Authored by: Shannon Chirone (Vice President – B2C Product Marketing)
Third-party delivery apps might have been your lifeboat during COVID, but now they’re a sinking ship for a lot of restaurant owners. Restaurants can save themselves from profit-eating commissions of up to 30% by setting up their own first-party delivery systems.
This post is your guide to doing just that. We’re also going to cover:
- Why setting up your own delivery platform doesn’t mean you need to delete Uber Eats
- How to kickstart your online ordering platform without taking out a second mortgage
- The secrets to converting your customers from third-party apps to your first-party delivery system
Ready to reclaim your slice of the profits? Then keep scrolling.
How to Get Customers to Use Your First-Party Food Delivery App
Third-party apps pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into app design and user interface. The end result? A high-quality order experience that customers love.
If your first-party ordering platform doesn’t rival that experience, customers simply aren’t going to use it.
Here are three things you need to do to keep customers on your system:
- User-friendly. User-first. If you’re going up against DoorDash, you’ll need to compete with their customer experience and service. Building a platform that’s well-designed and intuitive is key. The checkout experience, payment process, and overall feel need to be user-friendly and on brand—or your restaurant may end up standing out for the wrong reasons.
- Get your channels in sync. Omnichannel is king. Nowadays, customers expect your brand to have a website, mobile app, and social media presence all working in unison. Third-party apps provide ongoing messaging and support no matter how or where the customer is ordering. You need to do the same.
- Flaunt it. When you control the ordering platform, you have total control over your brand and positioning. This offers you a chance to show off the goods: your food! Adding high-quality photos can boost sales by up to 30%. You can also work in customer testimonials and reviews—powerful tools for shaping the perception of your restaurant as well as a customer’s dining decision.
If customers like what they see, chances are they’ll order from your restaurant directly. Now that you know how important giving your customers a well-designed choice is, let’s dive into the logistics of setting up your delivery system.
A Delivery System That Works for You and Your Customers
Running your own delivery system keeps the customer interaction in your hands. This is significant because studies show that 35% of customers who use third-party delivery services have experienced a problem—and more than half of them ended up blaming: the restaurant.
Here’s how reclaim control from third-party apps and implement your own food delivery system:
- Give customers the complete delivery experience. Third-party apps have set the standards sky-high. Your delivery solution needs to be able to track drivers in real time, manage coupons and loyalty programs, and seamlessly integrate with the rest of your options. (Sounds daunting? We can help.)
- Adapt your approach. Not ready to ditch third-party apps entirely? Try DoorDash Drive. It still counts as a first-party order; they don’t list you on any third-party apps. All they do is fulfill the delivery and charge a flat rate of about 5-10%, which is a lot better than 30%. Plus, it can be a lifesaver when your regular drivers call in sick.
- Customize a delivery system that works for you. At the end of the day, a combined approach can be optimal. Some customers just prefer third-party ordering. You don’t have to lose those customers entirely, but it’s best not to be reliant on them for all of your delivery business.
You don’t have to delete your presence on these apps. Just try to shift your core customers toward your app—which is exactly what we’re covering next.
Here’s How to Convince Customers to Give Your First-Party App a Chance
If you want to compete with third-party delivery apps, you need to put yourself out there. You’re going to need a marketing strategy.
Here are five things you can do right now to get the word out:
- Convert third-party customers. Once you build your in-house online ordering and delivery processes, start promoting it. Create 10% discount coupons for orders placed through your first-party app (don’t worry—you’ll still make 20% more than third-party orders) and drop them in the delivery bags going out to third-party customers.
- Spread the word on social media. The demand for takeout and delivery options is only growing, so why not promote your in-house delivery through paid social media advertising? Don’t forget to offer customers a discount that’s only redeemable on your app.
- Loyalty programs. Quality loyalty programs where customers can earn points or rewards with each delivery are known for being a hugely effective incentive. This is why a number of third-party apps use them—and the strategy works just as well for first-party delivery. Look into the types of loyalty programs that third-party apps are offering and see if you can provide something similar—or better—to foster customer loyalty.
- Limited offerings. One strategy to consider is cutting down menu options on third-party apps. If your customers’ favorites are only available through your website, that’s a powerful motivator to change.
- Don’t forget to say thanks. A striking 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a great experience, so why not thank them for using your first-party delivery service by including a handwritten note? It’s a great opportunity to remind them what a difference their choice makes to local businesses like yours.
Your customers aren’t mind readers. If they’re in the habit of ordering from Uber Eats, it’s on you to tell them what else is out there. The tips we mentioned are a great place to start.
Take Back Your Delivery Profits with a First-Party Delivery System
Your customers want to order from you—but they won’t navigate a hastily thrown together website to do so. Unless your delivery solution is up to par, they’re going to order from third-party apps.
But matching the giants of delivery fulfillment doesn’t require an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
At HungerRush, we’ve been helping restaurant owners implement affordable first-party solutions since 2003. Take the next step and discover how HungerRush can help you implement and grow your first-party delivery service.