Gone of the days when getting a Saturday night takeaway involved phoning up your local takeaway, ordering a few dishes from the paper menu that slipped through your door some weeks before and trundling down to the restaurant to pick up your food. Whilst some are still in favour of the old school method, the world of food ordering and delivery has come a long way in the past few years.
In the year 2021, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to the variety of foods and cuisines that can be delivered to our door. App technology means that our favourite dishes are available at the touch of our fingertips. Ordering food has never been easier.
And that all comes down to the technological developments that have permeated the growth of the Online Food Ordering and Delivery Platform industry. Third-party aggregators such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat have been an enormous driving force behind much of this change, pioneering how both customers and restaurants use online food delivery services.
Offering delivery has become far more viable for restaurants that previously solely relied on customers walking through the door as their primary profit stream. Greater choice and convenience means that customers are lapping up what’s on offer like never before.
It’s reported that the Online Food Ordering and Delivery Platform sector is now worth a whopping £2.3bm alone. Showing no signs of slowing down, it’s expected to grow by 42.3% in 2021. Online delivery was already taking to the limelight prior to the events of 2020, but it’s no doubt that the pandemic has had a major influence on how the industry is shaping up.
For many restaurants, getting more bums on seats is a big focus for boosting profitability and growth. But when the doors of our much-loved restaurants, pubs and cafes closed because of the pandemic – bums on seats simply wasn’t possible.
Lots of restaurants found themselves at a bit of a loose end, scratching their heads and wondering how to survive through what was expected and turned out to be a pretty rough and turbulent time. They had to shake things up, in ways they never had done before, to continue to serve their customers, but from the comfort and safety of home. And the only answer for that was to provide delivery options. Many turned their attention to order aggregator delivery apps.
What is a delivery aggregator?
Let’s say you run a restaurant and you’re looking to offer a delivery option that works along-side your in-house dining service. You want your local customers to find your restaurant online and order your food in a quick and easy way. But how do you do this? Well really, there are two approaches that you could take; the restaurant-to-customer approach or the platform-to customer approach.
The restaurant-to-customer model sees you managing the entire operation. You:
- Advertise your menu
- Provide an online platform where customers can view your menu, order and pay – this could be a website or mobile order ahead delivery app
- Cook up the food
- Arrange and manage the delivery of the food
This model works, and well for so many restaurants. But there is an alternative approach, that strips out many of these vital, but often clunky, timely and potentially expensive steps. This is where delivery aggregators step in. Third-party delivery aggregators, such as Just Eat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo work on a platform-to-customer delivery model.
The evolution of food delivery aggregators
In the early days, many of these platforms worked essentially like a marketplace. Restaurants would partner up with aggregators. The aggregator would list the restaurant on their platform. Local customers could find out which restaurants in their local area were offering delivery, scroll through menus and check out reviews before clicking through to the chosen restaurant’s site from whom they wanted to order from. The customer would then have to contact the restaurant and place their order over the phone or via the restaurant’s website. The restaurant would handle the order and deliver the food to the customer.
This system was great. It connected restaurants to their local customers, supported them to gain recognition and was an effective way of boosting delivery sales. But it was long-winded, and the fact of the matter was that both customers and restaurants alike needed more. Customers wanted a more streamlined, convenient service that didn’t involve being moved from A to B, whilst restaurants needed logistical support. This is when delivery aggregators stepped up to the plate, offering a solution that went full circle.
How do delivery aggregators work?
Now delivery aggregators provide a platform-to-customer service. Customers can browse from a range of restaurants available in their area, before ordering via the platform. The platform handles the ordering process, including payment, and passes the order on to the restaurant. The restaurant takes care of the food-prep aspect of the operation and the delivery aggregator handles the logistics of getting the food to the customer.
And this approach makes total sense. The aggregator has all the resources and the most up-to-date technological infrastructure to take care of the logistics and ensure a sleek service from order to delivery. Restauranteurs don’t have to worry about nitty-gritty details, such as covering vehicle maintenance and insurance costs.
Food delivery aggregates take care of all of this, giving restaurants more think-space to focus solely on cooking up amazing food that their customers will love and come back for time and time again. Each expert along the way is right where they need to be.
Restaurant-to-customer vs platform-to-customer
There are pros and cons to each model, and operating a restaurant-to-customer and platform-to-customer system in parallel is certainly doable. But we’ll run you through how delivery aggregators could work for your business and give you the insight you need about the top 3 delivery aggregators in the UK at the moment.
How can delivery aggregators help your business?
As one of the quickest and easiest ways to enter your local delivery market, there are many advantages to taking the platform-to-customer online food order and delivery route. Partnering with third-party aggregators can help you to:
- Advertise your business online
- Grow your customer base
- Target a wider demographic
- Boost your restaurant’s dine-in and dine-out performance
- Increase food sales capacity
- Generate more profit
- Start delivering food quickly
- Avoid having to manage a fleet of delivery drivers
- Save on costs associated with setting up an in-house delivery service
- Provide customers with a fast and reliable delivery option
The top 3 delivery aggregators in the UK
Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats are the three big players in the UK when it comes to order aggregator delivery apps. They specialise in connecting customers with more delivery choice and restaurants with more customers, whilst taking care to facilitate an all-round fast, reliable and convenient service.
