One click for phở, food ordering goes online in Việt Nam

It’s 4 in the afternoon, and in a recently begun tradition, Linh Giang looks around and asks her colleagues which kind of food they want to have today.

“T.G.I.F (Thank God It’s Friday), let’s have some Huế cakes, OK?” she asks, before tapping a number into her cellphone to call the service, which delivers 12 packs of cakes to her office, a securities company based in District 1, just 20 minutes later.

Giang and her 11 co-workers all share the same eating habits, and ordering food online is the best choice when they are ‘blocked’ in the office for eight hours a day.

Food-WebsiteA woman browses a website that sells food online at her office in Ho Chi Minh City June 28, 2013.

With more and more food services reaching their potential customers via Facebook, ordering food online has become trendy for local white-collar workers, who love to enjoy their favorite dishes without having to leave the office.

Thu, who works for a private company in Tân Bình District, said she came across a Facebook page that provides familiar cooked food for lunch, and soon became a loyal customer of the service.

“I only have to bring the cooked rice with me to the office, and order the food from that Facebook page to have a complete lunch,” she said.

Facebook pages like this have mushroomed over the last year, selling everything from simple lunch dishes to imported luxury specialties.

“Just remain seated at the office, browse Facebook, and click.

Your food will come in minutes.”

Said Thùy Dương, an employee at a media company.

Building trust

Phuoc, owner of the Facebook page Bếp của Phước (Phước’s kitchen), said she began the business thinking that many people are too busy to cook their favorite dishes, or those that require complex preparation and are time consuming.

“Luckily my service has been warmly received by customers.”

She said.

Phước said the most important factor that determines the success of a food-selling Facebook page is trust.

“Anyone can claim their food is made from fresh and good ingredients, but it is not so easy when it comes to building trust in customers.”

Phước said.

Delivery is another challenge, according to Nguyễn Khắc Hiếu, owner of the quavatonline (online snack) website.

Orders come mostly in the late afternoon, when traffic is heavy and delivery is affected, Hiếu said.

Still, he said, selling food online remains a service with great potential.

“White-collar workers are hard to please, but they have stable incomes and usually contribute useful feedback for the service providers.”

He explained.

Many customers, however, say they may never return to this style of ordering food thanks to bitter experiences.

Thanh Ngọc, who works for a shipping company in District 1, said she once ordered a pack of homemade beef and pork specialty from a Facebook page for VND300,000 for her family lunch.

But the food was delivered frozen, and it tasted awful, unlike what was advertised on Facebook, Ngọc recalled.

“Now I only trust food that I can see and touch by myself, not those displayed online.”

She said.



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