to serve them better. It is our customers who inspire and push us to keep raising the bar. Listening closely to what exactly customers want is especially important, which means feedback can be a true game changer for ever-changing and fast-moving industries like ours.

When it comes to customer expectations, I think it’s important to focus on two main things – customer experience, and assortment and inventory. Customers stay when they enjoy using the services – we see this at foodpanda with high customer NPS resulting in customers using the service more regularly.

It’s also important to ensure assortment and a healthy inventory. Our job is to ensure we have the right mix of partners on board who can offer customers choice and options for retail-to-home on-demand deliveries at a price point that is acceptable and accessible to most consumers.

In line with consumer trends and demand, we’ve also expanded our merchant mix on foodpanda shops beyond groceries and convenience items into more categories like electronics, health and beauty, and even pet supplies and travel essentials gifts – anything you may need delivered in 30 minutes.

How should brands approach strategic partnerships in order to better serve their end customer take the lead in helping Asia build its burgeoning digital commerce ecosystem, especially in the delivery space with many traditional brick-and-mortar stores?

Moving beyond traditional e-commerce, brands are starting to realise that quick-commerce is the next phase of growth. Partnering with foodpanda shops provides them with a new way to deliver their products to customers almost instantly, whenever they need it.

As mentioned earlier, we have provided more than 45,000 businesses direct access to their customers and enabled them to sell on demand within 30 minutes. Brands that heavily relied on physical stores and foot traffic are now able to enter the quick-commerce space by tapping on foodpanda. Physical stores tend to be limited to a specific radius of customers in that area. However, foodpanda opens their doors to a much wider pool by enabling the store to now reach much farther, locally and sometimes regionally.

In the case of Xiaomi, foodpanda was their first quick-commerce partner in Asia outside China, offering hundreds of items ranging from smart devices, audio and mobile accessories, to household appliances. We partnered with PX Mart, Taiwan’s largest supermarket chain, offering more than 2,500 products from over 350 stores. In Pakistan, we partnered with popular retail chains such as Chase Up, Naheed, CSD, Bin Hashim and Shaheen SC, allowing them to target shoppers who can’t or choose not to leave their homes.

Similarly, Sa Sa, a well-known beauty and healthcare chain in Hong Kong, tapped foodpanda to fulfil its objective of expanding its customer base and also targeting younger shoppers. Today, we carry around 700 Sa Sa products and deliver them in about 10 minutes!