Deliveroo is planning to experiment with dynamic pricing, which could involve increases and decreases in the consumer pricepoint, MCA’s Restaurant Conference heard.

Speaking prior to reports that Uber was in talks to acquire Deliveroo chief operating officer Rohan Pradhan told delegates consumers could be given a discount during quieter priods, or charged more during bad weather.

Pradhan said there was a belief in at Deliveroo that the consumer use of delivery could be much more frequent, and that it was down to the industry to make it a more compelling proposition.

Meanwhile he said the company’s work on virtual brands, which he said were creating an average uplift in sales for existing brands of 70%, was allowing operators to experiment with new concepts, cuisines and pricepoints, which could be fed back into their core brand.

He disputed an assumption that a proliferation of options available for delivery was cannibalising of the restaurant sector, arguing customer frequency correlated with higher levels of choice.

On the potential for dynamic pricing, he said: “I do believe pricing is vehicle is something we could play with, although I don’t believe it should be a one way street. There will be times when we give value back to consumer in the form of lower discounted pricing.

“Other times, if it is raining and we want to charge customers more, it is because we are a marketplace, and we want to make sure when riders are out in the rain, we pay them more.

“When we think of pricing we don’t necessarily think of surge pricing, but structurally different, or dynamic pricing.”

On the opportunity to increase consumer frequency of delivery, Pradhan said: “I think there’s a massive opportunity to increase the frequency use of the consumer.

“People eat three times a day. The average consumer has 1092 annual needs for food.

“The beauty of food is a naturally high frequency use case.

“People use takeaway or delivery at best 25 times a day, and dine out one in every nine meal occasions – that should be a much higher number going forward.

“When we ask why that frequency is not naturally increasing, that comes down to proposition. As an industry there are very clear signs that if we create a better prop, that frequency can step change.”

Pradhan argued that virtual brands enabled operators to experiment with lower pricepoints, for examples, without interfering with the core brand.

He said: “Operators are experimenting, doing a lot more things, and we are supporting them with data and insights.

“If you launch a new product, we can tell your conversion rate, compared to industry average, we can tell you how many people see your menu, the frequency that people come back and order.

“We also help with brand, menu design, packaging.”

On virtual brands creating too much competition, he said: “Customer frequency is very highly correlated on the amount of choice on the platform. As long as you’re bringing a selection that is value adding to customers, you increase the size of the overall pie people are spending.”