When it comes to food and drink, today’s consumers can choose from a wide range of ingredients, restaurants and places to shop. In the takeout sector, the choice of dishes on offer has perhaps never been bigger.
Technology is playing a significant role in the sector, and it’s now possible to order food for delivery using smartphones, tablets, computers and virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa.
One company looking to be at the forefront of this technological shift is London-headquartered Just Eat. With 24 million customers across the globe and more than 3,300 employees, the business is a big player in the takeout sector.
It offers an online platform that allows restaurants to upload their menus. Consumers log on to the site, browse what’s on offer close to where they live, and then order and pay online or in cash. The food is delivered to their door, with the restaurant paying Just Eat a commission.
Unsurprisingly, digital innovation is key to Just Eat’s plans. “In the short-term, we’re looking at personalization and how we use machine learning,” Storm Fagan, head of product at Just Eat, told CNBC’s Juliet Mann.
Fagan added that personalization would increase over the next few years and move onto new platforms such as voice, as assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri become more popular.
Looking ahead, Fagan said that an ideal scenario would see ordering food from Just Eat becoming a seamless part of people’s lifestyle.
“It’s as simple as having a conversation with your partner and you’re talking about what takeaway to order of an evening and, as natural as that conversation is, a voice assistant like Amazon Alexa will join in with your conversation,” she said.
“It will know how many people are in your home and what sort of food you like, and they can start recommending food options to you,” she added. “Rather than us having to go to a website, it’s almost as if Just Eat will exist in your home with you.”
The way we order food is not the only aspect of takeout that is changing. Robots are set to play a key role in the years to come, too. “We’re already trialling robots for delivery at the moment, in a couple of cities in the U.K.,” Fagan said.
The self-driving robots, which move at walking pace, travel to a restaurant to pick up orders and then deliver to customers.
“We’re looking to scale that out over the next few years,” Fagan said. “And that means that restaurants can deliver more orders of an evening because the robots can take over the simple, close-by homes that need delivery and delivery drivers can then go further afield.”
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