On the rebound, ezCater touts power of food to entice workers back

The catering startup ezCater had a rough start to the pandemic, laying off hundreds of employees. Now amid a quicker rebound than expected, the Boston company has launched its first TV advertisement hoping to capitalize on the momentum.

With cases still low relative to months ago, and vaccination rates high in many large metro areas, ezCater sees office workers returning to work as a potential boon.

Chief Marketing Officer David Meiselman said that free food can be a particularly strong selling point for getting people back to the workplace. According to the company’s own research, about eight in 10 workers said free meals were the best way to lure them back to the office, and 93% of managers said more workers showed up when free food was offered.

Those results shaped ezCater’s new ads, which compare the draw of free food to having a waterslide in the office. The dry humor of the ad was thought of by the company’s in-house marketing team, with the shoot taking place at a vacant restaurant in Mexico City.

The ads just hit major markets across the country.

That’s a far cry from 15 months ago, when the pandemic blindsided the 14-year-old company that had been flying high less than a year earlier.

In April 2019, ezCater raised enough new funding to become a unicorn — a startup valued at $1 billion or more. Three months later, it moved into a Post Office Square office with enough space for 750 people.

That progress came to a halt as soon as the pandemic hit and ezCater had to lay off 400 employees at offices in Boston, Denver, Paris and Vancouver, with the Paris office closed for good. For a company tailored to helping to feed people during corporate meetings, the pandemic was about the worst thing that could happen to ezCater.

Company leaders chose not to chase individual food orders for those working from home, a realm already dominated by the likes of GrubHub, Uber Eats and Doordash. Instead, ezCater focused on its strength of delivering meals exactly when they’re needed — and not, say, a half-hour into a lunch presentation. It also kept meal deliveries going where workers never worked from home, like hospitals, retail, construction sites and warehouses.

“We’re really focused on ‘food for work at work,’” Meiselman said.

After the major layoffs more than a year ago, ezCater is back in hiring mode, with 40 open positions and plans for hiring about 200 people before the end of the year.

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Food Delivery Is Thriving Across Tampa Bay, But Restaurants Aren’t Sold

The early months of the pandemic were tough for restaurants, so to stay in business, many turned to delivery. But convenience comes at a price.

Thanks to services like DoorDash and Uber Eats, just about any restaurant food can now be delivered to your door.

But while delivery snowballed in popularity during the pandemic, those running the restaurants are discovering convenience comes at a cost.

At Golden Dinosaurs in downtown Gulfport, diners sip kombucha and munch on seitan steak on a small patio.

Audrey Dingeman and her husband started their vegan restaurant in 2018. The dining room remains closed, so the patio is the only option for those who want to eat in.

“When we realized what was coming, we switched our business model overnight,” she said, referring to the early days of pandemic-related shutdowns in March 2020.

Part of switching the businesses model was offering delivery. At first, it was an in-house service.

“We made up our own radius, we drove our own cars, it was definitely kind of a band-aided together kind of business model. But it was something we had to do,” she said.

Many restaurants turned to delivery services to survive the early months of lockdowns and restrictions on seating capacity, according to Kevin Murphy, an economist at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

“There were a lot of restaurants that adapted really, really well because parts of it were set up to do so,” Murphy said. “And they had the ability to accommodate takeout and delivery service. Not all restaurants are set up to do that.”

Delivery platforms enjoyed a monster year in 2020. A recent analysis by Bloomberg found that nearly half of American consumers last year placed an order through a delivery app like UberEats, Postmates and DoorDash.

Murphy says delivery platforms may keep as much as 30% of the cost of an order. And those fees can hurt a restaurant’s bottom line.

“Restaurants are not making that kind of money making. Five to 10, to 15% in some cases, that’s all they’re making as a margin. So when you take twice that, you’re not making any money,” Murphy said.

Audrey Dingeman at Golden Dinosaurs knows it firsthand.

A few months back, she switched deliveries to Postmates. While customers still order directly on the restaurant’s website, there are problems she says they can’t control, such as rude drivers or cancelled orders.

“That’s a product loss on our end that we just have to eat. Like, we I mean, literally, we have to eat, you know,” she said.

Some larger chain restaurants offer a different take and are betting on delivery long-term. Local seafood eatery Frenchy’s has opened what’s known as a ghost kitchen — a location that only makes to-go orders.

Tampa-based Bloomin’ Brands, the parent company of Outback Steakhouse, credits delivery with its ability to survive the pandemic without laying off staff.

As a small business owner, Dingeman says she’s ambivalent about delivery, but she understands the appeal to chain restaurants and consumers.

“It okay, you know, I give them a solid C-plus,” she said with a laugh.

Murphy says it’s going to take a lot more work for restaurants and delivery apps will have to find a way to work together.

“Ultimately, it’s going to have to be the consumer that pays for it, because restaurants can’t give the food away for free and neither can the delivery services give their service away for free,” Murphy said.

Some local governments around the country, including Los Angeles, have passed caps on delivery fees. But in Florida, the market might have the last say. A bill to limit fees died in this year’s legislative session.

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The Ultimate Guide To Restaurant Online Ordering Systems – Jan 2019

Consumers appreciate speed and convenience. Today, a whopping 79% of Millennials order food online through one of various restaurant online ordering systems. In our interconnected world, restaurants must leverage online ordering to stay competitive. But, how do you set up an online ordering system? Should you work with 3rd party delivery partners? And what does all of this cost?

Today, we’re going to give you an insider’s look at restaurant online ordering systems. We discuss the pros and cons of setting up your own in-house ordering system, and we also give you the goods on food delivery apps saturating Facebook and YouTube ad space.

What You’ll Find In Our Guide To Restaurant Online Ordering Systems

In this guide, we provide answers to your most pressing questions, such as:

  • How do each of the 3rd party platforms operate?
  • How much do the various restaurant online ordering systems cost?
  • What geographical areas do these 3rd party platforms cover?
  • What are the pros & cons associated with working with each online ordering system?
  • How do SaaS online ordering systems for restaurants work?
  • How to choose the perfect combination of restaurant online ordering systems to work with and why?

If you’re trying to put together a solid portfolio of 3rd party partners for your restaurant brand, we suggest taking internal note of the following questions:

  • Does my portfolio of 3rd party online ordering partners provide my CUSTOMERS both convenience and value?
  • Am I doing my restaurant brand justice?
  • Are there any areas where I can consolidate platforms?
  • Is my brand working harder for less money and if YES, is there a foreseeable light at the end of the marketing tunnel?

Delivery Apps Are Hot, But How Do They Affect Your Bottom Line?

If the idea of making dinner reservations seems antiquated, you’re not alone. The online food delivery market is slated to grow from a $35 billion global industry to a $365 billion behemoth by 2030. Fancy Silicon Valley startups and venture capitalists love this growing market. Diners can simply download an app, make an order, and wait for delivery of their favorite meal. What’s not to like?

In 2016, 44% of U.S. customers used a food delivery service, and 3% of U.S. customers used a food delivery service DAILY. That’s a sizable client base. Today, these numbers are much higher (some studies suggest up to 86%). In fact, online ordering is the fastest growing food consumption vertical. The NRA predicts that 70% of customers will eat off-premise by 2020.

In a nutshell, online ordering has grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic over the past 3 years! Additionally, online ordering is set to overtake phone ordering, with customers spending 20% more on online orders.

