A New Way of Ordering

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Welcome to the ordering revolution. Although ordering clothing online has definitely had a revolution of its own, being able to have an item delivered to your door without having to go to the store is nothing new. However, what is relatively innovative, is the new(er) method of online food ordering. I remember back to a time when you only had three options when you were hungry:

 

  1. Cook a meal in your kitchen
  2. Go to the nearest restaurant with family or friends
  3. Order from a restaurant, drive there, and pick up the delivery

 

Today we live in an impatient society where we want everything now and we want it to be at our convenience. After the start of the internet boom, came another innovation, Seamless. In 2000, Seamless was the first app created that provided companies the ease of ordering food online from the comfort of their office. In 2005, the company decided to expand the model and open the service to individuals. Today, you can find endless apps just like Seamless and deciding which app to use is almost as difficult as deciding what to order. Like every other college student, I made sure to utilize this service all too often: whenever class ran late, when I had to sit in the library for endless hours doing homework, or when my laziness took over, and I simply didn’t feel like cooking for myself. These sites allow people to save time while also eating delicious food. There is already so much pressure to make the most of your day. As much as an app like this can help the busy college student or young professional, it can also become an expensive habit.

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This type of digital business model has created a time-saving alternative to cooking without sacrificing the quality of your meal. More specifically, ordering food online is extremely easy. It’s as easy as clicking a mouse to order and waiting on your couch for your food to come to you. Some programs make it even easier by incorporating a recommendation tab. For example, Foodler will look at your past orders and based on that, suggest restaurants you may also enjoy. I am personally an indecisive person at times (especially when deciding what to eat). Having these suggestions helps me narrow down a list of hundreds of options to just a handful. Another way programs, such as Foodler, use recommendations is through menu items. When you click on the menu for a restaurant, you can find a list of suggestions based on your order history and overall popularity. The final way recommendations are used throughout food ordering apps is through written reviews from previous customers. This social aspect to apps allows you to see what customers thought of the establishments service, food, and overall feel. Foodler only has the option to rate a meal based on stars. Apps like Yelp allow you to see real comments and conversations. Like I said, I am extremely picky, and being able to see how different entrees compare to one another based on reviews other customers have written makes my decision that much easier. On apps like Yelp, you can find general information, see pictures of the food, and written reviews about the restaurant.

Although there are obvious benefits of a successful service like this, there are also downfalls. The other day someone mentioned Yelp having to pay people to write positive reviews instead of negative ones. Unfortunately, this is definitely a fault of this type of system and it’s nearly impossible to find ways to eliminate this problem. Another issue I’ve found with this type of model is the inevitable costs. For example, each restaurant has a delivery fee and order minimum. Some places are very reasonable about these types of prices, while others have high fees.  If a location is far, a high delivery charge or minimum is justified, but I’ve found places only a few minutes down the road that have ridiculous prices. Here is where it gets tricky. At what point does our generations’ laziness override our desire to save money? Personally, if the prices on the menu are low and the surrounding ordering price is high, I will pass and make something myself. I would love to look more into why certain sites and eateries have higher charges than others, but that’s a conversation for another blog post.

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https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/seamless-2/timeline#/timeline/index

http://orders2.me/the-online-food-ordering-revolution/

10 comments

  1. Aditya Murali · ·

    Nice article! I have always found myself going back and forth on how I feel about apps like Seamless and Grubhub. On the one hand, they make ordering food very easy, simple, and quick because my past orders are saved in their system and it has my credit card information stored already for easy payment. On the other hand, at times I am unable to justify the extra cost of using the website, which for GrubHub is $2. Yes, the ‘suggested food’ feature is great and the user interface is painless, but I would rather go through the trouble of physically calling the restaurant and placing my order to save those $2.

  2. gabcandelieri · ·

    Great post! I have personally never taken advantage of food delivery apps such as Seamless or Foodler. In an of itself online food ordering is a genius way to harp on our generation’s general laziness/ busy lifestyle. In terms of price, I feel as though these companies should be understanding that they have a large consumer following from college students who seek convenience (and usually lack cooking skills). It seems that, by instituting a large price tag for their services, they are taking advantage of the fact that online food ordering is extremely conducive to students’ hectic lives instead of realizing that most of these students cannot actually afford their services daily. In the end, the success of these services and the creation of more online food companies shows that laziness usually wins out.

