UX Takeaways From An Indian Food Delivery App That Serves 1.4 Million Orders Everyday

March 19th 2020
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@kunal_aKunal Agrawal

Product@Amazon | Ex-BCG Consultant | Loves talking and reading about Tech, Product & Strategy

“Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible,” ― Don Norman 

This quote captures my adoration for Swiggy. No fuzz, no unnecessary friction, just sail through the order-flow in seconds. It just works, always. Even as a foodie, I am in love with Swiggy. To talk numbers, 1.4 million orders are clocked by Swiggy every single day! So there is a good chance that you too have a minor crush on Swiggy.
Given its million+ daily orders, it is fast becoming a verb so much so that “Let’s just Swiggy” is now an acceptable statement construct. It might not be there yet, but Swiggy would hope to emulate the success of tech giants who have become colloquial verbs (read Google, Insta, Uber, et al).
This post talks about what makes the Swiggy app so amazing and loved by its users. If you are already convinced about why you like this app, jump to the second half where I propose what else Swiggy can do to retain its pole position.

How So Awesome

A great product, at a high level, needs to get two things right — a) Identify the target customer and the problem it is solving b) Articulate its value proposition, then deliver it through implementation of superior features and User Experience (UX).
If you can’t get the value proposition right, nothing else will matter. No amount of fancy features and intuitive UX can make up for a broken value proposition, especially in the long run. Food is a need as basic and repetitive as it gets, which takes care of the existence of a real problem to solve in a mass market.
The interesting bit is Swiggy’s brilliant execution of the simple but effective value proposition — fast, economical and reliable delivery of food for convenience and indulgence use-cases alike. A disproportionate share of this success is due to Swiggy acing its logistics, partnerships, business model and a whole lot of behind-the-scenes chops. But this post isn’t about that. Here, I focus on the Swiggy app as a product, its features and UX.

The High-Five

Here are my top 5 UX callouts. Your list can differ from mine :)
1. Clean and intuitive design: Swiggy’s User Interface (UI) is far superior by actually being simple. The clutter is minimum, features are discoverable, Copy (words used on the app) is precise, controls are understandable — all these help a user not feel “lost” while using the app. Use of white spaces, right typography, contrast differences, size of touch targets (clickable areas), the way information architecture is structured — are a few from the long list of design elements that Swiggy has gotten right. The impact of good design on business success is often underestimated, and hence I start my list with this overall point.
2. Customer Segmentation: Any app worth its salt does some level of customer segmentation to better target various customer cohorts who have differing needs and expectations from the app. Swiggy took the customer segments and made pre-selected filters out of it. “Express Delivery” for customers in rush, “Veg Only” for well — vegetarians, “Pocket Friendly” for customers seeking economical options and so on. What this does, is gives one-click access to relevant restaurant options to its most important customer cohorts without having to navigate the complexity and failures of drop-down menus and nested filters. The A/B testing for this feature would have surely been revenue increasing!
3. Live Tracking: Speaking from both professional and personal experience — customer anxiety for a pending order is a really big problem. Swiggy solved for this by frequent and delivery stage-based notifications and most importantly through the live tracking feature. The endearing graphic of the orange scooter moving towards the delivery destination solves for increased transparency and reduces anxiety. The Picture in Picture (PIP) mode for live tracking also ensures that users can track their orders even while navigating to other apps. Small changes can make for great experiences!
For points 2 and 3 above, the delight element has waned as other players have now built similar experiences. But that tends to happen for most product experiences which actually work. They will be replicated, modified and will ultimately become par for the course.
4. Subscription: In my first draft this point was in the “Improvements” section below. It was about how Swiggy should come up with a subscription plan where you can opt for a certain kind of meal which will be delivered daily to you without having to go through the ordering hassle each time. Subscriptions are the Holy Grail for most tech companies today. As it happens, “Swiggy Daily” has been launched as a separate app for a pilot in Gurugram and selected parts of Bengaluru. (A little self-high-five moment). In the long run, subscriptions can be one of the important levers of growth for Swiggy.
5. Personalization: The personalized email campaigns, namely Appraisal Report and Happy New Resolutions, were particularly catchy. Swiggy generated a lot of positive buzz on social media platforms for these. It was a perfect example of using data insights on ordering patterns to create customer delight. The marketing team at Swiggy has been able to create a very positive, fun and engaging vibe around the product. Products that can constantly create customer delight and engagement are the ones that win in the long run.

