Dining with Zomato

2013-11-07 00:00

POPULAR international restaurant search service Zomato announced yesterday it had expanded into Durban.

Zomato first entered South Africa with the launch of its operations in Johannesburg in April, followed by Cape Town in July and Pretoria in September. It now covers over 5 000 restaurants in South Africa.

In Durban, it will cover over 500 restaurants.

“Our Durban section is now listed. We sent our team street-on-street through Durban to make sure we collected data of all the restaurants listed,” chief executive officer of Zomato South Africa Pooja Khanna said in an interview.

Khanna said South Africa was proving to be one of the more successful of the 11 countries that Zomato trades in, with over 200 000 unique visits per month since April.

Zomato opened offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and would open one in Durban in a few months.

Khanna said that while there were competitors in the online space, no company provided as much information, and actually also visited each restaurant at least within 90 days.

Zomato provides information such as menus, photographs, contact details, geo-coded maps, and user ratings and reviews, making it arguably the most exhaustive restaurant discovery platform in the country.

With its headquarters in New Delhi, it started five years ago. Zomato employs over 600 people across 35 cities in 11 countries.

Zomato has a dominant online traffic share in India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with an estimated 70% traffic share in its space; it is also the largest player in most of its other markets.

Zomato believes that menus, pictures, and maps are as important as reviews when it comes down to a customer deciding where to eat. It follows a rich-content approach to restaurant search, and has a team that collects menu cards, takes pictures and gets mapping information.

Reviews and ratings on more than 180 000 restaurants on Zomato are provided by users.

Zomato gets over 15 million visits across its web and mobile platforms per month. Traffic is claimed to have grown by over 300% in the past year. More than half the traffic is on its mobile apps — testimony to the fact that local search is moving to mobile very fast.

The India and UAE operations had broken even at the earnings before interest, tax and depreciation allowances level, a statement said.

Over the next two years, Zomato plans to expand to 22 more countries across Europe, South-East Asia, Australia and the Americas.

“South Africa … has great potential with lots of restaurants and a growing Internet and smartphone penetration,” added Khanna.

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