Order Direct Converts
In conversations with pizzeria operators at Pizza Expo, on The Hot Slice podcast and visiting restaurants, the same question is frequently posed: How do I get the third-party delivery customer to become my customer? Getting customers to order directly from your pizzeria will require a strategy on your part.
“Word of mouth” marketing may get you customers on a third-party delivery platform, but it will not win them over to ordering from you directly.
What do we know about American consumers? Recent studies from Sense360 found that 63 percent of customers would rather order directly from a restaurant. A SevenRoom study found that 47 percent of customers think it’s cheaper to order directly from a restaurant.
So why do they order from third-party providers? It stems from customers’ buying behavior. And, as we all know, changing habits is a challenging task. We could devote hundreds of pages to changing consumer buying habits. Let’s focus on the task at hand: third-party conversion.
We enlisted the expertise of David “Rev” Ciancio, co-founder/CMO of Handcrafted Burgers and Brews and head of revenue marketing for Branded Strategic. Ciancio has guided restaurants to take back their deliveries from third party. We also tapped one of the best marketing minds in the pizzeria business: Clayton Krueger, director of marketing and communications at Tacoma, Washington-based Farrelli’s Pizza.
Ciancio points to the root of issue as he sees it: third-party complacency. “(It) is that they go raise their prices on third party. And they are like, ‘oh well, I’m getting dinged and they have my guests’ data but at least I’m making my margin and that’s good enough.’ I think that is a terrible way to operate. Operators who just go in and raise the prices, it’s like ‘Ok, I would tell you to do that. That’s smart. But how are you getting them to stop using GrubHub and order from you directly?’”
Therein lies the quandary. “It’s not like third party is going anywhere, so you just have to figure out how to utilize it,” Krueger says of Farrelli’s approach. “Our opportunity with third party is really to think of it as a new customer acquisition strategy.” Acquiring customers can be an expensive way to drive sales but you have to gain new customers in the pizza business.
Krueger continues: “In this day and age, third party is one of the best platforms to do that. These are people who want a product you sell that are on a marketplace where you most likely are and they are not brand loyal at this point. If anything, they are brand loyal to DoorDash or whomever and are willing to pay a premium. How do we a.) get our share of those customers and b.) what do we want to do with them once we got them? You kind of have to have a strategy around that right out of the gate, which is super high level. So, you have to have a benefit for them to come over to your side. Once you have that then you can communicate. That is really the strategy that we’ve tried to employ.”
A manageable way for Farrelli’s to do that is to not partner with every third-party platform available, but instead to be exclusive to the one(s) that are most beneficial to the pizza company. That also allows Farrelli’s the ability to negotiate a better rate with its DoorDash partner.
There are tactical approaches you can take to convert third-party customers to order from you directly. Ciancio warns that you must be willing to be proactive. “If you’ve decided you want to win this battle, all you have to do is mimic GrubHub,” he says, using GrubHub as an example of third-party providers. “Do what they do. Use them as a model. What do they do? They collect guest data, they e-mail their guest, they text message their guest and they make it easy to order. If you just do those four things, you’ll be more successful.”
Ciancio dives into strategies further with three action items.
1. Make online ordering easy for the customer. “You got to have your own online ordering system and it has to be easy to use,” he says. “Remember GrubHub is easy to use. I can literally use a thumb to get hot wings. You have to have an online ordering system that is easy to use and intuitive.” You need to reduce the amount of clicks it takes to add a pizza into a checkout cart to as few as possible.
2. Limit your menu on third party platforms. “I would only play my greatest hits on third party,” Ciancio says. “So if someone happens to really love your specialty this or that, they have to go to you to get it.”
3. Raise your prices on third-party platforms. Ciancio says you do need to raise your prices on third party but, you also need to incentivize customers to come over to your ordering platform.
Furthermore, is your brand front and center with the third-party customer? If you use unbranded boxes, bags, cups and napkins, customers are not being exposed to your brand. Custom-branded items will help the third-party customer correlate your food with your brand. “You have to be memorable,” Ciancio says.
Farrelli’s works to make ordering directly as seamless as possible. “The barrier to entry is friction,” Krueger says. “You have to make it as frictionless as possible for them to make the switch and you’ve also got to dangle a little carrot in front of their face and say, ‘Come over here.’
“In our case, the kinds of carrots we hang in front of those people’s face is we offer free delivery for any order that is over $50. That is well under our order average. We also offer discounts and deals.”
Farrelli’s targets third-party customers on every order. “They get a specific box-top sticker that targets them that says, ‘Hey, next time, place your order through our app and get $10 off on your first and get free delivery for orders over $50,’” Krueger says. The sticker also includes a bullet-pointed list of reasons to order from its app with a QR code.
Ciancio suggests going even further and instead of offering a discount for the next visit, ask for the customer’s feedback. “How was your pizza?” he asks. “Tap the QR code and tell me, then I’m going to capture your e-mail or phone number so I can market to you in a week. I’ll ping you in a week and ask you to order and I’ll send you the coupon then.” It creates a call-to-action.
Since Farrelli’s does not have in-house delivery, the company also uses DoorDash exclusively for deliveries. Even so, Krueger says, they strive to convert customers from the DoorDash Marketplace into Farrelli’s online ordering and app systems. “We have never had delivery,” Krueger says. “So third-party really provided us a whole new stream that we’ve never been able to tap into prior because we didn’t have drivers.” The delivery program works through Farrelli’s internal online ordering system. “It’s our data,” he adds. “We are collecting data so it is in our best interest to convert those guests over so that we have that data so we can market to them and get them back through the door more frequently.”
DENISE GREER is Executive Editor at Pizza Today.