After launching a 10-minute food delivery pilot in Gurugram, food tech platform Zomato has come up with a long-distance or inter-city food delivery service called – 'Intercity Legends'. The new service will allow Zomato customers to order "legendary dishes" from famous cities and those food items will be delivered to customers via flight and reach their doorstep by the "very next day".

Zomato founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal, in a blog post, says Zomato customers can now experience the “charm of any city” sitting at home. To begin with, the company is launching this service for "select customers" in Gurgaon and South Delhi on pilot bases. Zomato is eying to rapidly scale the service to other cities in the next few weeks.

The Zomato users in South Delhi and Gurugram will be able to order iconic dishes like baked rosogollas from Kolkata, biryani from Hyderabad, mysore pak from Bengaluru, kebabs from Lucknow, butter chicken from Old Delhi, or pyaaz kachori from Jaipur.

The Zomato 'Legends' tab will appear as a banner on the mobile app in these cities. For now, the company is allowing intercity orders of only legendary dishes from some of the iconic restaurants in cities like Agra, Lucknow, Jaipur, Mathura, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar and Chennai. The minimum amount of food that must be ordered is also mentioned alongside each dish.

"When you think of Kolkata, you crave sandesh and rosogollas; when you think of Hyderabad, your mouth waters for the fabled biryani; and when you think of Delhi, you dial back time to visit the lanes of Chandni Chowk to relish the chole bhature. What if we told you that you can now experience the charm of any city sitting at home?" says Goyal.

In terms of price, the company seems to be charging around the same for handling and packing as the order price, though it may vary depending upon the order and the place. For example, we placed an order for Zafrani Chicken biryani from Pista House, Hyderabad, for which the price, including handling and packaging charges, was about ₹513 -- ₹253 for food price and ₹260 for handling and packaging.

How will these legendary dishes reach you?

Customers will be able to order these iconic dishes through Intercity Legends on the Zomato app. Goyal says the company will leverage its vast network of restaurant and delivery partners, food technology, and customer data to deliver these legendary dishes to the customers in just one-day time.

He says the company's "mission statement" binds it to ensure that health and safety are uncompromised at any point. "All types of dishes have undergone lab testing to ensure that the aroma, texture, and taste remain of high quality."

Food will be freshly prepared by the restaurant and packed in reusable and tamper-proof containers to keep it safe during air transit. State-of-the-art mobile refrigeration technology will preserve the food without the need to freeze it or add any kind of preservatives.

"Once you receive your order, you can microwave, air-fry, or pan-fry the food, just like any other dish out of the refrigerator," says Goyal.

Before this, Zomato had entered the 10-minute delivery space in March 2022 by launching a pilot in Gurugram. Its grocery delivery platform Blinkit, which was earlier named Grofers, also promises to deliver groceries in 10 minutes.

Will it help Zomato gain more revenue?

Industry watchers seem a bit sceptical about the latest concept. They say the company has not shared too many details on technical aspects of the 'intercity' service. Also, they link the latest announcement to Zomato being under constant pressure to turn profitable. However, whether the new initiative will help Zomato in gaining more revenue can only be seen once the service is launched in multiple cities.

"Zomato is under pressure to make more disclosures. Ever since they have become a public company, scrutiny has increased and that's a good sign. Though they are the leader in the domain, they are certainly facing challenges as they are not making any money," says Ankur Bisen, senior partner and head of consumer & retail, Technopak, a management consulting services company.

He says since their listing on the bourses, retail investors have lost huge money as the stock continues to plunge. On the latest service, Bisen says Zomato will continue to face pressure in terms of cost per order as demand is dispersed and they'll have to come to work around the economics of scale.

The Zomato stock made its debut on July 23, 2021, by listing at a 51% premium over the issue price of ₹76 per share on the BSE. However, the food-tech stock has been consistently under stress since listing amid concerns about valuations and future growth prospects. It hit an all-time low of ₹40.55 on July 27, 2022, a huge fall from its lifetime high of ₹169.10 on November 16, 2021. The company posted a consolidated net loss of ₹185.7 crore in the June quarter of 2022 (Q1 FY23), compared to a loss of ₹356.2 crore a year ago.

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