Bolt Food shutting down in South Africa

Ride-hailing and on-demand delivery company Bolt has confirmed its Bolt Food service will shut down in South Africa in December.

MyBroadband asked the company about the development after receiving a tip-off from an industry insider.

“At this time, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue our food delivery operations in South Africa due to business reasons,” a Bolt spokesperson said.

“The decision to exit this market is necessary to streamline our resources and maximise our overall efficiency as a company.”

The Bolt Food app will stop taking customer orders in South Africa from 8 December 2023.

“We are working closely with our couriers to ensure a smooth transition during this process,” the spokesperson said.

Bolt said it remained “fully committed” to its other verticals in the country and would continue to focus on delivering good quality services to its customers.

Bolt Food courier

Bolt Food first launched in South Africa with a rollout in Cape Town in April 2020.

After reaching 800 restaurants in the Mother City, it expanded to parts of Johannesburg in October 2021, where it initially offered deliveries from around 300 restaurants.

At that time, Bolt Food country manager James Townsend-Rose said the platform planned to launch in other South African cities “in the coming months”.

Its next targets would have been Pretoria and Durban, but that never happened.

A few months earlier, Townsend-Rose told MyBroadband that Bolt Food had big plans to compete with Uber Eats and Mr D Food in South Africa.

It included expanding the service to all 23 cities and towns in which it was operating its ride-hailing service at that time.

Cheaper commission fees and customer prices

A major part of Bolt Food’s strategy was to undercut Uber Eats and Mr D Food on pricing.

While Townsend-Rose acknowledged the market share and popularity of its rivals, he said the platform could deliver the same type of brand proposition that its ride-hailing did — better value.

It initially charged a flat 15% entry-level commission fee to all restaurant partners, compared to the 30% maximum commission levied by Uber Eats and Mr D Food.

Townsend-Rose said the structure would change as South Africa’s economy recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic, although he stressed that the service would remain “very competitive” compared to its rivals.

MyBroadband’s comparison of Bolt Food, Uber Eats, and Mr D Food prices in December 2022 showed the service’s low fees for restaurants translated into better prices for customers.

The average price of orders from five restaurants on Bolt Food was cheaper than the same items from its rivals.

It was also the cheapest service for three out of the five restaurants, and the second most affordable for one of the outstanding restaurants.

Another interesting development in the e-hailing and food delivery space has been the launch of third-party helper services like Lula Rides that support people who want to become drivers.

It helps prospective drivers pass their learner’s licence, provides practical scooter training, and gets them started on various platforms, including Uber, Uber Eats, Mr D, Bolt, One Cart, and Woolies Dash.

Unfortunately, Bolt Food will no longer be among these lists of services from December.

Now read: We’re here to build, not disrupt SA tourism — Airbnb

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Bolt Food shutting down in South Africa