Food delivery apps are all the rage today. Unfortunately, there are two very significant downsides to using food delivery apps. First, the delivery platform takes a substantial fee from restaurants—whether through a subscription or percentage of orders. The second is that restaurants have little control over the quality of delivery services. For example, restaurants can’t gauge the professionalism of delivery drivers, promptness of deliveries, or the quality of food storage during transport. So, while restaurants need to continue their relationship with food delivery apps in order to stay relevant to consumers, they also need solutions to convert customers into loyal restaurant patrons. Below, we outline the history of online food deliveries and discuss actionable ways to win customers back from Grubhub and Uber Eats.
A Brief History Of Online Food Deliveries
The online food delivery industry began when World Wide Waiter (Waiter.com) made its debut in 1995. Today, Waiter.com has expanded from offering delivery services for 60 Silicon Valley restaurants to over 1,300 restaurants nationwide. The next online ordering service to take the world by storm was Seamless, which made its appearance in 1999. Both Waiter.com and Seamless promised to exponentially increase customer satisfaction.
For the most part, they have succeeded. Customers love the convenience of using smartphone apps to order their favorite restaurant meals. They particularly appreciate that the food is delivered right to their doorsteps. Meanwhile, restaurants have an increased ability to reach customers who have never heard of their brick-and-mortar locations.
Actionable Ways To Win Customers Back From Grubhub And Uber Eats
If you’re looking for actionable solutions, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we provide a behind the scenes look on how your restaurant can win the high-stakes delivery game.
1. Offer Smart Online Promotions
Basically, provide a strong incentive to encourage repeat ordering through your online platform. The best incentive? A lucrative promotion that promises big rewards to customers. Not surprisingly, restaurant enthusiasm for third-party platforms is cooling.
You can win the online delivery marathon by offering promotions based off the commissions that third-party platforms generally charge. This might be $10 off of a first order or 30% off all orders during the first month using your restaurant’s ordering platform. Offering free food through BOGO deals is a great way to convince your current diners to order directly from you.
These promotions should be emailed to your current customer base, posted on your restaurant’s website, and advertised on social media. Also, encouraging customers to share their good luck on social media is a great way to get their friends interested in your restaurant.
After combing through the data at 9Fold, we’ve found that our partner restaurants who were most successful in converting customers were those that (generally) followed the following as part of their promotion strategy
A. Offer an incentive that lasts for period of time no less than 60 days which can be re-used by customers multiple times over that period.
Why? Customers are creatures of habit, the more you enable them to order directly via your platform, the higher chances you will build a “direct” customer for life through building that habit to order from your in-house online ordering system.
B. Offer an incentive that is easy to understand and exclusive to your platform. (Think NO DELIVERY FEE!)
Why? Customers are thrifty and more patient than you think. We’ve found that customer behavior in the digital world drives users to painstakingly find what they perceive to be the best deal available. Think about the travel industry, the data is more robust and available in travel as this industry turned digital much quicker than the restaurant industry, yet it has a lot of commonalities. Customers will hop from platform to platform in the depths of google search to get what they want until they make a final purchase decision. (more to this point below in #2).
2. Leverage Jujitsu Marketing To Your Advantage
Make no mistake about it. Your customers love the variety provided by Grubhub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash. In fact, they may have discovered your restaurant through these third-party apps. Your customers also come with their own unique sets of expectations and core beliefs about these delivery giants. Trying to convince them otherwise is like swimming against the tide on a stormy day. Instead, use jujitsu marketing to your advantage.
First, let’s review the main reason restaurants like third-party delivery platforms: the unlimited potential to reach new diners. While restaurants can’t direct consumers to their own ordering platforms on the food delivery app, they can use existing customer behavior to increase conversions organically. For example, restaurants can include BOGO or discount offers in their delivery and to-go packaging. This sales funnel is an effective way to convert food delivery app users into customers.
Tip: It can be difficult to determine if your marketing materials are making it to the intended recipients via takeout bags, try instead with specially made promotional takeout containers or branded stickers on a few containers to ensure marketing quality control.
3. Use The Right Ads To Target Mobile App Users
Digital marketing isn’t just a fad; it’s here to stay. In fact, businesses are combining digital marketing with AI technologies to revolutionize the way they deliver on customer initiatives. Harnessing the power of digital marketing isn’t just a trendy business decision, it’s the most viable way to increase your brand’s visibility today.
Mobile app targeting is a great way to reach your target audience. This digital marketing tool allows brands to target social media users, whether they’re on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Essentially, you can get your ads right in front of any user who relies on a food delivery app. As users scroll through their social feeds, information about your restaurant and online ordering platform will automatically show up.
