Bolt Food South Africa expands into Johannesburg as it guns for rivals

SOUTH AFRICA – Bolt Food South Africa, the food delivery arm of ride-hailing firm Bolt, has expanded into Johannesburg, targeting to take on main competitors Uber Eats and Mr D Food in the market.

The food delivery app, which launched in Cape Town during the onset of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, says it has experienced 50% month-on-month growth since the beginning of the year and is betting on competitive prices, as it eyes nationwide expansion.

“We piloted Bolt Food in Cape Town last year, with outstanding results. Restaurants and their customers welcomed Bolt Food’s affordable prices and quick deliveries, and we are excited to bring this solution to Johannesburg, and to other South African cities in the coming months,” says James Townsend-Rose, country manager for Bolt Food in South Africa.

The company plans to soon set up a presence in Pretoria, followed by Durban.

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“We already see huge growth in the industry and we believe there is plenty of room for growth. In the food delivery space, it’s always hard to find a good value proposition with the same restaurants and the same offerings as your competitors, and for us, it’s one of price and this speaks to the restaurant and customers.

“We offer the restaurant a very compelling commission, while our customers pay less for both the food and the delivery fees,” he explained.

Bolt Food South Africa currently has around 700 active restaurant partners and 2,500 courier partners in Cape Town, with these numbers increasing all the time.

In its quest to have a stronger competitive advantage, the platform says it is offering more value to customers, with delivery fees starting from R2 (US$0.14) within 3 kilometres of the restaurant that customers order from.

Uber Eats has a delivery fee starting from R3 (US$0.21), while Mr D Food starts at R5 (US$0.35).

To entice potential customers, the food service has an introductory offer of free delivery for orders where the distance between the food outlet and the delivery destination is less than 4.5 kilometres for the launch period.

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Bolt Food will also offer discounts of up to 50% on food orders from selected restaurants within that period. Absa customers can get up to 30% cashback on their Bolt Food orders paid for with qualifying cards.

Bolt Food sets itself apart from the reset

In June 2021, Bolt Food partnered with Cape Town’s Pathway Cycles in an electric bicycle pilot that could see food delivery couriers boosting their income, reducing the service’s impact on the environment, and changing the way fleet owners work with delivery platforms.

Pathway Cycles owns a fleet of environmentally-friendly electric bicycles, each fitted with a Vizicube digital screen box that plays paid-for advertising.

It then partners with couriers registered on the Bolt Food platform to deliver food items ordered via the service.

Competition in the local food delivery space has been increasing, with new players such as Dinnerbox, Delivery Lady, and MyChef entering the market.

However, Townsend-Rose believes competition is healthy for both the market and customers.

“We’d be silly not to take them [competitors] seriously, but we believe our value proposition is competitive enough, and the increasing competition is good for us and it’s good for the customer – it keeps us on our toes and we relish it.

“We already see huge growth in the industry and this presents a great opportunity for job creation and industry growth.”

Townsend-Rose said in the distant future, the company could add several new verticals such as adding a grocery, alcohol or pharmacy delivery option.

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