So, delivery apps are all the rage, but are they good for restaurants?

Grubhub

After merging with Seamless and axing Eat24, Grubhub is now the leader (34.4% market share) of the pack. Originally, Grubhub was best known for digitized menus via its acquisition of AllMenus. But, after integrating Eat24 into its business and merging with Seamless, Grubhub is the undisputed king of the food delivery giants.

In total, Grubhub operates 6 brands: Seamless, AllMenus, LevelUp, Eat24, Tapingo, and MenuPages. As of Q3 2018, Grubhub is partnered with 95,000 restaurants and has 16.4 million active diners. This gives Grubhub the largest portfolio of restaurant partners and customers than any other food delivery platform.

Grubhub: Price Structure

Grubhub’s fee structure is a little tricky. In total, Grubhub charges all the following fees:

  1. Marketing Commission Fee: Grubhub’s commission fee is dependent upon the restaurant contract, and each restaurant may have a different fee. These fees range between 13 – 30% of the total order cost.
  2. Processing fee: Grubhub charges a processing fee of 3.05% + $0.30 per order.
  3. Delivery fee: If you use Grubhub to deliver your meals, you’ll be charged a 10% delivery commission fee.

According to Grubhub, new restaurants are on-boarded at a minimum fee of 17%. However, many also choose to join Grubhub at the Sponsored Level (20% +).

It’s important to note that the Marketing Commission Fee directly relates to how well Grubhub promotes your restaurants. Essentially, it’s a pay-to-play game. The higher the “commission package” that you choose, the higher your restaurant is going to appear in Grubhub’s search rankings.

According to Grubhub:

“The Marketing Commission level that you select will influence your restaurant’s exposure on our website. Restaurants that have a higher Marketing Commission will get a broader access to our diners.”

So, total commission fees can range from 23.05% + $0.30 for a restaurant using its own delivery drivers sans promotional services. On the other hand, a delivered meal that includes marketing exposure on Grubhub could cost a restaurant a whopping 43.05% + $0.30.

Grubhub: Areas of Operation

Grubhub has drivers almost anywhere in the United States. Since the platform has been around for such a long time, it covers a broad and ever-expanding list of markets. If your restaurant is in a decent-sized city, Grubhub probably services that area. Here’s a full list.

In total, Grubhub delivers to over 17,000 cities worldwide, with the bulk of deliveries in the United States.

Signing Up At Grubhub: How it Works

  1. When restaurants first sign up with Grubhub, they select a Marketing Commission level, which determines how well Grubhub will promote their product.
  2. Then, the restaurants supply Grubhub with their menus and list prices.
  3. Next, restaurants are added to Grubhub’s list of available restaurants and given exposure on Grubhub’s website. From here, anyone can order food from your restaurant through Grubhub’s app and website.

*Remember: If you don’t have any delivery drivers, Grubhub will happily deliver your food products to customers — for a 10% commission fee.

Signing up is a relatively pain-free process. It’s important to remember that working with any food delivery service introduces new logistical challenges. You have to figure out a way to get products to customers: hot, delicious, and well-presented.

Also, there’s a waiting period until your restaurant receives payment. This means that you’ll need a flawless cash management process in place to account for it.

Grubhub Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Operates in over 17,000 cities
  • Is the most influential delivery app in the world
  • Can help small restaurants gain new customers

Cons

  • Pay-to-win commission model
  • Commission fees can eat up your profits
  • Lack of commission transparency

Amazon For Restaurants

Amazon’s foray into the online delivery business is hardly surprising. Unquestionably, its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods now makes it the world’s third largest retailer. So, what’s Amazon’s main goal? To dominate the lucrative online delivery market, of course. To date, Amazon For Restaurants only caters to Amazon Prime customers. And, what a customer base: Amazon Prime members spend more than twice non-members every year. Not surprisingly, Amazon has staked its success on this valuable client base.

Amazon For Restaurants: Price Structure

There’s presently no upfront cost or time commitment for joining Amazon For Restaurants. Currently, there’s a rev-share in place. However, commission rates haven’t been made public, although they are said to approximate 30% of every order.

Amazon For Restaurants: Areas Of Operation

The platform operates in more than 25 major cities in the US, including New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston.

Signing Up At Amazon For Restaurants: How It Works

  1. Sign up is easy: fill in an online form, and an Amazon For Restaurants professional will contact you.
  2. Next, Amazon creates a restaurant page for you, complete with menu sections and professional shots of your restaurant’s dishes.
  3. Customers order from you through the Amazon Restaurants portal. You get instant alerts whenever orders are placed. Amazon takes care of deliveries, of course.

Amazon For Restaurants Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Operates in many major American cities
  • No upfront or set-up fees
  • Access to the lucrative Amazon Prime clientele base
  • Customers get real-time tracking of deliveries and status updates

Cons

  • Possibly high rev-share or commission costs
  • Amazon Prime members associate a good user experience with Amazon, not your restaurant

Uber Eats

Uber Eats is a restaurant delivery app that’s part of the Uber family of services. Currently, the platform is Grubhub’s biggest direct competitor and the strongest performing (growth-wise) Uber product on the market. The Uber Eats service utilizes Uber’s existing network to deliver food products to diners around the world.

Uber Eats is growing at a rapid pace; with its current growth pattern and aggressive marketing and acquisition campaigns, some analysts predict that Uber Eats may even overtake Grubhub in market reach.

Currently, the delivery market is fractured, but it’s also pretty well standardized. Commission fees tend to be high across-the-board and market practices are similar. Any major acquisitions between the top players would not be earth-shattering developments.

Uber Eats: Price Structure

Uber Eats has a more transparent commission system than Grubhub — though the commission rates vary. For a typical restaurant, Uber Eats charges a 30% commission fee on list price. This means that 30% of the price of food is going directly to Uber Eats. Fortunately, this commission fee automatically includes delivery as well as processing. It’s important to note that Uber Eats also allows restaurants to pay-to-win by giving them higher revenue-sharing.

Note: Uber Eats prohibits restaurants from increasing menu prices within Uber Eats.

Uber Eats: Areas of Operation

Uber Eats doesn’t operate in as many cities as Grubhub. In total, the platform is only operational in about 300 cities, though that number is growing rapidly.

Signing Up At Uber Eats: How it Works

  1. Similar to Grubhub, Uber Eats first requires restaurants to fill out a form, share menu information, and opt-in for marketing-based revenue-sharing.
  2. Next, restaurants will use the Uber Eats POS to track orders and drivers.
  3. Finally, drivers will pick up the orders and restaurants are paid at the end of the pay period.

*Remember: Uber Eats includes delivery services in their flat commission rate, which means that the ROI of using in-house delivery drivers will be low for restaurants that work with Uber Eats.

Uber Eats Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Flat rate commission fee includes delivery services.
  • Fast growth and plenty of users.
  • Probably the most aggressive marketers out of all the most popular delivery apps.

Cons

  • With 30% commission fees, restaurants will lose money on almost every order.
  • Uber Eats’ aggressive marketing may prevent customers from switching over to in-house ordering systems.

DoorDash

DoorDash is another courier service that delivers food to diners across the globe.

There’s big money backing DoorDash: in its last round of funding, DoorDash sat pretty at a $1.4 billion valuation. The differences between DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub are minimal, however. All of them charge commissions, offer food delivery, and leverage marketing/ distribution campaigns to draw in restaurateurs.

