The eating-out market is going through tremendous change, writes Elit Rowland. At the recent Him! Future of Convenience conference, shopper expert Ed Sibley said that the UK is turning into a ‘one-swipe generation’, with consumers wanting everything at the swipe of a screen. This is very true – it is a trend and not just in retail.
The same is happening in foodservice. Diners expect their favourite restaurant dishes delivered to their doorstep in a swipe. However, even that is starting to become unnecessary, following the launch of Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated delivery service.
Many forward-thinking operators have responded by getting their businesses online. Some are working with large food delivery giants such as Just Eat, UberEats and Deliveroo, which typically receive commissions of up to 30%, but sometimes more.
However, are these operators, which make up a vast proportion of many wholesalers’ customers, getting a competitive advantage by doing this?
Many businesses are only as successful as their customers, and wholesale is no exception. If your restaurants and takeaway shoppers are losing margin, it won’t be long until you see the impact.
Working with Just Eat and Uber Eats has helped award-winning restaurant Olley’s Fish Experience in Herne Hill, London, to increase sales by 20% a month. But owner Harry Niazi says he spends more than that in commission: “With Just Eat, I pay 25% plus an extra £300 a month for credit card transactions.”
Meanwhile, The Vintage Fish restaurant and takeaway in Lee, London, chooses not to work with Just Eat or Hungry House at all, following the ongoing negative press coverage concerning food hygiene: the Daily Mirror claimed that certain restaurants using these services were infested with rats, cockroaches and faeces – accusations that both companies have disputed.
Instead, The Vintage Fish’s owner Huseyin Ozdemir has created his own online ordering site and has been working hard to promote it. “We never have any queues – customers order directly from us and pop in for collection.”
The business, which has two London sites, is thriving, and Ozdemir is about to open
FOODit customer Taste of Cyprus, in Cheshunt, Hert-fordshire, used to be on the major takeaway websites.
Owner Chris Troullous says: “They put your restaurant alongside lots of others, which makes it hard to stand out. You may not be remembered or ordered from again.”
While the major takeaway websites are popular, they do not help diners to get to know the restaurant or to foster loyalty.
Senior product manager for restaurant website builder FOODit, Paul Sharp, notes: “The costs of working with these services continues to climb, while the benefits are shrinking. These are worrying trends for UK takeaways. What’s more, it can be hard for operators to leave if their customers are using the services all the time.”
By setting up his own website, Troullous has put himself back in the driving seat, he believes: “Now it is my business, my website and my customers,” he says.
This year, demand for restaurant deliveries is expected to continue to boom, as diners still appear to want the ultimate in convenience. If an increasing number of outlets embrace more empowering forms of technology that lead to boosted sales, then wholesalers stand to gain.
6 tips for your restaurant customers
FOODit’s Sharp offers your restaurant and takeaway customers six reasons to have their own website
1. Increase sales – telephone ordering is fast-becoming history. Diners want to order online and on the go. The restaurants that respond will survive and thrive.
2. Save time – taking orders online frees up staff to spend less time on the phone and more time preparing delicious food, plus, they will never miss an order again.
3. Be visible – using large takeaway sites may seem attractive, but with many restaurants doing the same, it is becoming harder for independents to stand out.
4. Own your data – customer details are the gold-mine of your business. Large takeaway sites do not offer this vital information. An independent website would.
5. Get social – having a website alone is not enough to attract diners. Work with platforms that offer social media support and help to rank first on search engines.
6. Go mobile – restaurant deliveries placed by mobile devices are at an all-time high. If there’s just one tip you remember – make it to be mobile-friendly.