The gig economy has been around for a lot longer than most people realise. There are even references in the Bible about landowners hiring daily labourers to help harvest the crop. Yes, that is the crux of the gig economy – to provide a service as and when the demand arises. If gigging has been around for millennia, then why has it only gained popularity so recently?
Two words – mobile apps. Like everything else that has caused a disruption in recent times, technology had a big role to play. The increase in convenience was directly proportional to the popularity of the services. But it was not just the convenience of apps that had made gigging so successful. It was also a strong focus on customer-experience that propelled the gig economy to a trillion-dollar industry globally.
The emergence of the food delivery gig
One of the most used gig services is food delivery. India has always been known as a culture that revolves around food… and cricket, but we’ll focus on food here. Indians love big flavours and are blessed with a variety of cuisines from within the country itself. Every festival has its own set of traditional dishes, and every family has a special recipe passed down from generations. It has been a long-standing tradition that the matriarchs cook the meals and serve them hot to the rest of the family.
But times have changed. With people busy working full-time jobs, and living away from their families, home-cooked meals have become a luxury for many. At the end of a long day or week, you just want to relax and not worry about having to cook and do other housework. This is where ordering in becomes the ideal choice. Home delivery, of course, is not a new concept in India. Several restaurants provide the service and have been doing so for decades.
How then did food delivery emerge as the hottest new trend for giggers? It happened because the pioneers of the industry saw a gap in the market that arose from an increase in demand. As more people started ordering in, restaurants had a hard time keeping up with their minimally staffed delivery teams. Several smaller restaurants simply didn’t have the resources to have their own delivery persons. And restaurants could not ignore the reality; if you were not catering to the home delivery market, you were losing out.
Gig culture bridges the gap
Food delivery apps appeared on the scene like knights in shining armour. They provided their services to both the restaurants and the customers and closed the gap. Some evolved from sites where you could reserve tables and review restaurants, while others jumped straight into food delivery. But as mentioned earlier, what proved to be the defining line for who succeeded and who didn’t, was the customer service. Swiggy, currently the leading food delivery service in India, is not just customer-centric, they are customer-obsessed. Their instant response to customer concerns and quick action have fast-tracked them to the first position.
Of course, a lot of the success of the food delivery gig can be attributed to the fact that it provides a near-24-hour service. If you’re working late at the office to meet a deadline, using an app to order dinner makes life easier. If you get home after a night out with friends, you still have a good chance of getting a pizza. Round-the-clock service was a valuable ingredient in the winning formula.
There are other features too that increase the demand for food delivery gigs. Multiple payment options mean that you don’t have to have cash on hand to order in. The apps also let you make requests for special dietary needs – if you’re lactose-intolerant, you can request a cheese-less pizza and so on. They also offer you replacements if your order is not up to the mark or has some other issue.
And that’s how they did it. The food delivery gig economy saw a need that could be fulfilled, it also saw a gap in the market, stepped in and solved both problems. The lesson that we can walk away with from the industry now, is that convenience sells, and may well continue to do so in the future. The gig economy combined with app technology has forever changed the way we live and eat, and can only evolve from here.