However, if we dive a little deeper, each of them offers unique value propositions. DoorDash contracts all of their drivers, which means that restaurants can actually dig into driver analytics. Also, you can track DoorDash drivers and see expected delivery times.

DoorDash: Price Structure

DoorDash has varying fees based on location, size, and other factors. All things considered, you can expect revenue-sharing to be somewhere between 20 – 25% per order. This includes delivery. Like Uber Eats and Grubhub, you can’t charge extra in the app to make up for the difference. So, every customer who uses DoorDash will end up costing you 20 – 25% extra, which may mean little-to-no net profit for your restaurant.

DoorDash: Areas of Operation

The platform operates in far fewer cities than both Grubhub and Uber Eats. As of this article (Jan 2018), DoorDash operates in 67 cities total.

Signing Up At DoorDash: How it Works

Similar to Uber Eats and Grubhub, DoorDash requires restaurants to sign forms, complete signup, and, finally, get listed on its website/app. Once your restaurant is on DoorDash, the following steps will take place once a customer decides to order a meal.

  1. The customer searches for a restaurant, chooses one, and places an order after viewing that restaurant’s menu.
  2. He pays for the product, and the restaurant is alerted that a customer has placed an order.
  3. The restaurant prepares the order and uses DoorDash’s proprietary software to track drivers.
  4. Meanwhile, the driver picks up the order and delivers the order to the customer.

DoorDash Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Lower rev-share than Uber Eats and Grubhub (for delivery)
  • Contracted drivers that restaurants can track
  • Somewhat equal marketing distribution for restaurants on the platform

Cons

  • Fewer users than Uber Eats or DoorDash
  • Only operates in 67 cities
  • Must use DoorDash delivery drivers (built into rev-share %)

Postmates

Unlike the previous entries on our list, Postmates delivers more than food. Whether people are looking for groceries, alcohol, or the hottest new restaurant, Postmates promises to deliver. The platform was founded in 2011 and delivers in over 250 cities. It undoubtedly has great reach; as of now, it has +25,000 partners (restaurants, grocery stores, liquor stores, etc.)

At its core, however, Postmates is another delivery logistics app.

Postmates: Price Structure

The Postmates commission fee is shrouded in mystery. Since the company operates on a contract-by-contract basis, there’s no way to dig deep into commission analytics (the company doesn’t post any).

According to most sources, 20 – 25% per order seems to be the norm. Some Reddit posts claim that the number is closer to 28%, but restaurants will be forced to negotiate their own commission fees.

Postmates: Areas of Operation

The platform operates in +250 cities in the US and Mexico.

Signing Up at Postmates: How it Works

Here are the steps involved in partnering with Postmates:

  1. Contact (or get contacted by) Postmates and negotiate a contract commission.
  2. Sign the contract.
  3. Restaurants are sent a tablet by Postmates that acts as an order tracking and payment system.
  4. The restaurant menu is uploaded to Postmates and orders placed via Postmates will come through on the tablet.
  5. A driver will pick up the order and deliver it to the customer.

Postmates Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Operates in tons of cities in the U.S. and Mexico
  • Includes delivery driver
  • Operates for more than restaurants

Cons

  • Non-transparent commission fee
  • 20 – 25% commission
Caviar Food Delivery Pricing Structure for Restaurants

Caviar (also known as TryCaviar)

Local restaurants drive the Caviar platform. Essentially, Caviar wants to go beyond delivery as a business. The company has a partnership with Square (a POS system), and it operates in a few select cities.

Caviar caters to both small restaurants and Michelin star restaurants in an attempt to focus on a more robust restaurant clientele.

Caviar: Price Structure

Information about Caviar’s pricing structure is a little sparse. Like many of the others on this list, Caviar works with restaurants on an individual basis. Commission fees lie somewhere between 25 – 30% per order.

However, that price includes some nice benefits. Caviar will send someone out to professionally shoot photos of each of your menu items.

Caviar: Areas of Operation

The platform currently services only 26 areas, giving it the smallest area of operation on this list.

Signing Up At Caviar: How it Works

  1. Restaurants register, sign the contract, and submit their menus.
  2. Next, Caviar will encourage them to use Square Point-of-Sale.
  3. Afterwards, Caviar will send someone out to take menu photos (if the restaurant needs it).
  4. Restaurants use the Caviar app to track orders and delivery driver information.
Delivery.com Pricing Structure For Restaurants

Delivery.com

When it comes to delivering, Delivery.com does it all. Restaurants, liquor stores, grocery stores, dry cleaning, and home goods are just some of the verticals that Delivery.com operates. Recently, Delivery.com also offers an open API for delivery services, which LevelUp, Foodme.io, WeWork, and other delivery-based apps utilize.

Delivery.com: Price Structure

Delivery.com charges 15% + 2.75% + $0.25 per card per order. On top of this, the company offers premium services, such as websites, professional photography, and more.

Again, Delivery.com utilizes the pay-to-win model by leveraging paid services to get ranking and marketing boosts within their system.

Delivery.com: Areas of Operation

Delivery.com operates in +36 cities.

Signing Up At Delivery.com: How it Works

  1. Restaurants sign up for Delivery.com as a merchant.
  2. Then, restaurants can choose to immediately start working with Delivery.com or use their premium services.
  3. Generally, restaurants will use the platform POS on any device to track and fulfill orders.

Delivery.com Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Charges one of the lowest commission rates
  • Offers some premium services that may help smaller restaurants
  • Delivers a variety of goods

Cons

  • The commission fee is still higher than the typical net profit for a restaurant
  • Only has 1 million users

Slice

Like Caviar, Slice (also known as Slicelife) has a unique value proposition: it only offers pizza. Also, Slice doesn’t actually offer delivery services. Instead, the company connects restaurants to pizza lovers across the world via an app (and website).

Slice: Price Structure

Slice also has a unique commission system. Instead of revenue-sharing based on a percentage of the sale, Slice charges restaurants $1.95 an order — regardless of the order size.

Slice: Areas of Operation

Slice currently operates in 40 states. To see a full list of cities, check here.

Signing Up At Slice: How it Works

  1. Pizzerias first sign up with Slice and upload their menus onto the Slice platform.
  2. Slice will add them to the app.
  3. Users make orders, but you’ll have to deliver those pizzas — not Slice.
  4. Slice takes a $1.95 cut from each order.

Slice is more of an app and marketing system than a delivery service. But, the app is competing in the same niche as the rest, so Slice is worth a mention — especially for pizzerias (which typically hire their own delivery drivers).

Solve Revenue Challenges With Your Own Online Ordering System

If you’re ever wondered why kryptonite hurts Superman, you’re not alone. The Internet is full of forums asking the same question. However, the answer is surprisingly simple. Kryptonite is a radioactive element that displaces the solar radiation powering our hero’s superhuman strength.

Back to delivery apps. Today, third-party delivery apps are big business. They’re easy to use, convenient, and fast. In short, they’re everything a modern consumer wants. All things considered, the restaurant industry may well see to-go sales pushing past the 10% mark by 2020. But, there’s a catch. Restaurants stand to lose revenue on every single order because of the standard 25-30% commission fees. Here’s a startling statistic: only 12% of restaurants think that the commission fees they’re charged are fair. Meanwhile, a whopping 82% think the fees are too high.

Additionally, since the average restaurant survives on a 2–7% profit margin, working with these apps seems like marketing sepukku.

