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Meerchant: Why Online Ordering is Changing the Restaurant Industry?

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Gerardo Capiel

Written by Silicon Valley based entrepreneur Gerardo Capiel, ‎Founder and CEO of Meerchant

In 1996, Expedia, a division of Microsoft‏, launched a website offering online bookings for air, hotels, and car rentals. Later that year, Travelocity, launched its own site with similar offerings. These sites allowed the consumer to discover new hotels and book an entire trip in one place. While hotels initially loved the online travel agencies (OTAs) because they had large marketing budgets and were driving new travelers into their hotels, the bookings came with a steep price.

Smart hoteliers were diligent about making the most of the opportunity by capturing the contact information of the guests upon check in for their own marketing campaigns, and ensuring they provided great service so the guests would book directly the next time they were in town. However, many hoteliers didn’t capitalize on the opportunity. They used the OTAs to fill rooms at a discount and began to rely on the OTAs marketing prowess instead of developing innovative tactics to drive their own direct bookings.

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I am seeing a similar pattern today with restaurants and the delivery services that purport to help them land new customers. While their meal count may go up, the problem is three-fold. One, the restaurants rarely receive the contact information of the at-home diners so they loss the opportunity to market to them directly. Two, the delivery company owns the experience but the restaurant’s brand is at stake. So if the food takes two hours to arrive, the consumer blames the restaurant, even though the problem is likely with the delivery service. Finally, in an industry with very low margins, restaurateurs are giving up a big percentage to delivery services, in some cases resulting in margin negative transactions. It just doesn’t add up.

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For these reasons and more, ChowBOT by Meerchant wants to help. The ChowBOT solution provides a quick and easy way to post and update your menu. Then simply link to the menu from your existing website. Own your customers, own your orders. Second, when you manage your own delivery, whether with your own drivers or Postmates, you own the entire experience, from food prep to food hand-off, ensuring a great experience. Finally, you maintain your margins in a very competitive market.

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But, because we know third party ordering can help drive revenue and restaurant discovery, ChowBOT provides valuable services to help manage and streamline the process. All orders from GrubHub, Eat24, DoorDash and Caviar are funneled to a single kitchen printer located on the cook line. Eliminate the complexity of tablets, faxes, emails, and phone calls for your workers.

In this highly competitive industry, ordering and delivery services present a compelling opportunity for new customer acquisition. By creating a multi-channel strategy, where new customers are brought in through 3rd parties, while also offering a direct ordering channel for existing customers, restaurants are able to strike a balance and maintain fiscal and brand control. ChowBOT enables merchants to easily establish and automate these multiple channels.

Last Updated on June 11, 2016

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