Australia’s premier Asian food delivery platform, EASI is joining forces with HungryPanda in a merger that will see them become the world’s largest food delivery platform serving the overseas Chinese market.

Combined, EASI and HungryPanda will have over 3.5 million customers, 60,000 engaged merchants and over 40,000 drivers.

Launched in Melbourne in 2014, EASI is the Australian owned leader in this space, while HungryPanda, founded in the UK in 2017, operates across 10 countries, including Australia and has raised over US$220 million in funding. It is the only food delivery company that has completed Series D funding totalling US$130 million, the highest amount raised by an Asian food delivery service.

EASI national operations manager, Kitty Lu regards the acquisition as a big complement and retribution from investors.

“The two teams are in the process of merging across the various markets we operate in, but in Australia, we are undergoing product and personnel integrations. In the smaller cities such as Adelaide and Perth, EASI operations has terminated and already merged into the HungryPanda app. In the major cities like Melbourne and Sydney, we are still in the process of an internal restructure,” Lu told Retailbiz in a recent interview.

“When the process is complete, we will invest heavily in promotions to support our merchants, especially after two extremely tough years due to the pandemic. We will also focus on enhancing driver safety products and technologies as we will have more drivers onboard and want to bring them assurance in both their income and safety.

“A lot of Asian and Chinese restaurants are on EASI and Hungry Panda rather than Uber and Deliveroo, so after the merge, they will only need to worry about one platform and communicate with one business development representative instead of two. We believe it will be more efficient with less handling time for our merchants.”

HungryPanda prides itself on being a more valuable food delivery platform and charges lower commission rates compared to other services which will remain within the 20% to 25% range.

“We understand that with Asian foods, there is less margin because the food is known for being good value. The merchants and the platform are in an interdependent relationship. We want to give our merchants more reasons and benefits for us to support them and let them make money and survive. If they can’t (survive), then we can’t,” Lu said.

“We have helped merchants, particularly those in the older generation, to adapt to the digital age and shift ordering online during Covid. We also want to help merchants self-promote with their own promotions, enable them to easily personalise any offers and reach out directly to the platform’s users. We provide them with data insights such as the number of views and orders and they can use this to send messages and share vouchers, for example. We are creating different promotional channels that can provide merchants with more innovation and inspiration to better present themselves.”

According to Lu, consumers have become used to contact-free delivery and there is an increasing trend toward not only purchasing food online, but fresh food such as groceries.

“This is why we’ve launched a new business model called ‘PandaFresh’ to provide fresh food delivery but in our own unique way. For example, most platforms use the same partnership model with supermarkets and are dependent on their stock levels. But we set up our own centralised warehouses and do our own analysis of the most popular food items among our users. We control the stock, make sure we have enough, and that it is of the highest quality. Our Melbourne warehouse was set up in January, but we also have others in overseas markets.”

HungryPanda also launched another business at the end of 2021 called ‘Vouchers Panda’ – a similar concept to Groupon. “We offer redeemable deals that can be purchased online because we are trying to transform ourselves and shift our focus on food delivery only to become a one stop lifestyle service app.”