India’s food tech space was thought to have settled as a duopoly, with Zomato and Swiggy remaining the only viable options after years of bruising battles between company. But it appears that they now have a serious new challenger, and it’s built by the Indian government.
India’s Twitter users are ordering the same food for cheaper on the Indian government’s ONDC platform compared to Swiggy and Zomato, and eagerly sharing screenshots of social media. ONDC stands for Open Network for Digital Commerce, and allows restaurants to directly sell food to users, thus eliminating Swiggy and Zomato as middlemen. Users in cities where ONDC is now live are discovering that this results in significantly cheaper prices for the same orders.
“Mindblown!! Ordered food from ONDC (via @Paytm)..same restaurant same dish bill is 25% cheaper than @zomato,” wrote Torus Oro CEO Nitin Agarwal. “The UPI moment in e-commerce is here,” he tweeted, sharing a screenshot showing a bill of Rs. 347 on ONDC, and a Rs. 471 bill on Zomato.
Another user showed that ONDC was significantly cheaper than Swiggy as well. “Now you know the ONDC impact! Same order, same place and same time. The difference are clearly visible,” he tweeted, showing a bill of Rs. 185 on ONDC versus Rs. 337 on Swiggy.
Another user found that the same pizza was 20% cheaper on ONDC compared to Zomato.
Yet another found that they could buy the same McDonald’s burger for Rs. 50 on ONDC as compared to Rs. 155 on Swiggy.
Now ONDC is running a promotion at the moment, where with the ONDC50 code users can get an instant Rs. 50 discount on their orders. But even without the discount, ONDC could end up being much cheaper than Zomato and Swiggy. Both these platforms charge a 25-30 percent commission from restaurants, while ONDC only charges between 2-4 percent. This cost saving can be eventually passed on to consumers, who’ll be able to order food for much cheaper.
And all this is possible because of the open nature of ONDC. ONDC is a platform for e-commerce, much like how UPI was a platform for payments. ONDC allows restaurants, apps and logistics providers to sign up on the platform, so an order can be placed on Paytm or MagicPin, prepared by a restaurant like McDondalds, and finally delivered by a third-party logistics provider like Dunzo. Amid all this, ONDC eliminates middlemen like Swiggy and Zomato, which were charging hefty commissions
ONDC now finally seems to have hit the mainstream. It had been soft-launched last year to test its features, but has finally gotten into its stride, and has grown 25x in the last two months. ONDC is already completing 6000 food orders per day, and going by the reactions of people on Twitter, is already making a dent in the space. It remains to be seen how ONDC fares in the coming months, and whether it can maintain service quality as it scales, but it looks poised to completely disrupt India’s food ordering space.