Restaurant review site Zomato is starting off the week by adding five new cities in three countries to its listings. This sees Zomato entering New Zealand for the first time (in Auckland and Wellington), and expanding its coverage of South Africa (adding Cape Town to Johannesburg) and the UK (adding Manchester and Birmingham to London).
The India-based startup is also rolling out a site revamp today with a new look and more social features. The biggest change is that the Zomato site now supports user-generated photo uploads; also new are personalized ratings (so that you see ratings aggregated from just your buddies), threaded comments, the ability to query a review, and direct messaging between users. All that is now live on the new-look Zomato site, and will be added to the mobile apps in due course.
Zomato CEO and co-founder Deepinder Goyal explained to TechinAsia that the startup listened to feedback from users who said they want to take pictures and be able to use them in real-time on Zomato. That also means the site now has reviews of individual dishes in addition to all its other collected and user-generated venue information. Deepinder says that all the new social features are a “positive step” in getting more high quality content for people to browse.
A testing ground for Oz
The updates not only make Zomato more social, but also serve to up the ante against Yelp and emerging review sites like Singapore-made Burpple. But Zomato usually goes for emerging or under-served markets, so those three rivals are not yet clashing head-on in many cities. Yelp also operates in New Zealand and across the UK.
Deepinder admits that New Zealand could serve as a testing ground for expansion of its listings and reviews to Australia. “It’s the only English-speaking market left for us,” he adds, indicating that the startup isn’t looking to North America yet. “The product needs to mature more,” he says, before the team can consider venturing into such saturated markets.
Building up Jakarta
As Deepinder explained earlier this year, Zomato’s big upcoming project is expanding to Jakarta, which will entail translating the site for the first time ever. While it’s taking longer than anticipated, everything is on track with 8,000 Jakarta restaurants collated, which is nearly half way there. It’ll take a maximum of two months longer, the CEO reckons.
Turkey is also a possible candidate for expansion.
Currently Zomato has 15 million visitors across mobile and the web, with 2.5 million just on mobile.
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