Just Eat has been around for the longest and has come a long way since they were first established in Denmark back in 2001. They landed in the UK in 2005 and have since partnered with over 29,000 restaurants across the country.
Their business model is based on providing customers with convenient, customisable and reliable food order options whilst supporting restaurants to get more out of their business in an accessible and risk-reducing way. In the past few years, they have predominantly worked to promote restaurants on their platform and handle the order process. However, recently they have shifted to a hybrid model, mirroring what their competitors’ Deliveroo and Uber Eats can offer partners and customers. Just Eat is working closely with restaurant partners and now offer to provide delivery on behalf of the restaurants.
Whilst the majority of their volume doesn’t represent delivery, they have the biggest market share of the UK order aggregation industry. Out of the three big players, Just Eat has the widest geographic order coverage. They are renowned for their broad demographic appeal, targeting both urban and suburban locations such as second-tier cities and towns.
Founded in 2013, Deliveroo has become a big player in the food delivery industry. They now operate in 11 countries worldwide and have partnered with over 140,000 restaurants. Deliveroo offers a full platform-to-customer service – advertising restaurants, taking orders and handling delivery.
They entered the food delivery market with a different approach to Just Eat. Their business model focuses on partnering with high-quality restaurants, bringing nearby dine-out options to dine-in customers. They are superb at supporting restaurants that do not have the capacity to run a delivery service but want to enter their local delivery market to boost their food sales.
Whilst they are continually broadening their local reach, Deliveroo predominantly occupies urban and city areas, where there is an abundance of restaurants to serve.
Uber Eats is different again, but they operate a similar model to Just Eat and Deliveroo. They are all about supporting local businesses whilst providing a speedy and efficient delivery service.
Built on existing Uber technology which has taken the UK taxi servicescape by a storm, Uber Eats, formally named UberFresh launched in 2014. Because of their roots, they have one of the largest networks of delivery drivers, ensuring that they can offer a quick and frequent delivery service. Worldwide they are becoming a firm favourite, with 66 million users across 6000 cities. Year on year, they are also achieving a wider reach and have started to move into more suburban areas.
How it works
Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats all operate in very similar ways. The customer finds your menu and places their order via the aggregator’s web or mobile app. As the restaurant, you receive the order, prepare the food and then the delivery to the customers is handled by the aggregator, or by you.
All three aggregators will advertise your restaurant and menu on their platform, from which customers will place their order. However, Deliveroo have recently launched ‘Brought to you by Deliveroo’ which offers a slightly different approach to the food ordering process.
Customers have the choice to order via the Deliveroo platform or directly from your restaurant’s own website. Deliveroo will still handle the delivery, and the commission works in the same way, but the customer has more interaction with your restaurant.
Although this approach moves away from the traditional platform-to-customer model, it’s designed to get restaurants more involved in the customer’s experience, thus supporting the build of brand awareness and long-term customer relationships.
Just Eat and Uber Eats give you a little more control when it comes to managing incoming orders. When Deliveroo orders come in, they are automatically accepted, although this functionality can be switched off. The order is printed onto a receipt, which includes the delivery time. If the preparation time runs over the delivery time, you can flick the ‘Busy’ switch, which will give you more time to cook the food.
With Just Eat, you receive new orders via the Orderpad, which you can choose to confirm or cancel. Once confirmed, the system asks you to wait until a driver is allocated before you prepare the order. When the food is good to go, you notify Just Eat via the Orderpad and a driver will arrive. Of course, if you are operating the delivery yourself, you simply accept the order and take it from there.
Uber Eats works fairly similarly. The only difference is that once you have accepted the order, you’ll be given an estimated pick up time for each order so that you know how long you have to prepare each order. If the food is prepped before the ‘Ready By’ time, you can tap ‘Food is Done’ and an Uber Eats delivery driver will arrive earlier. You can of course delay or cancel orders too, and if you find that you’re swamped with orders, you can actually pause new orders, which will temporarily take your restaurant off of the Uber Eats platform until you’re ready to accept orders again.
All three aggregators can facilitate a full platform-to-customer service, providing delivery to your customer’s doors.
Delivering to your customers
Uber Eats is the most geared up for this in terms of the number of drivers available, however, Deliveroo also has a vast network of delivery riders and drivers within their operating areas.
Whilst Just Eat is fairly new to the game of running a full-scale delivery service compared to their competitors, more and more couriers are becoming available and their delivery network is expanding at the rate of knots. If you want Just Eat to provide delivery for you, you’ll need to inform them of your location at the start of the sign-up process so they can check if your area is covered.
DIY delivery options
All three providers also give you the option to handle the deliveries yourself. The advantage of this is that you’ll pay a reduced commission fee. Just be aware that some providers don’t allow you to mix and match between delivery methods – it’s an all-or-nothing approach.
Deliveroo, Just Eat And Uber Eats also offer customers the choice to collect their order directly from your restaurant, and again this takes your commission fee down. This works well if you want to continue promoting and take orders via the platform, but only want to offer delivery on certain days or hours.
