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Just Eat: the changing world of food delivery

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Just Eat figures out today show fast changes to the way shoppers order food – and takeaway companies deliver it. Both have implications for the wider retail sector. Here are the key themes we picked out from today’s full-year results.

Demand for online takeaway ordering is still growing

During the year it processed orders worth £2.5bn for the restaurant partners that sell via its online food delivery marketplace. Growth came in the UK and in international markets, and the average number of orders processed per restaurant grew by 19%.

Nonetheless, Just Eat says that more than 51% of takeaway food in the UK is ordered by telephone, with online ordering at a lower rate than across its international businesses, offering potential for growth.

It reported revenues of £375.7m, 52% up on the same time last year, with orders up by 42% at 136.4m. Pre-tax profits of £91.3m were 164% up on the same time last year.

Orders are most likely to be placed via mobile

Some 73% of orders were placed via mobile devices in the year, up from 66% a year earlier.

Mobile isn’t only used by the customer: more than 50% of orders were processed through Just Eat’s Orderpad tablet-based order management system. More than 10,000 restaurants around the world now have the system, which, among other things, enables restaurants to notify customers when their order is on the way.

Sector consolidation

Just Eat bought businesses in Italy, Spain and Mexico during the year, to which it added a Canadian business in December. It is now set to buy hungryhouse in a deal that’s awaiting approval from the Competition and Markets Authority.

Outgoing chief executive David Buttress said: “The acquisitions we made in Italy, Spain and Mexico have significantly enhanced our operations in those countries, and we are excited by the addition of SkipTheDishes to our Canadian business towards the end of the year.”

Customer-first innovation

Over the last year the company has introduced new ways for the consumer to order, integrating into digital media players and into the gaming experience. It has also used voice technology, chatbots and augmented reality.

Just Eat is clear that new technology is important for the way it underpins and improves the customer experience. Chairman Dr John Hughes said: “Our strategy is underpinned by the desire to anticipate and fulfil the needs of consumers and restaurants.

“As leaders in technology, we will continue to invest in innovation and seek partnerships with others where we can enhance the consumer experience or create additional value to our Restaurant Partners. We will continue to evolve our brand and make the right investments behind it, both to further grow the total market and to increase our share within it.”

But there was no mention of the delivery bots that were trialled in partnership with Starship Technologies last summer.

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