Customers nowadays are spoiled for choice when it comes to all the ways they can get food to their doors without ever having to make a phone call. This is good, because, for the millennial and Gen-Z generations, there’s nothing worse than having to use the phone for its intended purpose.
Third-party ordering services are growing in numbers every year, and they are here to stay and make the lives of your customers much easier. The sheer number of choices and user-friendly features that online marketplaces like Glovo, Wolt, and others provide to customers should be enough to prompt you to use these services to grow your restaurant or your virtual food brand.
But does that mean that you should forgo your internal efforts and ditch having a direct ordering system? Definitely not, and in fact, you should use both third-party platforms and an in-house solution to take your restaurant forward in a highly competitive industry.
Today, we are going to talk about how to do it right and outline some key advantages and challenges that each approach brings to the table.
Advantages and Challenges of Online Marketplaces
There are many reasons why online marketplaces are so popular nowadays, and why more and more of these platforms are popping up at every corner. For the customer, the reasons for using a third-party delivery service are quite clear:
- User-friendly designs and easy navigation.
- High-quality images and descriptions.
- High level of trust and data security.
- Additional filters, browsing history, and repeat orders.
- A decent level of personalization depends on the platform.
- And more.
All of this creates a positive user experience, which is essential for the growth and long-term success of any restaurant. But why should you have a presence on these platforms as a part of your omnichannel strategy?
While user experience should be a key driver for you, keep in mind that a third-party delivery service comes with a few important perks:
- You have instant access to an optimized marketplace infrastructure.
- You can set up your online storefront, menu, and your entire brand quickly.
- You get a robust third-party delivery system that’s ready to go as soon as you sign up.
- Your customers are already using the most popular platforms and are waiting for you to join up.
- Often, people will discover your restaurant on these platforms through recommendations, reviews, promotions, and more.
Challenges to Overcome:
Both a direct ordering system and an online marketplace come with their inherent advantages, but also some challenges you need to overcome in order to optimize performance. For the most part, though, it’s more about dealing with these challenges and learning to grow despite them, because it’s important that you use online marketplaces in today’s saturated restaurant industry.
The key challenges you need to keep in mind include:
- Lack of user data. What happens on an online marketplace stays there, and restaurants have very limited insight into the user data that the platform collects.
- Third-party delivery platforms tend to take a decent cut of the sales for themselves, meaning that you’re earning less per order than you would through a direct order.
- The more marketplaces you use, the more complex your entire operation becomes.
While there’s not much you can do about the first two challenges, you can actually simplify your operation using Bitebell. This is our all-in-one system that allows you to automatically sync up orders from third-party platforms with your POS, manage your menu in one place, and gather invaluable insights about your restaurant’s performance on popular marketplaces.
With Bitebell, you can capitalize on automation and eliminate manual order typing, and thus saving time for you and your staff. This allows you to run a more efficient and effective operation no matter how many platforms you’re using.
Advantages and Challenges of Direct Ordering
Having your own, direct ordering system will always be an important feature regardless of how many marketplaces are out there. Even though customers are increasingly using these platforms because of how convenient they are, they also want the ability to place an order directly with your restaurant via phone, direct messaging, or even your branded app.
While direct ordering and marketing your restaurant delivery online is very much about ensuring customer satisfaction, for you it also brings certain perks that you can’t get with online marketplaces, such as:
- The possibility to earn a bit more per order. While it is important to have a presence on popular marketplaces, they do take a percentage of every sale, meaning that you may be able to earn more through direct ordering.
- You gain better control over your pricing and promotions, allowing you greater flexibility to serve the needs of your target demographic.
- You have the ability to collect all the customer data for yourself and use those insights to improve your marketing and many other processes.
- Speaking of marketing, you have the option to allocate all your marketing resources towards growing your own brand and its online channels.
Consider a Hybrid Approach
An important point to emphasize here is that you can also use a hybrid model. A hybrid model means that you are listed on an online marketplace, but you don’t have to do in-house ordering at all. You could, for example, list your restaurant on a marketplace and then outsource deliveries to an external courier service.
Because you would be lowering your marketplace fees this way, you would be able to offset some of the delivery costs and even share some of the costs with your customers in certain cases.
Challenges to Overcome:
Much like online marketplaces, direct ordering comes with its own set of obstacles, but the good thing is that you have the ability to overcome them, because you are in the driver’s seat.
The key challenges here are:
- You have to build your own ordering channel and online presence with the resources you have, whereas an online marketplace makes it easy with its internal resources.
- A complete lack of infrastructure. It’s up to you to build your restaurant’s delivery infrastructure on your own and organize all the user data into a manageable system.
- The biggest challenge, however, is customer acquisition. An online marketplace like Glovo or Wolt not only has a big enough customer base, but they are constantly bringing in new customers through advertising, referrals and reviews, word-of-mouth, and other tactics. This means that marketplaces will always bring more customers to your restaurant, but it also means that you need to invest in acquiring customers yourself through an in-house delivery system, in order to capitalize on both.
This is another great way to leverage Bitebell to build a sustainable infrastructure and a direct ordering system that thrives on automation, valuable customer data, and many other important features. Bitebell also allows you to manage your online reputation through its easy-to-use ticketing system and a centralized hub where you can monitor and respond to all customer reviews, regardless of where they’re posted.
However, the key advantage that Bitebell provides here is the ability for your restaurant to have its own online storefront for direct orders. When your direct orders come through, the tool automatically assigns them to the nearest available couriers, meaning that you don’t even need to have in-house couriers. This simplifies your delivery process and in the long run, minimizes your payroll expenses.
Make Sure to Capitalize on Both
In the competitive restaurant industry, you can only grow your brand and achieve long-term success if you take all that’s given to you. That means making good use of both the direct ordering system and the various marketplaces because they complete each other and allow you to build a stable and profitable business model.
The key is to quickly build a presence on all relevant channels and adopt an omnichannel approach to running your restaurant, so don’t hesitate to invest time and effort into these growth strategies.