  3. I’ve never heard of Seamless and I haven’t used Foodler before. It’s definitely interesting to read how different apps will charge different prices, will they charge different delivery prices for the same restaurant? I feel like I’ve heard someone say that before, I think it was Foodler vs GrubHub. These apps and websites make ordering food so easy, and it’s especially appealing for people that are busy (or lazy).

  4. Great post! I’ve never heard of Foodler before so it was interesting to learn how it suggests food items that you might like based on what you have ordered in the past. Sounds a lot like Amazon and how they suggest products for you at the bottom of your screen that other people who have ordered the same product have also paired with it. It’s an interesting concept to parallel clothing delivery to food delivery because I, personally, am so hesitant to pay for shipping and wait until websites have free shipping for clothing and other goods to order, yet when I am ordering take out my bill ends up being so high that I wonder why I did not eat out at a fancy restaurant. I like how you drew attention to this literal cost of laziness and how at some point it gets to be too much. Really interesting topic!

  5. We tried Blue Apron for the first time recently, and was pretty impressed. I do think we will start to see more of these delivery type options as companies begin to rely on Uber-like infrastructures for delivery that make the process cheaper and higher quality for both providers and customers.

  6. Great post! It is unbelievable how fast sites like Seamless and Foodler have made simple online ordering the norm. I think we will continue to see innovation in the ordering and food delivery spaces for food brand. Consumers are very price sensitive in this area, so one way to get out of a price wars is superior convenience and/or rewards for the customer.

  7. I think companies like Seamless have been successful because they are used in many different corporations right now across the world. When people are staying late in the office and need dinner, Seamless is getting them their order. However, companies like GrubHub and Foodler are trying to hit the individual customer really hard, and, from an outsider view, I’m not too sure how you can scale that kind of model effectively. It’s going to be hard to create a source of competitive advantage because there are many apps out there that can very easily copy what you’re doing. It’ll be interesting to see if this becomes a winner takes all market. Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Nice post! I’m a foodie, so the Foodler app on my phone is one of my most used. Though not great for my wallet, apps like Foodler just make it so convenient to eat yummy food after a long day of classes or work. As college students, it’s even more tempting with limited time due to juggling classes, extracurriculars, and internships. Something I really enjoy about apps like Foodler though is that there is a point system, so the more you spend, the more points you can use later to redeem so you can save a little bit of money which is always nice!

  9. Hi! I’m so glad you chose this topic. Thinking about how I’m going to get food is a big part of my daily life. I have a full-time job in addition to being a grad student, plus I don’t have a car. This means that I pretty much need to sit down at the beginning of the week and plan out every meal I’ll have for the next seven days. Armed with my very detailed shopping list, I go on my weekly shopping trip. This can be super stressful because I don’t want to spend too much money and I also don’t want to purchase food that I won’t eat and end up throwing out. Resorting to apps like Seamless and Foodler would make this whole shopping process easier, but then I feel guilty about the extra cost. Similarly, I like the idea of Blue Apron, but when breaking down the cost of each box, it seems like you are spending proportionally more money on all these ingredients than you would if purchased these items individually (for example, you might only get the portion of a spice that you need for the dish, but you could save money by buying the bottle in the spice aisle and using it for many dishes.)

  10. There’s an app called Door-Dash that a lot of people from my hometown use which seems very similar to Seemless. It’s essentially structured a lot like Uber where their employees are all freelancers. People can work whenever they want to and need to supply their own car. You pay for the food through the app and then you pay the driver when they show up at your door. What really gives them an edge is just how diverse their options for food are. They target restaurants ranging from Wendy’s to Abby Park or Steel & Rye (Both pretty respectable restaurants in my town, a steak at either of them is like $40). The places they really go after are the ones that don’t deliver (a lot of local Mom & Pop restaurants). The app essentially acts as the middle-man between these restaurants and delivery drivers.

    A couple of large chains have also began using apps to benefit their companies. I can think of Starbucks and Chipotle just to name a few. You can order on either of these apps and you pay with a card on it in advance. You can place your order when you’re leaving your house and when you show to pick it up your order is ready for you. The best part is you’re allowed to cut the line. I haven’t waited in line at Starbucks once since this feature came out on their app about a year ago. Great post overall.

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