Readymade online food services are becoming profitable ventures for investors in the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) business, Jane Chijioke reports.
To reduce the pressure of cooking in homes, she established an online food retailing service.
Mrs Helen Onyeka Obasi founded Next Alternative Foods to make available homemade foods to customers who barely have time to prepare good meals.
She ventured into the business in March, last year, providing various African dishes. Using the internet as a medium to reach her audience, her outdoor services have recorded huge profit.
Within one year, she has been able to secure 85 percent customer bases within and outside her environ – Surulere. She has also established a logistics firm which she leases to other food outlets.
She said: “Online marketing has helped me in this business. I have been doing my business with ease. I have become the next alternative for my clients who do not have time to prepare food at home or not having gas available when they want to eat, put them as ease from the stress of going to the market to get food stuffs and also providing quality homemade foods for worker at workplaces.’’
Online already made foods services have become emerging markets for investors in the fast food business also know as Quick Service Restaurant (QSR). Hardly do they go unnoticed within the Lagos metropolis as dispatchers of these various online food retailing outlets are seen on high ways maneuvering traffic to deliver ordered foods.
With the proliferation of online foods services, such as Foodstantly, Gofood, Angelous Kitchen, Sallyopy Fruit Delivery, Citychops,The Kitchen, among others, and also the already existed fast foods who are taking advantage of the digital space, emphasis is placed on quality, packaging, taste, and timely delivery to build a sustained relationship with consumers.
They argued that the advancement in technology and the accessibility of the internet has made it possible for already made foods to strive on such platform. Also, the perception of Nigerians towards having made foods delivered to them is fast becoming the trend.
Owners of many outlets visited said Nigerians were adapting to the culture of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner through online services.
They affirmed that e-marketing has attracted more patronage to their brands using a low-cost outreach, noting that the food business is profitable.
In 2014, the Association of Fast Food and Confectioneries of Nigeria (AFFCON) recorded over 800 QSR, generating about N200 billion yearly, with a workforce base of over 500,000.
Also, in 2016, it noted that the food industry was worth over N1 trillion.
Since its penetration into the market in the 1970s with Mr Biggs, owned by United Africa Company (UAC), QSR has grown providing ready meals of local and intercontinental taste to the wealthy and middle-income earners. The increasing population provides a long-term potential to the business, hence, the quick turnaround for profit for investors.
For Mrs Obasi, food business is profitable. “Lagos alone is a very big market. It is so populated and everybody needs to eat. The number of fast foods and restaurants in the country is still not enough to feed the population. With food you cannot go wrong,” she noted.
Ms Chika whose outlet – Delightables – is barely four months old is planning to subscribe to online retailing. She was optimistic of increased sales with online marketing.
“It is the trend of marketing and already made foods cannot be excluded. It’s all about making life easy for everyone. We need to reach out to every segment of the population. At present, if you are not marketing your products online, you are obviously at a loss.”
Most of the online food outlets are faced with logistic issues. Having their own logistics firm would invite more cost on the business. To solve this problem, many subscribe to various channels to dispatch their foods. For instance, Jumia Foods with its wide logistics availability has become a one-stop shop for various food outlets to subscribe to.
However, some of the business men complained that the Lagos traffic has negatively affected the business as sometimes customers reject food delivered due to the accumulated time consumed.
Mrs Obasi explained that it takes more than two hours to make a delivery. For her to make a quick delivery, she ensures her customers place orders ahead of time.
A worker at The Kitchen, Lekki, Lagos, said for timely delivery of ordered foods, the company uses various means, including Gokada. He was worried that free delivery,which the company does for its customers within Lekki, most times, has become a loss to the business.
“At times it is cheaper to order online than the traditional way of getting the item yourself from the restaurant. When you calculate the product and the delivery, it is quite a loss. At times, customers will make an order of N1, 000, by the time you calculate the fare to deliver the food, it is twice the amount ordered. So, that is part of the problem.”
The price of the food is dependent on the item bought. While some have food whose prices are as low as N500, others place a fixed amount for a delivery to be made.
Similarly, a minimum order worth N9, 000 is required to have free delivery from Mrs Obasi’s Next Alternative Food.