Tip: These ads should be specifically designed to hit home with food delivery app users. Make sure your ads are filled with gorgeous photos of mouthwatering food. Additionally, offer promo codes for discounted food delivery, and highlight your platform’s usability. If your restaurant has an app, use gamification. Restaurant versions of popular augmented reality games can increase brand engagement and loyalty.
4. Highlight Convenient Delivery Options On Your Platform
Third-party food delivery platforms market incessantly to both consumers and restaurants. They encourage brands to post links to their apps on restaurant websites and social platforms. While this benefits customers, it also discourages them from ordering through your platform. Additionally, customers may find the ordering process confusing, if your website offers several online ordering options.
The best way to guide customers to your platform is to remove all other options for ordering—or at least remove their visibility to customers. Streamline your website design to make it easy for potential customers to order using your platform. This means that a direct route to your ordering platform should be the first thing they see. Additionally, every other landing page should guide customers back to your platform. In short, strategic website design is crucial in highlighting where you want your customers to go.
5. Make Integrity Part Of Your Business Model
Honesty and transparency seems to be in short supply today. For their part, customers appreciate being leveled with. In fact, directness can even turn regular customers into promoters—as long as it’s delivered respectfully.
So, tell your customers the straight truth: while you understand their loyalty to third-party ordering platforms, you also want to stay in business. Next, let them know why you want to stay economically solvent. Beyond the obvious, highlight the advantages of supporting your restaurant. For example, does your restaurant use locally sourced ingredients from organic or sustainable farms? Are you committed to the “clean food” revolution? Perhaps, you offer wide selections for customers with allergies. Either way, tell the truth. You’ll earn the respect and business of your customers.
6. If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
It’s important to tread carefully, as the point isn’t to bash food delivery apps. These apps allow diners to connect with restaurants that they may not have otherwise considered. Third party platforms also open up the market for smaller, non-franchised restaurants to highlight their menu and special take on conventional dishes. Additionally, if a restaurant openly and harshly criticizes these apps, they run the risk of a backlash. This backlash likely won’t be public. It could involve third party platforms blacklisting the restaurant or making it less visible to app users.
To avoid this no-win situation, consider working in tandem with the third party platforms you use. First, write a strong blog post, create an engaging newsletter, or post a high-quality video. Make sure it’s mobile optimized and an SEO winner with a good URL, fast page loading speed, and relevant content. Ensure that your content acknowledges the benefits of food delivery apps. Tell readers that they should absolutely use Grubhub to discover new, great restaurants in their area or in a city they’re visiting. Next, tell them how they can order directly from your restaurant, once they’ve discovered your delicious offerings. Most importantly, tell them why they should order directly from you. You may be surprised by the outcome. When consumers get the right information, they act on it.
7. Use A Strong Online Ordering Platform
While the above points focus on convincing diners to order through your restaurant’s online platform, this point is dedicated to showing them why they should continue to use your platform.
Specifically, emphasize your platform’s ease of use and the availability of comprehensive support services for customers.
To outperform third-party food delivery platforms, your restaurant ordering platform should offer:
- Beautiful imagery: Customers should be able to find exclusive pictures of your restaurant’s prime selections on your website.
- Easy re-orders: Customers should be able to view their past orders and easily re-order that exact combination of dishes.
- Dynamic promotions: Promotions and coupons on your platform should be dynamic in nature. When customers have surpassed a specific order amount, ordered certain promotional items, or completed specific actions, your platform should recognize this automatically and reward customers accordingly.
- Convenient ways to provide feedback: Your online ordering platform should make it easy for customers to share their thoughts and opinions.
- Opportunity to subscribe to email offers: Your platform should enable automated email campaigns that can be based off any number of factors, including order history and searches.
What 9Fold Can Do For You
Running a restaurant is serious business. While you’re open to these ideas, you know that incorporating them won’t be a walk in the park. That said, 9Fold is an online ordering system that offers all of the services you need to win customers back from Grubhub and Uber Eats. Our dynamic, responsive platform is mobile friendly and automatically adapts to the dimensions of any screen, whether they’re smart phones, tablets, or laptops. We also offer extensive restaurant management capabilities, which include a robust dashboard to receive orders, edit menus, and get a clear picture of how your platform’s performance compares to other food delivery app competitors. At its core, 9Fold provides you with needed leverage to leapfrog ahead of your competitors. For more information, contact us today, and see why our customers love us.