What you need is marketing kryptonite: an in-house online delivery system tailored to your brand and capable of displacing the commission fees eating up your profits. If you need more convincing, industry research shows that digital orders generally account for 52% of deliveries. So, setting up your own online ordering system is definitely a smart marketing move. Here’s what no one tells you: You don’t need to be a marketing guru to expand your brand reach and market share. You just need to leverage the right tools to your advantage.

The Shattering Truth About Restaurant Online Ordering Systems 

The cost of creating an in-house portal that has the UX and robust features customers are already accustomed to is unsurprisingly cost prohibitive for restaurants. Developer salaries as well as cloud management costs would negate any profit margins quickly. Additionally, a dedicated tech staff would be needed for constant updates and feature requests, further burdening already strained budgets.

However, there’s a viable solution, even if a built-from-scratch system isn’t feasible.  Software-as-a-service (SaaS) ordering systems are fully functional ordering platforms that you can instantly integrate into your current business architecture.

But, which one should you use? This part is tricky because not all SaaS restaurant online ordering systems are created equal.

9Fold

While delivery apps certainly have their place in the digital delivery business, 9 Fold’s Software-as-a-Service platform helps restaurants stay competitive, agile, and adaptive to evolving consumer demands.

A branded in-house online ordering system for restaurants reduces order mix-ups and allows customization of prices, menus, and marketing campaigns. Restaurants reap increased revenues as a result.

The 9 Fold Value Proposition

What sets 9Fold apart? First, it’s a unique in-house ordering system that’s fast, responsive, and undeniably brand-conscious.

Restaurants using the 9Fold online ordering system report an average 25% customer conversion rate from their 3rd party partners. Your in-house delivery platform lets you control how you manage logistical challenges such as delivery times, which in turn highly impacts the customer experience.

The Price Structure at 9 Fold

9Fold costs $129/mo per location (+$100 for a first-time setup) + CC processing. There are no hidden marketing fees or commissions. Industry researchers highlight a particularly revealing statistic, however: 38% of restaurants say it’s difficult to break their dependence on third-party platforms.

For illustrative purposes, let’s say that 500 people ordered food from your restaurant during a one month period. Overall, each person ordered $35 worth of food. With Grubhub, you’d be paying (conservatively) about $3,500 for the month based on the current commission structure, not including processing fees. Using the 9Fold platform on the other hand would ring in at $129 for the month.

Contrary to belief among some restaurateurs, it’s important to note that many restaurants receive more orders through the use of a SaaS restaurant online ordering system. In fact, studies show that 81% of diners generally prefer to use a restaurant’s own website as opposed to a delivery platform like Uber Eats.

What 9Fold Offers

Here’s everything that the 9Fold online ordering system offers to restaurants.

  • Responsive menus: Your website’s menus will automatically adapt to any screen size.
  • Dedicated dashboard management: You can retrieve your orders, update your menus, and edit delivery routes in minutes. Additionally, for no additional cost, a dedicated response team will help you respond swiftly to shifts in customer demand.
  • Couponing96% of consumers use coupons! So, leveraging coupons is a great way to score loyalty points and draw in first-time diners. 9Fold provides restaurants a robust and easy-to-use couponing system.
  • 24/7 monitoring: This is more of a service than a software tool – 9 Fold’s human specialists dedicate time to tracking orders and restaurant menus.
  • Ease-of-Use: Why are Grubhub, Uber Eats, and Postmates restaurant online ordering system so popular? They’re unquestionably easy to use! However, 9 Fold’s online ordering system offers the same ease of navigation. The entire system is image-centric, fast (with one-click re-ordering), and responsive.
  • Branded ordering: 9 Fold builds your SaaS online ordering platform around your brand. So, what you get is an in-house ordering system that specifically aligns with your business objectives and feels like an extension of your storefront.
  • Order Management: Connect your online ordering platform to a desktop or Android tablet via the 9Fold order manager app and route it directly to a thermal printer. Optionally, you can connect to more than 20 of the most popular POS systems through 9 Fold’s partners Chowly and ItsaCheckmate.

Valuable Digital Marketing Tools 9Fold Offers

  • Email marketing:  Another key point: 9 Fold’s “out of the box” system allows you to leverage certain email marketing tools for free. The platform creates branded email campaigns for you based on consumer data, with no heavy lifting required on your end.
  • Social tools: Engage your customers with 9 Fold’s built-in ratings system and social tools.
  • Smart feed-back tool: Regardless of your restaurant’s value proposition, complaints are often unavoidable. With 9 Fold’s amazing tool, you get to correct negative feedback before it makes its way to social media.

9Fold Pros and Cons

Pros

  • No commission fees
  • No contracts / time commitments
  • Hands-on customer success and customer service teams at no extra cost
  • Built-in marketing solutions
  • Completely branded in-house restaurant online ordering system
  • Explicitly transparent pricing
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Efficient conversion of 3rd party customers
  • Image-centric menus for customers
  • Order history within customer accounts for easy “re-order” functionality
  • Works with restaurant POS systems via Chowly and ItsaCheckmate and a wide range of devices (including thermal printers)

Cons

  • Requires that you have a brand already in place
  • To achieve an effective conversion rate from third party apps, you must be willing to initially dedicate time/effort working side-by-side with 9 Fold’s customer success team prior to launch
  • Can take an initial 3-7 days for design team to create a platform that matches your brand

Who 9Fold Is Best Suited For

  • Restaurants looking for built-in marketing tools and services
  • Establishments with 2-20 locations, where a branded platform is critical

Other SaaS Options

As has been noted, 9Fold isn’t the only SaaS restaurant online ordering system on the market. Below, we discuss today’s most popular SaaS portals.

ChowNow

ChowNow is an established SaaS online ordering system. Currently, ChowNow is one of the biggest (in terms of volume) SaaS players on the market, boasting thousands of restaurants across the US.

The Price Structure At ChowNow

  • $150/ month on a monthly plan, with a $399 set-up fee per location.
  • $119/ month on a yearly plan, with a $199 set-up fee per location.
  • $99/ month on a two-year plan, with a $199 set-up fee per location.

Pros

  • Works with any restaurant website built as an i-frame drop-in
  • Branded mobile apps (potentially discontinued or with additional fee)
  • Online ordering button for Facebook and Instagram
  • Pricing is good relative to 3rd party commission portals

Cons

  • Few couponing/promo tools on the admin dashboard
  • Customer service not a top priority
  • All marketing tools carry additional costs
  • Menu templates promote the ChowNow brand rather than the restaurant brand
  • No food images available on menus
  • No order history for customers

Who ChowNow Is Best Suited For

  • Restaurants looking for quick and easy implementation of an in-house online portal
  • Establishments with 1-10 locations, where personal branding is not a top priority

OLO

Another big player in the digital platform space, OLO has specifically built its online portal to cater to larger chain restaurants. OLO is also a delivery-enabled platform. Its Dispatch service connects you to nationwide delivery couriers, such as Postmates and DoorDash. All things considered, you’ll still be responsible for additional fees for Postmates or DoorDash delivery services. Currently, OLO only works with 250 restaurant brands, which may seem inconsequential; however, many brands have 100+ locations. In terms of pricing structure, OLO does not reveal its pricing online, as it likely varies by way of volume discounts and negotiated contracts.

