Delivery is a hot topic for restaurants today. At first, it seemed like every quick-serve jumped aboard the delivery train, perhaps because it was easy and fast to set up the service with aggregators like DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats, and because these providers seemed to open new markets for brands. While new guest acquisitions are enticing, restaurants today are waking up with a delivery hangover and the realization that there are brand-side solutions that need to be in place to maximize the developing marketplace.
Delivery comes with a set of challenges. Brands have to juggle how much to charge for delivery on the platform, and whether it is profitable. They have to manage how ordering pages are configured and do their best to reflect brand standards and experiences. They have to re-envision the optimal flow of their menu on digital platforms, and tailor online systems to make customizations and personalization easier and more effective.
And, perhaps most importantly of all, brands need to learn how to collect and utilize all of the data generated; without effective collection and reuse of delivery and online order data, brands miss out on the priceless opportunity to collect and reuse real customer data for future efforts, especially on a platform as “sticky” as delivery. There is real world intelligence in understanding bounce rates, push notification engagement, menu interaction data and the repackaging of all the information into remarketing efforts.
There are benefits to tapping partners like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Postmates, such as increased brand awareness with new customers that may not have previously heard of a restaurant. But for many quick-serves, third-party delivery services come with their own set of challenges. The fact is, brand-controlled digital ordering and delivery programs have emerged in recent years as a best practice for quick-service restaurant using their digital programs most effectively.
Delivery, because of its convenience tends to create a ton of loyalty from the guest. And, it creates a lot of data. Owning that data is central not only to the short-term goal of delivering food today, but to the long-term goal of building loyalty, repeat orders, incremental revenue and new products, markets and campaigns.
Delivery may drive loyalty, but it’s important for the brand to get it right the first time. When a customer visits a branded ordering application, there is no competition. The menu is laid out in such a way to maximize value and ease of use, and essentially all of the elements of a good customer experience can be controlled for (short of last mile delivery). But on third-party aggregator apps, the restaurant brand sits right next to all the other nearby competitors in the category. And that can spell lost business; customers will switch between the average of 2.3 third-party delivery services on their phone after just one experience.
It’s just easier to build loyalty in a brand-controlled environment. For the consumers who are already loyal to a brand, it is remarkably valuable for the quick-serves to own, collect, and use the data that online and app-driven delivery orders generate. Customers expect that the brands they choose understand exactly how to approach them, and data is how we are meeting those expectations.
Data across quick-service restaurant vendors will show: today’s customer expects that brands provide convenience totally agnostic of their preferred method of ordering. Delivery should be a part of a unified order flow across the online, in-store or in-app environments, for dine-in, pick-up, kiosk order or delivery and it all must account for loyalty rewards capture. Restaurants that give guests the ability to order across any of these channels with ease and convenience, from reordering to dish customization to push notifications and beyond—the ones whose deliveries are a natural extension of the brand—are the same brands winning in the long-term.
Those winning brands get it: data can be used to understand customer behavior and intent. Sending the right cadence of marketing to a consumer can motivate action. Whether a guest orders once each week or once each quarter, targeted, personalized marketing efforts can be deployed thanks to customer data to move each group to a more frequent buying schedule. To gain an additional visit each week from one guest and an additional visit each quarter from the other is, in both cases, a 50 percent increase in each individual’s incremental spend.
The fact is, third-party delivery has a place when looking for discovery. However, for as much as it has popularized delivery service in recent years, it simply can’t deliver that kind of targeted control of the consumer to the quick-service restaurant brand. Delivery has been proven to be sticky for restaurant brands. People appreciate the convenience, and the comfort of the favorite dishes delivered to their doorstep. For restaurants who wisely opt to take control of their delivery programs, the opportunity exists to pay only once to acquire a customer, simply by owning the data and using it to make business easy for the customer today and in the future.