Delivery services like Deliveroo and foodora have had to tackle three major concerns from hospitality businesses before getting them to sign on the dotted line.
In the old days, delivery was a dirty word. You had the choice between greasy, overladen pizza and lukewarm pad thai, neither of which would arrive within the hour and when it did eventually turn up, the pubescent teenage driver would have the customer service skills of, well, a pubescent teenager.
Well, times are changing and the quality of food being delivered to hungry Australians has seriously improved. Online takeaway platform, Menulog, has partnered with Zoom2u, which means its Sydney restaurants can now offer a home delivery service. Sherpa, an Australian on-demand service delivery start-up has expanded its operations to offer more takeaway food deliveries via partnerships with DeliveryHero.com.au and Doughnut Time, and Melbourne has announced it’ll soon become the third non-US city to welcome UberEATS, a home food delivery service launched by the popular ride-sharing app.
And then there are companies like Deliveroo, which came to Australia late last year after having received over $240 million in funding from the same organisations which have invested in Facebook and AirBnB.
Levi Aron, Deliveroo Australia’s country manager, says the company’s strategy is to educate both consumers and the hospitality sector on how the delivery experience can be an enjoyable and valuable one.
But in order to do this, delivery services have had to tackle some serious concerns from the hospitality industry.
By offering a home delivery service, would you be giving with one hand, and taking away with the other? Will the diners that have actually made the effort to come to your venue (and are probably paying more, per head) suffer because your chefs are too busy packaging up deliveries?
Aron insists this isn’t the case. “The reason why our investors have backed us so heavily in a marketplace where people are questioning investment into business is because they see something that is quite unique, and that boils down to the technology that we use. So when we speak to our restaurants, we actually sit with them and spend quite a lot of time with them, understanding what their prep time is … and then we set that into our system.
“Our technology then gives the restaurant owner flexibility to change that prep time on the fly, so if they get a bus load of tourists come into their restaurant and they’re suddenly really busy, they can go into the system and change the prep time straight away, which instantly updates the customer,” he told Hospitality.
Similarly, when the kitchen runs out of a certain ingredient or a dish is no longer available, the chef can update the system so that those items are no longer visible to the customer.
A key concern for restaurant operators is, of course, that food won’t reach the customer the same way that it left the kitchen, and as a result the business’ reputation will suffer.
In late 2015 another food delivery service, Suppertime, joined the foodora group, which operates in over 10 countries and has partnered with a 700-strong network of restaurant in Sydney and Melbourne including Chur Burger, Mamak, Hannoi Hannah, 39 Pizzeria and Popolo.
According to Toon Gyssels, CEO of foodora, the brand works closely with chefs to ensure that the quality of the food at the time of delivery is exactly the same as if it were being enjoyed on the restaurant floor.
“Before we start delivering, we make sure the packaging is right, he says. “We even do test runs. Before we launched with Gelato Messina, they were very concerned about the quality and wanted to make sure the ice cream didn’t arrive melted, so we did tens of test runs, driving around to see how far the delivery area could be.
“Some dishes don’t transport well, so we don’t do delivery for them. We deliver the items that the customer will have the best experience with … We make sure that after the food is picked up, it takes less than 10 minutes to be delivered. That’s what we aim for. With that time, you get the food in excellent shape.”
3. Impact on patrons
According to Gyssels, the second most common concern from chefs and restaurateurs, behind quality, is that a delivery service will actually discourage customers from dining at the restaurant.
“They are concerned about it taking customers out of the restaurant. [But] it’s not the same customer. If you want to go to a restaurant and eat there, you’re in a different mindset to when you just want to eat at home, or you’re at work and you want to order delivery.”
Aron agrees. “We’re not looking at cannibalising the market by pulling people away from restaurants. We believe that people enjoy going to restaurants and they make a decision with their partner or their friends to either eat out that night or to stay at home. We don’t believe that our service takes people away from restaurants.”
In fact, both foodora and Deliveroo say delivery services can actually increase the number of times consumers are engaging with restaurants.
“It gives people an ability to recognise the restaurant’s brand, having eaten there, and say ‘Well, I’m still going to go to your restaurant but now I want to get that great food delivered to my home or office as well,” Aron says.
“So if the touchpoint between the restaurant and the customer was maybe twice a month or three times a month, we now may be able to increase that to five times a month.”
Gyssels agrees, adding that foodora’s clients actually see an increase in patronage once they start offering home delivery.
“So if restaurants are afraid, we’ll do a trial and what actually happens is that not only do the deliveries increase, but also the in-restaurant visits will increase. Customers discover restaurants via our platform and then go there to eat,” Gyssels says.
It’s in the companies’ best interest to see their member restaurants flourish, and in order to do this, they work closely with the chefs and operators to ensure the menu has items suitable for delivery, while also assisting with their marketing activities.
“We work with the restaurant to see what we should be posting on social, to set up campaigns for them and to help them based on the online behaviour of customers. When a customer comes to the website, we can analyse, very granularly, what he looks at, and if he puts something in the basket does he continue to the next step or doesn’t he? Based on that we can help the restaurant to optimise it, for example by adding some drinks or by removing some items from the online menu,” Gyssels says.
“We partner with the restaurants to make sure that they’re successful, because ultimately that’s what will make us successful.”