Pros

  • Branded menus
  • Deep integration with POS systems, loyalty programs, and payment providers.
  • Upsell and group ordering features
  • Social media integration
  • Offers delivery services through Postmates and DoorDash

Cons

  • Must have +40 locations to participate
  • Hybrid and possibly complicated pricing structure

Who OLO Is Best Suited For

  • Restaurants looking for custom integration of all business operations
  • Establishments with a minimum of 40 locations

RestoLabs

This online platform is based in India and was founded in 2012.

The Price Structure At RestoLabs

  • $45/ month basic account, which includes mobile web ordering, real-time order notifications, coupon builders, order management dashboard, and rewards programs.
  • $85/ month premium account, which includes all Basic features as well as driver management, and printer/ fax order notifications.
  • Pricing for enterprise accounts depends on customizable options. The Enterprise level, however, does come with POS integration.

Pros

  • Multilingual support for diverse customer base
  • Responsive design platform
  • Overall, an inexpensive short-term solution

Cons

  • Very basic features
  • No known U.S based support system
  • Not as user-friendly for customers who are familiar with the functionality of the Uber Eats / Grubhub interfaces

Who RestoLabs Is Best Suited For

  • Restaurants looking for an inexpensive way to gauge the ROI of an in-house online portal
  • One-location dining establishments

MenuDrive

All in all, MenuDrive is an inexpensive option. Founded in 2009, the platform offers excellent, branded in-house delivery system options. But, unlike the rest of the SaaS providers on this list, MenuDrive presently offers no social integration tools.

The Price Structure At MenuDrive

  • $99/ month on the monthly plan, with a $299 menu set-up fee
  • $90/ month on the yearly plan, with a $99 menu set-up fee. The yearly plan is less expensive. However, the fees must be paid up-front.

Pros

  • Inexpensive option for branded online platforms
  • Branded menus
  • Inclusive store management platform, offering menu builders, custom delivery zones, and multiple order types (dine-in, delivery, curb-side, and pick-up).
  • Analytics-based platform, which provides insight on customer data.
  • POS integration
  • Automated alerts to prevent missed orders.

Cons

  • No social integration tools
  • Overall, less user-friendly for customers who are familiar with the functionality of the Uber Eats / Grubhub interfaces

Who MenuDrive Is Best Suited For

  • Restaurants looking for some operational integrations, such as custom delivery zones
  • Dining establishments that explicitly prioritize simplicity over functionality or portal layout
  • Restaurants with 1-3 locations

Spend Less, Achieve More: Leveraging Your Own Online Ordering System To Increase Revenues

Delivery options are critical for restaurants that want to remain competitive in an increasingly digital market. In fact, many restaurants are reinventing how they handle delivery or take-out orders. Some have staked out specific areas just for digital pick-up orders, while others have launched digital-only eateries.

By working with Software-as-a-Service brands, restaurants can leverage branded online delivery systems to provide their customers an unparalleled user experience.

The Conclusion: Portfolios aren’t just for Wall Street 

Many restaurants utilize both delivery apps and SaaS simultaneously. They tap into the wide customer base on third-party platforms and then leverage their own in-house delivery systems to convert these new customers. Consider organizing your online ordering ecosystem as if it’s a financial portfolio. Ensure stability by making it fairly diverse and goal-oriented in nature.

How To Choose The Right Third-Party Platforms For Your Online Ordering System Portfolio

1. It’s tempting to focus on platforms that offer the cheapest commissions. However, you’d be better served choosing platforms that offer optimal functionality and access to a broad customer base. Start by choosing all available platforms that service your geographical area. Next, isolate those that provide you the largest / most active user-base and the best usability features.

Many of these “active user” statistics are either available online (Google “how many active users on grubhub”) OR you can simply ask a rep from the partner company and they will likely be proud of their numbers and willing to share and it might open up the conversation to more stats you didn’t think of asking about. 

2. From this final list, choose 2 – 3 commission-based third party platforms.

3. Now that you have a rough online ordering system portfolio in place, you’re better positioned to negotiate for more favorable terms. Since you won’t be using every 3rd party platform under the sun (some restaurants use 10+!), you can potentially leverage your “exclusivity” to your advantage. Remember, all of these 3rd parties have a common goal – to get users to order YOUR food through THEIR platform.

Items you may be able to negotiate once you consolidate to 2-3:

a.  A more competitive commission structure.

b.  A more favorable listing placement on your chosen search platforms.

Conclusion: If you can consolidate down to 1-2 of the biggest players, you’ll be in even better shape as you’ll have more power regarding “a” and “b” from above. Many consumers that order online have accounts with multiple systems and will simply switch to the one that services you if they want to order your food.

We’ve had many restaurant partners test this hypothesis by simply shutting down one platform while keeping the other open during peak hours and the results were always the same: the “open” platform orders rose in nearly the identical amount to those orders that were “lost” during the shutdown of the other.  Afraid you’ll be losing out on potential new customers? You’ll have to make some tough decisions, no one said it’d be easy. 

Next Steps: How To Choose The Right In-House Restaurant Online Ordering System

1. Above all, choose an in-house portal that allows you to convert a meaningful portion of new customers from your portfolio of 3rd party partners. A Bain & Company study with Chick-fil-A shows that a five percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%. So, pick an in-house platform that offers leading-edge tools to increase customer engagement and retention.

2. Correspondingly, combine a seamless in-house ordering system with efforts to improve operational efficiency. Keeping good employees happy and productive should be a priority, especially in the fast-paced world of restaurant hiring. Some areas that will make life easier in-house are order management consolidation via our partners Chowly & ItsaCheckmate (nationwide) and 3rd party delivery fulfillment Relay (NYC area).

3. If you’re curious about whether 9 Fold’s value proposition is right for you, please reach out for a free consultation. Our team would be honored to help you put together the most attractive online ordering portfolio for your brand!

Finally, if you have any experience with delivery apps or SaaS online delivery systems, we’d love to hear it. Comment or share your thoughts below.

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Just Eat Takeaway faces pressure from top shareholders

Just eat Takeaway.com Is one of Europe’s largest food delivery companies with a market value of $ 17.8 billion. However, one shareholder believes that Grubhub owners should be more valuable.

“JET’s terribly flawed communications have become the worst performing online food delivery stock in the last two years, despite its strong operational track record,” Catlock Capital said on Tuesday. The company holds a 4.2% stake in Just Eat Takeout.

Amsterdam-listed JET shares have fallen by about 22% this year, their German rival. Delivery hero It is down about 2%.

Catlock Capital said JET’s earnings multiples are weaker than its competitors.said Door dashSales are expected to be on par with JET this year, more than four times more valuable than in Europe.

JET was founded last year as a result of the merger of Just Eat in the UK and Takeaway.com, a Dutch operator. The integrated online take-out app then acquired US-based Grubhub, defeating rival bids. Uber..

Catlock Capital said JET itself is vulnerable to acquisitions from competitors and will not be a favorable price.

Captain Alex, founder and managing partner of Catlock Capital, said:

“But since the IPO, JET has been unable to improve communication with investors and markets, is highly undervalued and remains vulnerable to takeover bids well below its intrinsic value.”

The investment company had a problem with JET CEO Jitse Groen sparring with Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi on Twitter. Groen has accused Khosrowshahi of trying to “push down” its share price by announcing the expansion of its Uber’s Eats delivery business in JET’s main market, Berlin.

According to Catlock Capital, JET needs to seek a “strategic combination” with its rivals to strengthen its performance.

