Zomato Feedback 2.0

Zomato, the India grown restaurant listing site that has now gone big-time international has asked for feedback again. Here's my shot at it.

The Good:
The new design that was launched to keep up with international standards is beautiful. Less clutter and yet as much useful. The things that are new and I like most are:

1.Tips for a restaurant - Take a look at this restaurant. The tips mentioned for the restaurant are so perfect and you don't even need to read all reviews to understand the best that the place has to offer.



2. Reviews Sorting: Allowing the users to sort based on reviews on the date, rating and credibility makes the reviews actually useful for users. It's no longer about going through multiple reviews trying to find the latest/trustable ones.

3. Social Recommendations - Restaurants that have been rated high by my friends have been shown as recommendation from my friends. I like the transposition of high rating to recommended. Going beyond the number and putting a stamp of approval. This is a very useful feature for influencing user's decisions.


4. Management response on reviews: This restaurant's reviews have reply from the management of the restaurant. Not only does it help to know both sides of the story but adds a constructive layer of feedback for the ecosystem they are thriving on.


5. The New Mobile App - The new app is has some very useful UI changes. Most importantly the maps interface. The earlier maps in footer was kind of cluttering the page. A different tab for the maps is a welcome change. The filter and sorting interface is also little more easier to use.

What I Love: Easter-eggs and communication. 
They are so good at communicating and putting hidden messages everywhere. Here are some examples.

1. Zomato's font face is named "ZomatoIsHiring".

2. Their twitter bio states - "less than 5% promo tweets" - does a lot good when other brands are flooding your timeline with self promos. 

3. Facebook updates: Their cartoonish updates facebook are really something to look forward. Engaging and worth sharing. It's just not another promo in the time line. 

4. Taking a stand: The Gurgaon pub fiasco made the Zomato team respond and the CEO looked into it directly. That says a lot about a company that is in the business of telling the good from the bad. 


The Bad:
1. Auto suggest on search - High time they get a list of locations, restaurants and cuisines in the auto suggest of the search. Typing the whole query is just too old world.

2. Best menu items at a place - As parts of the Tips, they should dig out data of best menu items to try from user reviews. Zomato must be having enough data to tell me a must try item on the menu.

3. Personalized recommendation - This is extension of the social recommendation may be. Zomato knows what kind of restaurants I have been looking at in the past few months including my budget, neighborhood, drink/no drinks preference, veg/non-veg preference. Yet, the recommendation on the app is just too random. Can't they give me a list of 5 restaurants I could choose from? And get atleast 3 of those 5 restaurants good enough for me check out the menu.

4. Time based rating - The restaurants rating are aggregate over a lifetime, what would really help to know is the rating over the last 30 days / 90 days / lifetime. Every time the staff of a restaurant changes, there is a change is food and service. The ratings should reflect that change.

Good to add
Part of "The bad" but these things are more of an added feature I would like to see over time that would make the application even more useful.

1. Cuisine Listing - Cuisine filter has too broad categories now. "North Indian" is just too many differnet kinds of food. It would be helpful if they could have narrow filters for Marwadi, Gujarati, Afghani cuisine. Even for south India, there are too varied tastes between Kerala / Tamil Nadu / Karantaka / Andhara. Update - I just noticed this is there but on the web app you have to type to find this. On the mobile app this is available to see in the filters.

2. Collections of the best - I would love to see a curated list of best restaurants for dating, best restaurants for hanging out with friends, best kids friendly restaurant. This will make the decision making so much easier. The current "hangout with friends" options on homepage is just a renaming for "cafes", that doesn't really help much.
This way Zomato will also have more badges to show for the restaurant. This is something similar to what TripAdvisor does for hotels. The restaurants will love to flaunt that.

3. Catering - The whole section is half-hearted effort. There is no decision one can make looking at the catering section. This section is new so it's too early to make a verdict, but Zomato is mature enough to not launch such half cooked features. What I would expect is a sample menu. Tell me what I can get for the given price. Give me different price points and the corresponding menu. Information about the dishes they use will also be helpful. Do I get disposable plates or Chandi ki Thali (silverware)?

4. Encourage people to rate a place. - When I login after a week, show me a widget with list of restaurants for which I checked out the menu earlier and ask me to rate them. When I do, ask me to write a review as well. This way there is a high chance of getting a hit of the right restaurant that I visited. How else would you make me go to the same restaurant's page again?

5. Facebook friends - I just noticed I have 129 FB friends on Zomato but never have I received a single alert about a review or rating from them. I believe instead of making the user explicitly follow FB friends on Zomato, make it default and let the user opt out. No its not spam, just a matter of default options.

6. Data - Minimum Amount for Home delivery - A lot of restaurants don't accept low value orders for delivery. Calling up multiple restaurants on a lonely famished evening only to find out that they won't deliver that little is too painful and embarrassing, providing this data is as useful as "Cost For 2".

7. Data - Private events - A lot of restaurants have special packages for birthday's / corporate parties. Having this data will be useful. This is somewhere between dining out and catering.

8. Data - Seasonal / festive guides - I want to order sweets for Diwali gifting. Where do I start? Navratra fasting - where do I go? A seasonal / festive guide that covers such situations would be very useful. Treat this on the lines of New Year Party listings that Zomato has been doing already. Needs editorial efforts but it will be able to payoff for itself. This might be covered with the point #2 mentioned above.

9. Increase CTR of ads - I am not really convinced with the way Zomato shows ads. Not showing sponsored listings in the search results may be good, but on the other hand it reduces returns for the advertiser. A matching result that is sponsored, isn't a bad thing to show, assuming the place has good ratings. Even in the current banner ad format, showing ratings, location and social endorsement will increase the effectiveness of the ads. Location will help the user, social endorsement will help the advertiser and ratings will help maintain the platform's credibility.


As someone trying to build a product company, what I like most is their their focus and execution. I LOVE their focus of doing one thing. And doing it so well that they could take it international. 

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