Advertise and manage your menu
Just Eat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo advertise your restaurant and menu on their web and app-based platforms. They provide you with the ability to manage your online menu and make changes when necessary.
On Just Eat’s platform, delivery restaurants are displayed in a list format, with partners offering promotions being displayed at the top of the list. Users can whittle down their choice using a selection of categories, including cuisine type, rating, special offers and free delivery.
Uber Eats uses several categories to display restaurants available. These can include ‘Your favourites’, based on the customers’ previous orders, ‘Popular near you’, ‘People who ordered ** also enjoyed **’ and ‘Free delivery promotion’.
Deliveroo uses a similar category structure including categories such as ‘Featured’, ‘Up to 20% off’, ‘Only on Deliveroo’ and ‘Fastest Delivery’.
Each platform displays those all-important reviews as well as delivery fees, delivery distance and estimated delivery time.
All three aggregators offer a number of payment options, including debit and credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay and gift cards. Only Just Eat and Uber Eats allow customers to pay by cash.
Customers can also order ahead and delay the delivery of their order on all three platforms. Deliveroo customers can order up to 24 hours in advance, whilst Uber Eats users can order up to 7 days before delivery.
Once customers have ordered, they can track their delivery via the website or app. Uber Eats and Deliveroo order tracking offers more detail and precision than Just Eat’s, giving the customer additional information on a step-by-step basis.
Just Eat will inform the customer when the order has been accepted. They also use SMS to notify the customer when the food has left the restaurant and is on-route. Similarly, Uber Eats and Deliveroo use push notifications to do the same thing.
Getting set up with one of these three aggregators is pretty straightforward. With Deliveroo and Uber Eats, the entire setup process is said to take 7 days, whilst Just Eat should take around 5 days to set up.
Provide some documentation
As standard, all three ask you to provide information about your business and restaurant, some ID, proof of ownership and registration with FSA or FSS, and of course a copy of your menu.
Uber Eats and Deliveroo offer a photography service so that you can get the best pictures of your menu. This is included with Uber Eats’ setup fees, however, be aware that Deliveroo may charge an extra fee in some cases for this service.
Setting up the hardware and software
Once you’ve got all the admin out of the way, you’re provided with the hardware needed to facilitate the service. Just Eat gives you a pretty impressive all-in-one touchpad and printer. Deliveroo also provides you with a tablet and wireless printer, for which you can receive 24-hour tech support. However, with Uber Eats you’re only provided with a tablet – you need to supply the printer yourself.
Of course, tracking and reporting is essential, so all three providers set you up with slick reporting systems so that you can keep track of your delivery performance.
Uber Eats’ system, ‘Restaurant Manager’, gives information about menus, payment information, sales data and customer insights.
Just Eat gives you access to personalised data, insights and business best practice, whilst Deliveroo’s ‘Restaurant Hub’ is where you’ll find data on sales, progress and information about how to attract new customers with special offers.
You’ve probably wondered how delivery aggregators make their money. And the answer to that is commission. They will advertise your restaurant, manage the order and deliver the food, but they’ll take a percentage of the money made on each order. Some third-party aggregators will also charge a joining, or set up fee.
The cost to join the Just Eat platform is £699 plus VAT. With this, you’ll receive the Just-Connect technology needed to offer Just Eat delivery. This is not an upfront payment, rather it gets deducted from sales and payments made by debit and credit card when you get started.
Out of the three most popular aggregator delivery apps, Just Eat charges the least in commission fees. You’ll then pay a 14% plus VAT commission fee on each order, or 30% plus VAT if Just Eat handles the delivery. Just Eat customers also pay a £1.50 delivery fee and there’s a 50p admin charge for each order paid for online, which you can pay or choose to pass the cost onto your customers.
Uber Eats charge an activation fee, which again covers the costs to get your restaurant set up on the platform. Whilst the UK site does not state what this fee is, the US site shows that this onetime fee is $350. This includes a welcome kit, tablet, restaurant software and a professional photoshoot. They also charge 30% commission per order if you use the full platform service, including delivery, but only 15% if you choose to provide delivery yourself or if the customer collects from your restaurant. There’s an additional customer delivery fee of £3.50.
Whilst Deliveroo doesn’t openly disclose their commission fees, it’s suggested that they charge up to 35% per order, with the average commission fee being between 20-25%. They occasionally promote £0 onboarding fees for new restaurants, but again their normal onboarding costs are not disclosed. They charge customers a delivery fee of £2.50.
If you’re looking to widen your reach and increase your food sales, delivery aggregators such as Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats offer a quick route to getting your food onto the tables of your local customers.
They take the pressure off having to set up and organise a full-scale delivery service yourself and can provide the most up-to-date technology to support your delivery service to thrive and grow.
Choosing which partners are most suited to your restaurant will depend entirely on your location, restaurant type and delivery demand. Teaming up with more than one aggregator is certainly a viable option.
Many restaurants are reaping the benefits of having a presence on these apps and have experienced significant growth since entering their local delivery market in this way.