Shares rose more than 2% on Tuesday, despite most European markets declining after Catlock Capital’s comments were announced. Greenwich, a Connecticut-based investment company, is JET’s fifth-largest shareholder, according to Refinitiv data.

“Just Eat Takeaway.com has regular dialogue with all shareholders and we take all their views very seriously,” a JET spokeswoman told CNBC.

“We will hold Capital Markets Day in October to provide the market with visibility into how we will take advantage of the exciting and long-term growth opportunities we have throughout our business. . “

Just Eat Takeaway faces pressure from top shareholders

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Philly’s Delivery Guys is a start-up ready to compete with food delivery giants such as Grubhub, UberEats. Here’s how it will do it.

Richard Hernández bought Franklinville’s Sabor Rico Bakery (formerly known as A&Y) in December 2019, three months before the pandemic hit. He didn’t even get the chance to change the store’s sign before he found himself struggling to keep his small business open.

While managing the store, the Puerto Rican business owner supervised the quality of his pastries, pan sobao, and hefty Caribbean breakfasts of green plantains with pork, chicken, and ham. He also took orders to customers’ doorsteps throughout Philadelphia when restaurants could only offer pickup or delivery services.

With no access to PPP loans and three of his five employees on furlough, Hernández, 44, said it all felt like an uphill battle. He found himself relying on delivery services from Grubhub. Because of the 30% Grubhub commission on each order, he increased his prices for some meals and offered more modest combo meals. He wasn’t happy.

“Why would I have to change the Hispanic morning tradition of flavorful breads and tasty breakfasts to keep this running?” he asked. “I’ve sacrificed my personal finances and so much [family] time just to keep my customer satisfied.”

In March, Hernández learned about Víctor Tejada and his company, Delivery Guys, a technology-based food delivery service start-up based in Philadelphia aimed at supporting the needs of restaurants and small businesses.

Tejada, 35, founded Delivery Guys based on his own experience. The graphics and software designer had been delivering food during most of the pandemic, after he left Comcast to launch his first start-up, which failed last year.

As he delivered meals with Grubhub for large franchises and smaller restaurants, he learned that the logistics and programming systems of giant delivery service companies weren’t sensitive to the realities — such as one-employee sites and limited access to capital — of small business owners, especially those run by marginalized entrepreneurs.

“Many customers and business owners needed to reach out to each other or speak with the drivers about changes in the orders, a delay, or complaints, and that was very difficult to address in real time,” Tejada said. “And our business owners kept fussing about the service, being expensive and late to their customers.”1:41Jesenia De Moya CorreaA look at how the Delivery Guys app works.

So, he brainstormed his idea with local restaurateurs to center the food delivery service company around their needs. Then, he incorporated the Delivery Guys App, a system he developed and programmed for iOS and Android smart phones.

The company now has about 50 drivers working with eight food preparers and convenience stores owned by Dominican, Puerto Rican, American, Nigerian, and Vietnamese entrepreneurs in West, North, and Northeast Philly. More than 50% of the drivers are women who mostly work part-time.

In addition to the white and orange mobile app, the five-month-old company provides options tailored to the needs of customers wanting food delivered to their homes or to where they work, such as bodegas, beauty salons, mechanic shops, and others in the Philadelphia area. These include:

  • A bilingual customer service call center located in Tejada’s native Dominican Republic, where customers who need technology and language assistance can order meals without using the app. Business owners can get assistance calling customers back to adjust their orders or to reach an assigned driver, if needed.
  • A Pay-in-Person option for customers who prefer to pay in cash or don’t have access to bank accounts or anelectronic payment system.
  • A 15% commission on business owners and a $2.99 service fee on customers per order, a competitive rate compared to DoorDash’s 30% commission to restaurateurs. (Customer fees for DoorDash vary depending on time of the day and mileage.)

But Tejada said the “secret sauce” for his food delivery service isn’t in the technology. It’s in the care that the drivers provide customers and business owners alike.

“Making sure that our drivers are part of the community and invested in learning about our business community is what makes this commercial relationship a big, extended family,” Tejada said.

Food delivery is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States. According to Business of Apps, market revenue for these services has increased 204% in the past five years, up to $26.5 billion in 2020. The website mentioned the notable increase has been fueled by platform-to-customer services, such as DoorDash and Uber Eats. COVID-19 measures to shelter-in-place have also contributed to the industry’s growth.

In 2020, 111 million users used food delivery apps in the U.S. That’s a 68% increase, up from 66 million, in the last five years. DoorDash had 45% of the market share, with Uber Eats at second with 22%. According toSecond Measure,DoorDash and its subsidiaries earned 56% of the U.S. market share last month. and led sales in the Philadelphia metro area with 54% of the market share, followed by Grubhub with 30%.

Delivery Guys doesn’t make 1,000 deliveries a day, Tejada said, which means it doesn’t have 1% of the market share yet. Keny Núñez, 43, used to work with DoorDash. He said he switched to Delivery Guys for the $8 pay per order and cash tips.

For Katty Corporán, 32, it’s the relationships she’s built with the business owners and the company’s service representatives that make the difference.

“It feels like a collegial group, with people ready to help you get to a location and business owners who care for you as if they were your employers,” she said.

Tejada is launching a software update Tuesday that will connect the Delivery Guys App to food delivery services and companies in cities around the country, including Indianapolis, Orlando, San Diego, St. Louis, Albany, N.Y. and Salem, Ore.

The company is also hiring more drivers as it expands to Wilmington the first week in August. Next up, Tejada looks to invest in collective cooking spaces, to support Caribbean Latino cooks and chefs in the area.

In the meantime, Hernández with Sabor Rico Bakery doesn’t regret his decision.

“That connection and closeness we have with the drivers is guaranteeing that our food gets delivered with respect and love. What else can we ask for?”

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Same-day delivery apps need more than speed to survive post-pandemic

We have entered a whole new era of e-commerce centered on speed and convenience. Business leaders are being forced to prioritize delivery capabilities and push for more accelerated delivery services.

“Fast/reliable delivery” was the most important online shopping attribute among the more than 8,500 consumers queried for PwC’s June 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey, making it clear that delivery services will only become more crucial across the e-commerce landscape.

Now that consumers have grown accustomed to same-day (and same-hour) delivery service models, customer expectations for delivery options will only increase.

In fact, according to a recent report from the mobile app intelligence platform SensorTower, the top food delivery apps saw continued growth in January and February 2021, with installs up 14% year over year. And yet, despite climbing user growth, DoorDash, Uber Eats and GrubHub remain unprofitable. So how can business leaders design rapid delivery models that meet consumer expectations — and still make money?

If your delivery service results in a poor customer experience, you’ll be less likely to win customer loyalty just because you offer faster delivery.

The challenge: Delivery apps need more than speed to drive profitability

To remain competitive, delivery apps are rethinking their services and broadening their offerings.

“Amazon powers next-day delivery,” Raj Beri, Uber’s global head of grocery and new verticals, said in May. “We’re going to power next-hour commerce.”

But speeding up the delivery process won’t necessarily drive revenue. More importantly, if your delivery service results in a poor customer experience, you’ll be less likely to win customer loyalty just because you offer faster delivery.

