Aggregators don’t cater to you

Are you familiar with online ordering aggregators? Sites like GrubHub and CaterCow offer a one-stop shop for thousands of restaurants and caterers. That may be convenient for consumers, but what’s in it for operators?

Just another dish at a buffet

When a consumer visits an aggregator, they start by entering their location. From there, dozens (if not hundreds) of options appear. Consumers can then sort by type of food, price, location, and rating. If your establishment is lucky enough to appear in the filtered results, you may still be one of ten or more on a page.

It’s easy to get swallowed up or shoved aside. These sites require operators to standardize their pricing, photos, descriptions, and delivery options. The goal is to have every caterer and restaurant fit the mold and display uniformly on their site. Because what it comes down to is aggregators are catering to their customers—at the expense of the operator.

A piece of your pie

Aggregators make money off the orders placed through their sites. Restaurants and caterers are losing 14% or more on every order placed. In theory, just being on one of these sites should increase the number of orders you receive, somewhat offsetting the costs. But in reality, you’re one of many establishments on a crowded website. And even if you get the orders, you’re losing out on the deal.

Instead of reaping the rewards of online ordering, many etablishments are feeling the pinch. As one operator put it in a recent article, “It’s awesome if you’re a customer. It’s great, but in all aspects it’s killing the restaurants. It’s a model that cannot be sustained.”

No cake walk

Even with the goal of convenience, aggregators can leave a bad taste in the customer’s mouth. Sometimes the site can’t always find an address and then won’t let the user place an order. I have personal experience here. When trying to place a large order with a local burrito place, I got booted when the site didn’t recognize my address. Other times orders aren’t promptly relayed to operators, resulting in frustrating delays. Or worse, the orders never go through at all.

Orders probably go through seamlessly much of the time, but why put something as important as customer experience in someone else’s hands? When things go right and orders turn out perfectly, the compliments to the chef are often misplaced, with the rave reviews landing on a third-party webpage.

It’s all about presentation

Having a web presence is essential these days, but it’s critical that you be in charge of your image and your brand. Don’t let your business be just another item on someone else’s menu. If appearing on an aggregator’s website is a part of your presence, then it should only be as a side dish. The main course should be an ordering site of your own; where you control the pricing, photos, descriptions, and delivery options. After all, it’s your business and they’re your customers.

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