Just Eat focuses on tech and social good to stay ahead of disruptors

Just Eat wants to remove any friction around online food ordering and ensure it is ahead of competitors so that it is ready should Amazon or Microsoft come calling.

Just Eat is placing a bigger focus on new technology such as virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to ensure it stays ahead of the curve, as new players enter the increasingly competitive takeaway sector.

The online food delivery brand hosted an event today (22 November) to showcase some of the technology it is developing. This includes:

●    Virtual reality: Using VR, it offers restaurant partners a bird’s eye view of its orders that can highlight patterns, hot spots and opportunities for growth.
●    HoloLens: Using augmented reality, the experience enables customers to see a restaurant menu as a buffet for them to pick and choose from.
●    Customer care chat bot: Built using the Microsoft Bot Framework, this development sees AI integrated into the ordering experience to ensure that customers receive round the clock support and service.
●    Delivery robots: In September, Just Eat began testing self-driving delivery robots on the streets of London, designed to increase delivery capacity for restaurant partners. Pilots are taking place in Greenwich, London.

Just Eat, which recently overhauled its advertising, and the look and feel of the brand, is one of a number of brands operating in the rapidly growing takeaway sector. According to Euromonitor, the sector was worth around £5.3bn in the UK last year, but that is expected to rise to £8bn by the end of the decade. That growth has attracted a number of new players, such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, which are looking to disrupt the sector once again.

Just Eat is all too aware of the competition. And so it is on a mission to “remove friction that is preventing adoption” among restaurant partners and consumers, said chief product and technology officer Fernando Fanton.

“We want to leverage data and put it at our restaurant partners’ finger tips, so it’s super easy for them to understand what small actions they can take to grow the business,” he said during the event.

“It’s not crazy to think that in the near future we can [develop] an extension of our chat bot where consumers can speak to a virtual waiter. Not only does he know everything about Indian food, but he also knows everything about you. Everything we have on show today is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Just Eat delivery robot
Just Eat’s delivery robot is expected to start roaming the streets of London very soon.

Helping others grow while doing good

Besides trialling new tech itself, Just Eat also launched a food tech accelerator programme earlier this year to help the next generation of food technology startups. It has invested £20,000 in five companies in return for a 5% stake in each as it looks to “help pioneering young companies”, according to CEO David Buttress.

Just Eat’s global CMO Barnaby Dawe told Marketing Week the programme enables the company to “constantly disrupt itself” to ensure it is always at the forefront of the sector.

He said: We want to see where we can go with it so we remain ahead of the curve. We want to be at the top table of those conversations with the likes of Amazon and Microsoft, so when they’re developing tech they come to us.

Just Eat is also looking for new investment opportunities, with a particular focus on social food tech ventures in the not-for-profit sector.

Dawe concluded: “There are lots of really interesting not-for-profit organisations that are working in the food tech space, including those that look at food waste management for example. We are interested in that space and have amazing data around customer behaviour and food, so we can do some good with that.”

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