The primary challenge faced by delivery apps, or any e-commerce company looking to add delivery services as part of its offerings, is building a foundation that enables not only speed and convenience for the customer, but one that takes into account all aspects of the customer experience. For example, when delivering food, the business responsible for the delivery must make sure the food is handled safely and remain free of any contaminants. The temperature — whether hot or cold — must be maintained throughout the delivery process and the order itself must be correct.

The solution: Same-day delivery relies on sophisticated technology platforms

The “Uberization” of everything, combined with dramatically elevated consumer expectations, will take much more than a delivery app and fleet of drivers for businesses to be profitable. To follow through on the promise of same-day delivery services, a number of things need to happen without any missteps between when an order is placed and when it shows up at the customer’s door. The more complex the product being delivered, the more difficult the delivery process becomes.

To enable same-day delivery services while also reaching profitability, a delivery app must take into account the technology needed to meet customer expectations. It involves much more than simply designing an app and growing user numbers. A truly successful same-day delivery model that provides an exceptional customer experience relies on a sophisticated software platform that can simultaneously manage various aspects of the customer journey, all while making it appear seamless from the customer’s point of view.

Profitable delivery services are built on automated systems powered by artificial intelligence systems and robotics. The technology must come first, before the app and before user growth. Any other delivery business model is putting the cart before the horse.

Domino’s Pizza is a brand that has perfected the delivery process and vastly improved the overall customer experience by making technology core to their business model. The key moment came when the brand defined itself as an e-commerce company that sells pizza. It committed to data applications and implemented a robotics technology platform that enabled electronic delivery systems that added speed and efficiency to the delivery process. In April, Domino’s began rolling out a robot car delivery service to select customers in Houston via Nuro.

GrubHub is also taking steps to integrate robotic capabilities into its delivery process. According to recent reports, the company announced it would be adding self-driving units that deploy drone-like robots to deliver food to college students. The program, which will roll out on a limited number of U.S. college campuses this fall, aims to reduce delivery times and, hopefully, costs.

This focus on technology is crucial in the world of delivery apps, or for any businesses forced to compete in the newly emerging category of next-hour commerce. The key to building a successful, profitable business model is to invest in technology platforms that can connect all components of the customer journey, from opening an app and clicking on a product to purchasing the product and scheduling the delivery, and beyond.

Same-day delivery: Where to go from here

In a world where everyone wants to open an app on their phone and have whatever it is they need to be delivered within an hour, it’s tempting for business leaders to focus on the delivery app itself, whether they are building their own or partnering with another company. But focusing on the app is a shortsighted view of same-day delivery models.

Instead, business leaders must use a wide-angle lens and consider every single aspect of their customer journey: How do customers engage with their business? How do customers search for and find the products they offer? What does it take to complete an order and what conditions must be met before the order can be delivered? Also, what happens after the order to ensure it went smoothly and to the customer’s satisfaction?

Some businesses are finding success partnering with delivery apps, but this comes with the risk of putting your brand’s reputation in the hands of another company that acts as a frontline employee with customers. Other companies are adding delivery service options to their current e-commerce model, relying on third-party software that can be plugged into an existing technology stack. Unfortunately, this comes with limitations and is not viable for regulated businesses that include multiple components.

The only way to ensure a seamless customer experience on top of same-day delivery services is to build a proprietary software platform that puts the technology at the heart of your business, which allows you to automate key processes, adding speed and convenience to your delivery model. It also makes it possible to integrate robotic systems that can expedite orders, include artificial intelligence protocols that can accelerate business growth, and scale your delivery model as your business expands.

Thriving in the new era of e-commerce

“Next-hour delivery” is a catchy tagline that is sure to gain traction among consumers, but whether it will help drive profitability remains to be seen. As the CEO of a firm that has built a profitable business model centered on same-day delivery services, I’m skeptical that the promise of next-hour delivery will drive more revenue if the technology powering the delivery systems lacks automation, artificial intelligence and robotics.

It’s true that businesses will be forced to compete on same-day delivery. But another truth that has emerged since the pandemic is that this new era of e-commerce comes with heightened customer expectations that won’t be met on speed alone. Consumer satisfaction hinges on more than the amount of time it takes to move an order from an app to the customer’s door.

To succeed in the delivery service market, business leaders must ask themselves a number of questions: Which parts of their business are needed to complete a same-day delivery order? Is the ordering process intuitive? Can the order and delivery be monitored by the customer? Is the order correct when it arrives? Does it meet the customer’s expectations?

And, most importantly, is their business built on a technology platform that can support the entire customer journey and delivery model, from product discovery and purchase to same-day delivery and beyond? The businesses that answer yes to these questions are the ones I expect to thrive in the post-pandemic world.

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Uber Eats driver shortage leads to widespread food waste and staff abuse

Restaurateur Jason Chang is caught between a tech giant and dissatisfied customers and his staff are copping abuse as a result.

The owner of Calia at Melbourne Emporium says “pandemic rage” is exacerbated by online platforms and causing hungry customers to vent their frustrations while oblivious to the human impact.

In recent months, a driver shortage on food delivery platform Uber Eats means orders are often not collected at the restaurant and meals are left to go cold.

During Melbourne’s current lockdown, Chang says the number of angry phone calls and threats of one-star Google reviews has increased when food isn’t delivered in the time period expected by the customer.

Many restaurant operators used social media on Friday night to express their anger at Uber Eats not collecting multiple orders, and their distress at customers not receiving food that was ready but not being picked up. 

Venues left with thousands of dollars of cancelled orders included Chicken Central, Off the Boat Pizzeria and Broadway Fish & Chips in Reservoir, Preston’s Noi Pizzeria, Ollie’s Pizza Parlour in Brunswick, Surrey Hills’ BurgerBurger, Prefisso 3088 in Greensborough, West Melbourne taqueria Hello José and many more.

Uber Eats messaged drivers and restaurants to say there had been a technical outage, however they continued to accept orders they were unable to dispatch. Mum’s Burger Kitchen in Boronia had 26 meals wasted.

“I was on hold for three hours to the Uber Eats hotline while dealing with angry customers complaining at the other end,” says Mum’s Burger Kitchen owner Esther Sun. “This has been an issue for years. Our restaurant’s reputation has been so damaged.”

Chang, who also operates Calia Grill in Chadstone, doesn’t make a profit from Uber Eats, but says he can’t afford not to be on the dominant ordering platform, especially when his restaurants are closed.

“All I’m doing is covering my staff and food costs so I can keep people employed, Uber Eats takes 30 per cent plus GST. I’m not keeping any money in my pocket.”

Restaurants using the platform are not provided with a customer’s contact details when an order is placed. “It’s our food, but they are Uber customers,” says Chang. “We only find out where the order is supposed to go if the customer calls us.

Lately, those customers have been lashing out more often. “They abuse our staff, they create fake Google accounts and spam us with bad reviews,” says Chang, who is also a City of Melbourne councillor.

“I understand that customers are upset because they didn’t get their dinner but we have fulfilled our part of the transaction,” he says.

“We will always try to help them but we wish they would be patient and calm. Some set up 20 fake accounts in one night. Sometimes they leave staff members’ names on reviews. I would call it cyber-bullying. Customers are too entitled nowadays.”

The impact on Chang’s staff is considerable. “Their mental health is affected, there’s a huge psychological impact, you wouldn’t believe the amount of tears I’ve seen during the pandemic,” he says.

Uber Eats pays the restaurant for orders that aren’t picked up but Chang says it’s not good enough. “It’s a billion-dollar tech firm – they could manage orders and customer expectations better. If they don’t have drivers, don’t accept the order.”

