The story behind food delivery on trains is an interesting one. While pantry cars were on trains and food carts on stations, passengers had quite limited options. But all this changed after IRCTC launched its eCatering services back in 2015.
Zoop, one of the first IRCTC partners for food delivery on trains, connected customers with sumptuous meals and city specialties at a time when online food delivery was still in its infancy. So far, Zoop has already served over 8 lakh customers.
The idea was clicking, and numbers started jumping month on month until last March 2020, when lockdown happened and trains stopped bringing business to a halt. On 1 February 2021, IRCTC announced the resumption of eCatering service on trains after lockdown and now plans to expand this service to all major railway stations from the initial 57 in Phase 1.
According to the company, Zoop has pioneered an automated order processing technology that enables smooth coordination between restaurants, passengers, and railway systems. Along with food ordering, passengers can check PNR status, timetable, coach position, platform location, and more, both on www.zoopindia.com and its mobile app.
The company has emerged as a key contributor for eCatering on trains and now plans to expand to over 250 stations in FY 2021-22, serving 20 thousand meals daily and covering all reserved trains.
Zoop is one of the first few IRCTC approved eCatering partners authorized for pan-India operations. All the restaurants are FSSAI certified, and delivery boys have IRCTC issued ID cards after strict background checks.
According to Puneet Sharma, founder of Zoop, "We are a digital platform created with the purpose to connect the passengers with the top restaurants. IRCTC has always been incredibly supportive of new ideas, and in 2016 when they came up with eCatering policy, we became an authorized aggregator and started scaling our services."
Sharma, after his MBA, worked with brands like LG Electronics, Reliance, and Virgin Mobiles. At the age of 31 and the peak of his career, he took a leap of faith and started Zoop with savings and contributions from friends and relatives.
Commenting on the competition in the food delivery space, Sharma added, "Our strength lies in our experience in execution of on-ground activities and an intelligent technology built especially for train food ordering and deliveries, which has helped us scale to this level. We are poised to take on any competition owing to our strong competency and inherent strengths."
Zoop enables food delivery on trains through its partner restaurants. Passengers can order online from the website or app or by simply calling 801 080 2222. Its technology platform integrated with IRCTC helps restaurants track orders as per passengers' PNR and train route, and later, the delivery happens directly at passengers' seats or berth.
After positioning itself as a clear winner in the food delivery segment on trains, the company plans to offer its services even before or after the completion of journeys. These will range from arranging conveyance, accommodation, home delivery of meals, ticket bookings, and more, thereby emerging as a one-stop solution for railway passengers.