The Effects of Leaving Costly Food Portals

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Ben Macari is the owner of the well-known takeaway chain Macari’s which has 6 stores in Dublin. In June 2016, feeling the squeeze of high fees, Ben decided to leave the food portal that he had been listed on for years.
He had had enough of paying upwards of 17% to feature on the app that he himself, and other Irish takeaway owners like him, had helped promote over the last 5 years with stickers in their shop front windows. The more of his own customers that he sent towards the food portal the more power the food portal had and the more they charged him, systematically increasing their fees year on year. He realised that he no longer owned his customers, the food portal did.
Ben reached out to Flipdish to make him his own app with his own branding and within a couple of days, he could start receiving online orders directly.
Since then Ben has increased his overall revenue, decreased his costs and most of all, reconnected with his most loyal customers.
“Flipdish are the best partner for your takeaway. They have helped me to increase total orders and also migrate customers away from costly third-party portals. Their loyalty campaigns and push notifications help to increase customer order frequency and they are always quick to respond to any menu changes or other requests. I wouldn’t go with anyone else!” – Ben Macari
Once Macari’s had their own online ordering platform in place, they took the plunge and left the costly food portal.
Below we explore what happened, and attempt to work out what factors were at play.

LET’S LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED.

Macari’s Ballymun Plaza

The green arrow marks the time that the store left the costly food portal.

Macari’s Glasnevin Avenue

It appears that the increase in sales is not a once off and is clearly attributable.
We kindly got permission from the owner of another store who also left the costly food portal around the same period.

The Little Chip

There was a significant increase in direct sales.

WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?

Before seeing this data, it was unknown if Macari’s customers who ordered using the costly food portal would continue to use the food portal and find another restaurant to order from, or if they’d stay loyal and continue to order from Macari’s.

AdWords

Customers often seek out a restaurant’s website by typing the name of the restaurant into Google. Google capitalise on this by showing 4 ads that look very similar to organic results (search results that are not paid for) – see purple section in the image below. On mobile devices, it is normal for a full screen of paid results before reaching any organic results. This means that even if you have the best website in the world, it will not appear on the first screen of Google search results.
Food portals take advantage of this by paying for ads that target users who are searching for a specific restaurant. And the user, who was attempting to get to the restaurant’s website will often be lead to the costly food portal’s website and end up ordering from there.
If your restaurant is not listed on the food portal then the food portal cannot display ads that lead customers to their platform and allow them to place orders with your restaurant through the food portal’s platform.

SEO

Alongside paid advertising, food portals use two methods of directing customers searching for your restaurant to their own 3rd party platform.
Method 1: SEO optimised landing pages. Google will often include pages on the food portal’s website above your own website. This can be seen below (yellow results).
Method 2: Food portals will create mini-websites using domain names containing your own restaurant’s name. Google’s search algorithms will often rank these highly and above your own website. This can be seen below (orange results).
If your restaurant is not listed on a food portal then the portal cannot display organic search results that lead customers to their platform and allow them to place orders with your restaurant through their own third party platform.

Loyal Customers

Your restaurant and its food is not a commodity. Customers order from you because they trust your service and like your food. The data suggests that they will seek out ways to continue to order from you even if you are no longer listed on a food portal.
This faith in his customers led Ben to completely leave Europe’s largest food portal. He now accepts all his online orders through his own website and app, allowing him to build his customer database and save considerably on fees. Business has never been better for Ben Macari.

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