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Zomato acquires logistics-tech startup Sparse Labs, to provide restaurants and users with real-time tracking info

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We’ve all gone through that phase of helplessness where we’re extremely hungry and order food online(maybe Zomato!?) but do not know when the delivery guy will arrive. We then have to vile time, and wait for message updates on the status of our order — getting our hopes up every one in a while. And most of the times, it is late.

In a bid to solve this problem, online restaurant search platform Zomato has today announced the acquisition of a logistics-tech startup Sparse Labs to beef up its delivery-tech capabilities, especially tracking. The financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Sparse Labs specializes in technologies that help restaurants track and optimise their in-house delivery fleet. It allows the restaurants to track each of their drivers, allocate orders to suitable delivery guys, while also showing real-time updates to customers who’ve ordered the food.

Launched in July 2014, the product — a simple lightweight Android app — has been bootstrapped by founder Pankaj Batra and his small team from their offices in Gurgaon. The company was launched with an aim to ensure that new-gen. hyperlocal delivery startups are able to complete the delivery in lowest possible time. They also focused on lowering the delivery cost, while providing maximum customer satisfaction and delight.

Sparse Lab’s Android app basic fucntionality is to transfer the rider’s location to both the restaurant and user both in real time. But, it has built upon the same to provide riders with route information to ensure quicker and efficient deliveries. The system also uses machine learning to identify a rider’s proximity to the restaurant and his familiarity with a neighbourhood to further optimize deliveries.

Commenting on the addition of Sparse Labs to the Zomato team, founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal says,

Joining forces with Sparse Labs will allow us to significantly improve the food ordering experience on the app, by giving users real-time GPS-based status updates on their order.

While we were already working on making this feature available for deliveries handled by our logistics partners, Sparse Labs will now help us enable delivery tracking for restaurant-owned fleets as well.

In the official blogpost, he further added that Sparse Labs will be renamed to ‘Zomato Trace’ and provided to partner restaurants on its food delivery network — free of cost. The restaurants in addition to using the software tech also have the option of upgrading the rider’s vehicle using “a proprietary GPS tracker developed by Sparse, that can be fitted onto bikes.”

At the restaurant end, this technology will help make deliveries highly cost and time efficient, allowing them to optimise delivery routes and ensuring minimal wait time for riders.

adds Goyal in the anouncement.

As the technology is restaurant-oriented, it will be highly critical for Zomato whose 80 per cent of delivery order are fulfilled by restaurants themselves. This will also help them one up their key rival Swiggy, who not only has its own delivery fleet but has recently also snagged a fresh $15 million in Series D to topup its coffers.

Zomato, on the other hand, might have managed to cross a million orders in the month of July alongwith an increase in average order value and the contribution margin, but it still lags behind Swiggy who completes 1.2 million orders a month. The company has recently also been going through a funding crunch, and has pulled out physical presence from nine countries including the US and the UK to cut down on operational costs.

A hands-on guy fascinated by new apps, technologies and enterprise products.

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