Contributing editor, Peter Backman is a long-term foodservice sector guru and founder of theDelivery.World, a platform that connects the delivery sector and makes sense of the myriad changes and challenges that affect the sector across the globe.

In the dynamic world of international restaurant delivery, large players like DoorDash, UberEats, and Delivery Hero, alongside their smaller counterparts, face the complex task of tailoring their operating models to diverse cultural needs. Launching into a new market without first understanding and addressing these cultural differences can be a costly oversight.

Cultural distinctions manifest at various levels, starting with widely varying preferences for different types of food. While pizza and burgers enjoy global popularity, the acceptance of other items exhibits a more nuanced pattern. Sushi, for example, holds significance not only in Japan but also in Israel. Price sensitivity also varies considerably; a delivered pizza in India costs around $6, while in Sweden, it can be two or three times that amount.

While global issues like environmental concerns and ubiquitous companies like Amazon and Apple create a semblance of uniformity, cultural attitudes and practices often outweigh these global pressures. Varied perspectives on marriage, treatment of the elderly and young, and attitudes towards credit and purchasing decisions present challenges that may impact delivery companies differently.

The UK’s pub culture intertwines with a modern demand for convenience, emphasizing the importance of prompt and efficient deliveries. Understanding the value of timely service is pivotal for success in this market. In contrast, South Korea, with its tech-savvy population, considers restaurant delivery apps integral to daily life, emphasizing both speed and a seamless digital experience.

In the Middle East, where communal dining is cherished, collaborating with local influencers can significantly enhance a restaurant’s visibility. Word of mouth holds substantial weight, making influencer partnerships an effective strategy. In Australia, sustainability is a cultural focus, reflected in consumer choices and successful businesses that integrate eco-friendly practices into their branding.

Business organization structures also differ globally, with owner-managers prevalent in countries like Italy and South Africa, while the paid manager is crucial in the UK. Franchises, dominant in the US, play a lesser role in countries like France.

Cultural differences extend to the regulatory sphere, where local versus national control impacts the setting and enforcement of ordinances. This diversity requires restaurant delivery companies to adopt varied approaches to comply with legal variations.

Traversing South America, regulatory landscapes fluctuate significantly, demanding a nuanced understanding for seamless operations. In India, state-level regulations and cultural considerations necessitate an adaptable approach, even extending to menu adjustments.

Crucially, the legal status of delivery drivers varies globally, influencing costs, contract structures, and employment dynamics.

The implications of these differences are vast and impact business operations, from product offerings to target audiences. Operating internationally mandates identifying and accounting for these distinctions, ideally before entering a new market. Success lies in recognizing and adapting to these nuances, making cultural awareness a compass for strategies that resonate locally and set the stage for enduring success in the global world of restaurant delivery.