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The food delivery experts

In the world of online food delivery, Talabat has carved a niche for itself. Smart SMB takes a look into the ‘behind the scenes’ of the brand and what makes it unique.


When you hear someone talk about ordering food at home, generally brands like Zomato and Uber Eats come in the mind. But if you happen to be in the Middle East, you will relate more to another name altogether, that name being Talabat. Over a decade and a half old now, Talabat has quickly become the leading food delivery platform in the Middle Eastern region, beating their competition by focusing on their customers for strength. Relying on their technological innovation for keeping up with the pace of advancing technology, Talabat is always striving to improve and offer their customers the best of services available.

The Start

It was back in 2004 when a group of young Kuwaitis launched Talabat with the basic aim of making ordering food from restaurants easy and seamless. The gap was the inherent challenge in ordering food and relying on restaurant delivery systems, which are not always reliable or promise a quick delivery to their customers. Launching of Talabat helped these services get better by eliminating the need for the customers to rely completely on the restaurants. Talabat not only focuses on providing fast paced and quick delivery service for their customers but also focuses on personalized services for them, which gives them an added edge in the market.

At the time of the launch, there were only a handful of people, including founding member Abdulaziz Al Loughani, who believed in the idea. It was only after the venture succeeded in Kuwait, that it was expanded to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and then eventually to the rest of the Gulf region and beyond. What started with a few believing people, the Talabat family has grown steadily and now has close to 1,000 employees. “Ever since the inception of this company, we have paired global knowledge with local talent and know-how. We believe in working hyper-locally to give the best experience possible to our valued customers. As a result, Talabat is a part of the Delivery Hero Group, one of the leading global online food ordering and delivery marketplaces,” says Yildirim while beaming with pride.

The Digital Presence

Talabat has been present in the digital world since the very beginning. Before apps became all the rage, the company had a website for their customers to use. Later on, they launched the app as well, which is one of the most used apps in the region.

“Thanks to our digital innovation, we are not only the market leader in the food delivery service in the region, but we have also created a new benchmark in the F&B industry by setting exceptionally high standards of customer service,” he shares. In today’s date, Talabat is deemed as a compelling tech start-up success story that keeps up with the pace of changing technology. It is this thought pattern of always wanting to stay ahead of the curve that has kept Talabat in the premier position in the market and made their app as one of the most used.


The New Concept

Very recently, Talabat launched the concept of cloud kitchens, which allows them to support restaurant partners to reach new customer segments and scale their businesses. Not only this, but cloud kitchens help promote a culture of food entrepreneurship as well by offering food innovators the chance to convert their dreams into a very tangible reality. “By providing infrastructure and shared services, we also helps existing businesses scale up faster without the traditional risks associated with business expansion,” shares Yildirim on a cheerful and positive note.

The Challenges and Milestones

In terms of the challenges faced, when Talabat was launched, the industry in this particular region was in a nascent stage. It took some extreme and concrete efforts on the part of the founding team to convince restaurants and convey the exact value that Talabat was adding to their brand. It was a difficult task to get the restaurant owners to trust something new and almost unheard of till before. The biggest doubt in most minds was the sustainability of the model as many owners had the fear and hesitation of sharing their own profits and revenues with Talabat. According to Muhammed, it was an even bigger and a very much real challenge to convert the larger community of consumers who were used to the takeaway and restaurant home deliveries, to use an online platform for meeting their dining needs on a regular basis.

Talking about the milestones, Yildirim proudly shares, “Our orders across all countries witnessed a growth of 100% only in the last three years. Not just that, we also celebrated our 100 millionth order last year.” Another milestone was when the company acquired a portion of Zomato’s business in the UAE, which was a very valuable addition to the Talabat family as Zomato being one their biggest competitors. In Yildirim’s view, all these milestones and success are built on their strategy to constantly provide choice, speed, and an amazing experience to their customers. They truly believe that their customer is the king and back this philosophy of theirs through their services.

The Competition

Customers are at the core of their philosophy, and all their efforts are centered around creating a better customer experience. Talabat was the first company in the food delivery sector to launch a mobile app in the Middle Eastern region back in 2011, an achievement in its own right. The company has also continued to find innovative ways of meeting their customers’ needs by providing them with the best services and personalized experience. “We are well ahead of our competitors and our numbers speak for us in this regard,” says a confident Yildirim.

With utter belief in his company and team, Yildirim shares, “Another matter of pride for us is that we are successful in each of the seven markets that we are present in, in and around the MENA region. We have been able to achieve this because we are born and raised in the Middle East and are proud of our heritage.” Not just this, but their last-mile logistics capabilities are the best in class and they have the biggest and the best network of drivers complemented by a leading logistics team, which sets Talabat apart from its competition, in both delivery services and customer support.



The Strength

For Talabat, people and their convenience are at the core of their philosophy. So for people who prefer cooking at home, they built their grocery delivery service to suit the needs of such people specifically. Hence, for them, people are not their competition, but their strength.

The Innovation

Talabat has already launched the new category of groceries, and is now launching the category of pharmacy as well. They are also continuously improving the app’s functionality by adding new features that make it easier to discover restaurants, engage with the app, and pay for the order. Additionally, the cloud kitchen is one of their latest tech offerings that prove that they are moving with the pace of the changing technology and are well equipped to tackle any change that may come their way.

The Future

“We are excited for the Expo 2020 and all its themes, opportunity, mobility, and sustainability,” says Yildirim. As a company, Talabat strongly supports these themes and believe they are vital for building the future. They are expectedly expecting a boost in the business as the Expo is a huge opportunity for any company of their magnitude to reach out to the visitors who will be in the UAE for the event. The last Expo in Shanghai attracted a high number of visitors, and Dubai is projected to attract over 25 million visitors due to its geographical location and its position as a world-class tourist destination.

As far as expansion plans are concerned, Talabat is, for now, focusing on providing the best service possible to their customers in the UAE and across the Middle East. Currently, Talabat is partnered with over 13,000 restaurants and vendors with more than 24,000 branches in the GCC and Jordan. “At the moment, we are content and happy in supporting our partners across all seven countries, as they are a key part of our business,” sums up Yildirim.

The Verdict

Talabat, as a company, has a bright future ahead if they continue on their path. The way it has been able to keep up with the changing technology and has evolved at every step to serve its customers is truly remarkable and the company will do well to keep this up. Replicating the success of years gone by will prove tougher and tougher but the innovations that have been implemented and the ones which are in the pipeline will go a long way in helping the company achieve the desired results. It is always difficult to retain existing customers than gaining new ones, but Talabat and its philosophy prove that nothing is too difficult if the customers have their faith intact.