Cloud Kitchens and liability of Zomato, Swiggy, Uber eats.

With rising competition and ever-growing technology, the food space has become volatile for quite some time now. Newer innovations are coming every day and creating an identity or a cult for themselves. The latest on the scene of food space are the cloud kitchens. There have been many restaurateurs who are raving over this concept and are trying to figure out the intricacies of it. So much so, that cloud kitchens are being considered as the smart way of running a restaurant business. To understand how a cloud kitchen works, its model, operations & other factors have to be taken into consideration.

What is Cloud Kitchen?

A cloud kitchen is a restaurant that has neither a physical space nor a dine-in or takeaway facility as it does not exist physically as like a restaurant. It relies entirely on third-party integrations or home delivery orders placed on call or through a website. In a cloud kitchen format, the restaurant gets the flexibility to more than one brand by using the same kitchen infrastructure. For example, if a restaurateur who is owning a delivery kitchen and is delivering South Indian food can also start delivering Mexican food and can add Mexican food to his current menu.  He can start operating a different brand that sells Mexican from the same delivery kitchen. Customers are most likely to order pasta from a restaurant named La Italiana instead of Punjabi Delight even if the same chef is preparing the pasta. But the customers don’t need to know that.

How To Run A Cloud Kitchen Restaurant?

The primary source of order-taking in a Cloud kitchen is online through a cloud kitchen POS. A point of sale is a must for Cloud Kitchens. This is so because there are multiple restaurants and multiple channels being dealt with when it comes to collecting orders in a cloud kitchen and it is virtually impossible to keep up with so many types of different orders pouring in from different locations. Without a POS it will be impossible to handle these tasks and also give you an analytic report regarding it.

Another means of taking orders in the cloud kitchen is through telephonic calls. For this, you need a Call-Center Panel that will route the orders to the right brand and outlet. When you have multiple brands operating at the same outlet, you need a robust POS system that can give you detailed insights about the number of orders received for each brand.

Since all of the brands are integrated with online ordering platforms such as Zomato and Swiggy who have their own websites and calling numbers it will become impossible to keep a large volume of orders. Not only do you need to do the billing but also ensure proper delivery.  Having an end to end POS is virtually the only way to keep up a large number of orders.

How is Order Processed in Cloud Kitchen?

Cloud kitchen orders are processed like normal orders. The only difference lies in the fact that each order can belong to a different brand and so the unique taste of each one needs to be maintained. To solve this, you can have different chefs catering to different brands or different kitchen areas designated to the team of different brands under the same chef. Investing in a POS with a Kitchen Display System will be helpful as it will display orders directly in the kitchen on a screen and enable your staff to keep track of all the orders that have been prepared and needs to be prepared.

Benefits and drawbacks of Cloud Kitchen:

Advantages of Cloud Kitchen are the ordering process is streamlined. It has a low operational cost and it can be easily expanded. The disadvantages of Cloud Kitchen are there is no personal touch to build a customer relation. Then there are limited customers since only tech-savvy customers can be reached out. Then there is also a limited brand presence as compared to traditional outlets. Cloud Kitchens like Swiggy, Zomato, and Uber Eat follow guidelines as given by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) which directly impacts online food operators such as Grofers and BigBasket and also food delivery platforms such as Swiggy and Zomato.

Since there can be no compromise on last-mile delivery and safety of food products the national food regulator is stepping up their scrutiny on e-commerce food companies because Food products that are for sale are liable to sampling at any point in the supply chain. Companies will also need to provide an indicative image of the food on their platforms so that consumers can recognize the product. As per the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, all mandatory information mentioned in the will have to be provided to consumers before purchase and only fresh food has to be delivered to consumers.

“With increased use of eCommerce platforms by consumers, the guidelines are aimed at stepping up vigilance on food safety provided to consumers,” FSSAI chief executive Agarwal said. “These guidelines will build confidence in the eCommerce food business sector and increase their credibility.”

While cloud kitchens comply with all the regulatory guidelines such as last-mile delivery and shelf life, we also need to ensure that our merchant partners follow the same. For example, Grofers’ online grocery startup chief executive said that “their company does not work with merchants who don’t have the necessary compliance. This is the challenge that the regulator has to enforce.”

Whom to blame when Zomato, Swiggy Deliveries go wrong?

When there is a rise in the number of complaints against delivery personnel of food aggregators like Swiggy and Zomato it raises safety questions? Who should be held accountable or responsible for the negligence of the delivery agent’s lie? How do cloud kitchen companies try to end the gap between the use of technology and the human element? The estimated delivery time for Zomato and Swiggy food pops up every time when the customer places an order and is being delivered to the customers.

Several media reports have popped up in recent times to highlight how customers get violent with delivery agents for delays in delivery, while other incidents of adulteration, theft of food, and other crimes such as assaulting customers to being involved in the theft. This raises the question of who is actually responsible for such incidents. Is it Zomato or Swiggy who would be held liable, or will their delivery agents be in the docks?

Swiggy spokesperson said that every delivery partner undergoes a mandatory background check through reputed third-party agencies in which his details such as identity, address, and criminal background are verified.”  For any unforeseen issues, both the customers and delivery partners can place their complaints via the app and speak to a dedicated team 24/7.”

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Advocate Aditya Pratap
About Advocate Aditya Pratap 60 Articles
Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practising in Mumbai. He argues cases in the Bombay High Court, Sessions and Magistrate Courts, along with appearances before RERA, NCLT and the Family Court. For further information one may visit his website adityapratap.in or view his YouTube Channel to see his interviews. Questions can be emailed to him at aditya@adityapratap.com.