A single delivery guy in a dimly-lit street carefully opens the food packets he is (presumably) delivering and has a few bites from each before systematically sealing each and proceeding on his job. BW (Before WhatsApp), this would have been a small story. Today, there is a sharp debate ignited pitting those who blame corporate greed against those who blame human greed. But ignoring that juicy debate for a moment, how does this matter to the brand? And, should it matter to other eCommerce brands?

I believe that the brand cannot ignore this, and I think that goes back to what these eCommerce brands really stand for. The most important reason people are climbing onto the “eComm brandwagon” for the digital delivery of services (like food), is convenience. A key element they are giving away is control since the delivery is in the hands of neither the service provider (the restaurant) nor the customer. The entire model is intrinsically dependent on “Trust”. The customer trusts that the proper goods will be delivered, that the right amount of money will be collected, that their payment information on file will be safe, and that the person making the delivery will be “trustworthy” in all respects -since you will be letting him (it’s always him) into your home. The model will fall apart if they do not trust the eCommerce provider. “Trust” must be at the heart of the success of any eCommerce brand. This is pretty fundamental, I believe.

Specifically, in the case of Zomato, there’s a thin line that the brand has to toe. Zomato talks about the “joy of dining.” The brand has always striven to create a positioning of being bold without being in your face; innovative in a manner that simplifies rather than complicates; young without being immature; and witty without being boorish. Their mission is to ensure that every meal for everyone is a great experience and they have chosen to convey that messaging in an irreverent style that has sometimes strayed across the line into being offensive. When that has happened, they have responded immediately to set the tone straight. In this instance too, they will have to respond quickly, visibly, and in a manner that showcases the systemic solutions they have in place to address issues like this. But they cannot afford to be seen as petty, inconsiderate, and vindictive.

Especially in times of crisis, brands should be governed by their values and driven by a sense of purpose in delivering value to their customers. So long as there is clarity, commitment, and consistency in these matters they will generate a trust pull. And, that’s enough food for thought for all of us.


(This Perspective was originally published on November 29, 2018 by Shekhar Badve on LinkedIn)