Gojek working on how to offer food delivery service in Singapore

Gojek, which started out as a ride-hailing platform and later began offering services like food delivery, massage and home cleaning, became Indonesia's first unicorn in 2016 when it was valued at US$1.3 billion. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Ride-hailing company Gojek, which has grown into an app-for-everything in Indonesia, is working out how to offer a food delivery service in Singapore.

The company, which started in Indonesia by offering rides on motorcycle taxis known as ojek in 2011, could also be expanding to Malaysia, it said on Monday (July 22).

Gojek launched its private-hire car service in Singapore late last year as part of a US$500 million (S$680 million) regional expansion plan.

"In Singapore, we have continued to grow, but we only have one service Go-Car. We have been seeing a good growth. Within the first three months, we reached our first one million bookings," group president Andre Soelistyo told The Straits Times during a media briefing at the launch of a new company logo.

He added that this positive result was also seen earlier in Vietnam and Thailand.

Gojek started a food delivery service in Indonesia in mid-2015, and has launched its Go-Food service in Vietnam and Thailand, where it also operates ride-hailing services.

It sees Singapore as a prospective market in food delivery service, but the biggest challenge is that the city-state does not have motorcycle taxis as public transport, unlike Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

"Our unique (strategy) is to use partner drivers of our existing ride-hailing service to also do food delivery service," said Mr Andre, adding that Gojek is now evaluating how it can replicate in Singapore its successes in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

"Hopefully, we will get an answer not too long from now," he added.

Gojek claims to be the largest food delivery service company in South-east Asia, even beating regional competitors in India, which has a population of more than four times that of Indonesia's 260 million. It said it currently has more than two million partner drivers and 400,000 partner merchants in South-east Asia.

Gojek's founder and group chief executive Nadiem Makarim said: "When we first launched Go-Food in Indonesia, we became the biggest player in the food delivery service in the country within six hours."

He recalled that during the time of the launch, there were numerous food delivery services in Indonesia, but none catered to the small food outlets or street food stalls which actually had the highest demand for delivery service.

Gojek and its main rival, Singapore-based Grab, have been competing especially in South-east Asia's ride hailing market, as the two home-grown, billion-dollar players brace themselves for expansion following the exit of Uber from the region. Last year, Grab acquired Uber's business in the region.

Grab, founded by Malaysians Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling, already offers food delivery and mobile payments in Singapore.

In Indonesia, Gojek has expanded to offer more than 20 services, including e-payment, house cleaning, and laundry services. It is known for its very affordable pricing, which analysts say is possible because the company pays for part of the costs out of its coffers.

Gojek is believed to be still facing a negative net operating cash flow, but it remains attractive to global investors, including Google, Visa and Tencent - among Gojek's shareholders - as the company has high asset valuations and revenue growth.

It said on Monday that the number of transactions in all its services has grown twelvefold in the past three years.

Mr Nadiem said Gojek could be expanding to Malaysia next, but he did not elaborate.

On the new company logo, he said: "Gojek is not a ride-hailing, food delivery service or payment company. We are a combination of (these services) and all other services that we offer. This is why we need a new logo that could represent our evolution."

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