According to a spokesperson for Uber Eats, “When a restaurant accepts an order, our system connects the restaurant with the nearest available delivery person. We only accept orders if there are delivery people available to deliver in that area.

“We continue to speak with our restaurant partners on a daily basis about how we can support them through this challenging time and improve both the restaurant and eater experience.”

But Chang says there is no recourse when things go awry. “There’s no relationship manager, there’s no one to contact.”

Alper Turgut drives for Uber Eats, its rival DoorDash, and courier platforms Yello and Sherpa. He has noticed an increase in the number of orders that aren’t picked up from restaurants.

“When I go to a business, I usually see dozens of packs waiting and the owners and staff look at me desperately, asking if I am going to come back,” he says.

Most apps only allow drivers to take two orders at once but some game the system to pick up more.

“There are a lot of dodgy drivers that use different applications or maybe their partner’s account at the same time,” says Turgut. “They come to a business and gather four or five different orders. That means cold food but businesses don’t have another option.”

Sometimes the restaurants take it out on him. “They can be rude,” he says. “Sometimes they treat you like a thing, a drone, not even looking at you.”

Turgut identifies the reasons for the driver shortage: “Usually, it’s international students doing this work. A lot of them have found jobs in their fields now, like my engineer friend who came and did deliveries but now he found a job.

“[But] there are no new students coming in. Also, some drivers might not understand that food delivery is essential work – they think they aren’t allowed to do it in lockdown and are afraid to get fined.”

Sally Calabro owns pizza restaurants in Richmond, Elwood and Hampton. “Our orders are being collected and then drivers do seven or eight orders in the vicinity,” she says.

Customers blame the restaurant if the food doesn’t arrive quickly in optimum condition. “The kids in the restaurant get abused because their food is late or something’s been dropped,” says Calabro.

“One of my managers rang me in tears because a customer abused her and said he’s coming tomorrow to ask for his money back. There doesn’t seem to be a consumer connection that they are using a third party.

“If you order a vegetarian pizza and we send you a meat-lover’s delight, yes, that’s on us, but if we have cooked your food and given it to the driver, we have done our bit. It’s hard enough at the moment without that carry on.”

And what about all the meals left uncollected in restaurants? “I asked my staff about that the other night,” says Chang. “We had $1000 worth of food sitting there. My staff walked the streets giving it to the homeless. I was so proud of them. They are amazing.”

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Uber to buy a company that makes software to manage shipping for $2.25 billion

  • Uber Freight, the rideshare company’s trucking division, said Thursday it’s acquiring Transplace in a deal that values the transportation logistics company at $2.25 billion.
  • Uber Freight will acquire Transplace from TPG Capital, the private equity platform of alternative asset firm TPG.
  • The deal consists of up to $750 million in common stock of Uber and the remainder in cash.

Uber Freight, the rideshare company’s trucking division, said Thursday it’s acquiring shipping software company Transplace in a deal that values the transportation logistics company at $2.25 billion.

Uber shares were slightly positive Thursday morning.

Uber Freight will acquire Transplace from TPG Capital, the private equity platform of alternative asset firm TPG that acquired Transplace in 2017. The deal consists of of up to $750 million in common stock of Uber and the remainder in cash.

It’s a rare move for Uber, which has spent the last year shedding its profit-eating self-driving unit and flying taxi segment. Instead, Uber has been choosing to pour billions into strengthening its Uber Eats segment, acquiring alcohol delivery company Drizly and food delivery service Postmates.

Uber Freight chief Lior Ron said in an interview on CNBC’s “TechCheck” that the deal is a continuation of the company’s long-term vision, which is to bring digital transformation to the industry. Transplace makes software that helps companies manage their supply chains to ship goods. The company claims it operates one of the largest software platforms for supply chain management and logistics in the world.

Uber Freight, a separate division of Uber, offers similar software tools to manage supply chains and shipping. Uber Freight says it has over 70,000 carriers on its network that can ship items for companies.

Uber Freight booked $301 million in revenue in the first quarter of this year, up 51% year over year. Despite the growth, Uber Freight contributes just a small slice of Uber’s overall revenue, the bulk of which comes from rides and food delivery.

The deal is expected to help Uber’s trucking division reach profitability. The company said it could help the segment break even on an adjusted EBITDA basis by the end of 2022.

The deal is still subject to regulatory approval.

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New local restaurant delivery service, Loco Tampa Bay, provides an alternative to Uber Eats

Loco Tampa Bay is a restaurant delivery service hoping to connect residents with restaurants they love. High commissions from the likes of Uber Eats often put a slight hurt on small business owners, this new service hopes to give some power back to our favorite local restaurants.

Here’s the official announcement from LoCo Tampa Bay:

“Hot off the grill, Loco Tampa Bay (owned by local independent restaurants) is all about the community. Every time you order through the app, you’re supporting local – your favorite restaurants & the community. More $ goes to the restaurant & more $ stays in your wallet. We’re easing ourself in the water this week with a handful of restaurants. Next week more and so on.”

Myriad restaurants have already joined the app, including on of my favorite gluten-free and vegan spots Love Food Central.

Delivery charges are about $5, and service charges do apply. If this app helps restaurant provide delivery service, while providing well paying jobs for drivers across the region, then I am all for it.

Loco operates as a co-op so they are restaurant-owned. 

Where most national services charge about 30% to restaurants, LoCo charges just 15%.

You can view current restaurants on the website, and restaurants interested in joining the service can also inquire online.

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Costco pilots same-day delivery with Uber

Dive Brief:

  • Costco is piloting same-day grocery delivery through Uber from 25 Texas stores in Dallas, Austin and Houston, according to an announcement from the delivery firm.
  • The deal marks Uber’s first test run with a U.S. food wholesaler. In the coming weeks, seven more Costco stores will begin offering delivery through the Uber and Uber Eats apps.
  • The pilot adds another third-party provider to Costco’s same-day delivery lineup as Uber continues to integrate major grocers onto its platform.

Dive Insight:

Same-day delivery hasn’t been a priority in the past for Costco, which prefers to dazzle members with its in-store shopping experience. But with digital sales booming during the pandemic, the club retailer is weighing different ways to expand speedy online fulfillment.

Costco reported a 450% increase in same-day grocery delivery sales through Instacart during the second financial quarter, which the club retailer reported in March. In late May, Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said same-day online sales had tapered off from their peak during the height of the pandemic, but were “still huge relative to pre-pandemic,” according to an earnings call transcript. 

Costco currently offers a two-day shipping service for dry groceries in addition to its nationwide same-day service through Instacart. It’s also piloting pickup via Instacart at three club stores in New Mexico.

For Uber, the partnership with Costco adds another major company to the lineup of retailers listed under its popular main app and Uber Eats app. Earlier this week, Uber announced delivery service from 1,200 Albertsons stores, bringing its footprint to more than 400 U.S. cities and towns. 

Costco’s willingness to work with multiple delivery apps indicates it’s looking to broaden its reach, particularly with young consumers. The club retailer currently has more than 100 million members globally.

“Costco is a beloved brand across the United States that has become synonymous with quality and affordability,” Uber stated in its announcement Wednesday. “Their commitment to sourcing quality products to fuel households of all sizes — and businesses — make them an ideal partner for Uber’s burgeoning grocery delivery efforts.”

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