Professional Comment

How Restaurant Operators Should React To Amazon’s Latest Move

By Nick Hucker, CEO, Preoday

Amazon is working its way into multiple industries and dominating every field it enters. Recently it announced that it will be leading a $575 million funding round for Deliveroo. As these two industry giants come together, it is creating waves in the already busy hospitality industry. In addition to Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats are already entrenched aggregators in the market, with a love/hate relationship with customers and operators alike.

Many operators appreciate how the aggregators bring new customers and help promote them beyond existing customers. However, for many the high commissions charged by aggregators are crippling their margins and the fact that aggregators create a barrier to their customers, is a real challenge.

We believe there is a way for independent chains to get out from the grip of third-party aggregators and remain in control of their own digital identity. If restaurants can offer their own digital ordering service, they can reap the benefits of the insight they’ll gain from customers ordering through this channel, without sacrificing margin. However, it can be challenging to know how to move customers from an established channel to a new one.

We’ve worked with a number of restaurants that have taken the step away from industry giants and seen customer numbers and profits rise using their own system. Here are some of the steps they’ve taken to achieve that success.

Build a buzz

To encourage the switch from aggregator orders to direct orders via your system, we recommend that you look to build buzz early – think about how mobile phone companies start to tease their new releases before they officially launch.

To do this you can go digital with a social media campaign or use traditional, eye-catching techniques, like sandwich boards with catchy slogans and window posters. Either way, in the week or two before launch make sure to send a teaser announcement to known customers via email, and start to let people that come in-store know about it.

Launch offers and ongoing incentives

If you can, kick off with a strong offer. We have seen clients successfully move customers from an aggregator platform in this way – offering 10%, 20%, even 30% off a first order. It’s important to then continue giving incentives to customers. When there are similarities between two technologies, the benefits of one over another may not be immediately obvious to your customers. Make it clear in your marketing what they will get from using your own-brand platform. For example, through your app they can have access to exclusive offers and discounts, loyalty rewards and they can be the first to receive notification of menu changes and specials.

Use the data

Once your customer has opted in to marketing and has used the platform, send them personalised messages via push notifications. You can also use your dashboard data to see who orders what food most, for example, and create offers based specifically on a dish. Through the data from the platform you will be able to tell when a regular customer hasn’t ordered in a while. In these instances you can send them push notifications and incentivise their return.

Staff training – and visibility

It is very important that your staff know about the new platform. Encourage them to use it so they know how to answer questions and ask them to mention it in conversations, placing it at the front of the customer’s mind.

Look to make your new platform visible in-store as well as on social platforms. Put posters up and place business cards in with takeaway bags; it’s important that you make promotion of your new service very clear. If you don’t want customers ordering from you via a specific aggregator, remove all references to it from your branding and replace it with your new service.

Consumers have short memories and until their loyalty has been won, they can be fickle. When making a move to escape industry giants, don’t just hit them with a one day marketing launch and expect that to do the trick. Promotion should continue until you are satisfied that the migration has happened and that customers coming back to you for more.