Improvement begins with "I"

No product is ever perfect. There is always a long list of backlog items that the product team keeps chasing to improve the product further. Here are my recommendations, some long term and others incremental, in descending order of likely effort for implementation.
1. Voice integration: Voice search is witnessing much higher adoption in India, compared to other countries. It is a lot more intuitive way of interacting with the world of tech and internet, especially for low digital-maturity customer cohorts. So my wish list starts with a feature to enable ordering using a simple voice command. This will go a long way in reducing friction in ordering. Given the instantaneous craving associated with food, reducing the barriers to ordering should help the customers and the company alike. Leveraging default digital wallets, default saved addresses, “favorite” marked items or previously ordered items would smoothen the voice order experience. It would be pretty cool if all you had to do was ask, “Swiggy, please re-order a tall Java Chip Frappuccino for me”.
2. Visual Cues: Research around “visual hunger” indicates that bold and artistic representation of food helps trigger the urge to eat and elevates the sensory experiences. Forget research, I am sure you can recall instances of salivating by just looking at images of delectable food in your Instagram feed. Same with artfully written culinary description of food. Now “Smashed coriander falafel with pumpkin hummus, pickled carrot and tahini sauce on a sourdough flatbread“ sounds a lot more appetizing than just plain “Falafel Flatbread“. This is where Swiggy needs to up its game. It can partner with restaurants to move towards creatively written salivation-inducing food descriptions and more importantly — the addition of high definition images, GIFs, 3D images, or other ways of visually enhancing the appeal of the menu items.
(EDIT: While conducting last-minute checks, I found an article on the Swiggy blog which talks about initiatives to revamp the menus. You can read it here)
3. Personalized recommendations: Food is a category where ordering patterns are relatively more discoverable unlike say electronics or apparels. For example, I never order during breakfast or lunch hours on a weekday. But I order-in my dinner on most weekends. Or an occasional breakfast on Sunday. I could also have a pattern in terms of cuisines or items I order, depending upon the time of the day and the day itself. It would be great to receive a push notification on a lazy Sunday morning with an ingress of directly ordering Masala Dosa and Filter Coffee from my favorite restaurant rather than seeing a generic marketing notification pushing me to order food just because it’s Republic day. So there is a big opportunity in terms of personalizing the recommendation on the app or push notifications leveraging the ordering data of millions of orders. Again, this helps build a better UX for the customers and increase the conversion rate for Swiggy. There must be some algo that Swiggy is using to send recommendations to its customers, just that it doesn’t seem to be working for me.
4. Reviews: While Swiggy has a numerical rating assigned to each restaurant basis customer inputs, what it lacks is descriptive textual feedback for them, a la Amazon, Flipkart or closer home Zomato. Without descriptive reviews, it is hard to figure out what exactly is good or bad about a restaurant. Are the customers docking points for leaky containers or is it just their tasteless chewy paneer? Should I just order starters from this restaurant and my desserts from that other one? Well written reviews go a long way in helping customers place a more informed order which in turn reduces post-purchase dissonance. Helping your customers is helping yourself.
5. Navigation: Swiggy does better than most on ease of navigation and understandability of controls, but there is a minor grouse that I have. With Swiggy trying to become a super-app of sorts by launching Swiggy Go and Swiggy Stores, it is facing a navigation issue on its home page. It wants to highlight the new programs but is also unwilling to take away too much real-estate and focus from the main restaurants business. So its home page and the restaurants page end up looking confusingly similar with ingresses for the new programs on both the pages. The similarity doesn’t end here. Scrolling down on the restaurants page gives you a list of restaurants interspersed with carousels of recommended dishes and restaurants, which is great. But scrolling down on the home page also takes you to various “collections” of restaurants. I understand that they are trying to aid the discovery of restaurants by surfacing these collections but this navigation scheme might leave the new users feeling a little lost. Swiggy needs to solve this bit of UX to avoid overwhelming its new users.
Recommendations aside, Swiggy is a great app to use which will probably get even better with time. As a closing note, I truly believe that Swiggy, Zomato and even the early food delivery players like Food Panda and Tiny Owl have developed this space from scratch and have made such tremendous progress across tech and operations that convenience of food delivery is an indispensable part of today’s urban living. I for one, can’t imagine my life without these players. So cheers to all the convenience, delights and indulgence in our lives!
Views and opinions expressed in the post are solely personal and do not represent those of my current or past organizations.
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@kunal_aKunal Agrawal

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Product@Amazon | Ex-BCG Consultant | Loves talking and reading about Tech, Product & Strategy

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