Improving Delivery Partner Supply Chain Loyalty

(Some Customers think it’s OK to Jump the Queue)

There are lots of delivery partners in London – Deliveroo, Henchman, Jinn, Quiqup, Bring It, Take Eat Easy, Caterwings, etc – and each charges a sizeable percentage to the restaurant as commission for handling orders and providing marketing through their platform. More on that here (Q4 2015) and here (Q1 2016).

As the customer orders from the delivery partner, all their information is held by said partner. Since data has value, the delivery partner passes very little of it to the restaurant. There is an opportunity here for the delivery partner to provide some data (for example loyalty-related) to the restaurant which will create a more seamless supply chain from the restaurant to the customer through the third-party delivery company.

The system is set up as a marketplace, like Amazon, so the customer knows and chooses to order from a specific restaurant. Having done so, the customer then assumes it’s OK to call the restaurant directly and make changes to the order without a corresponding charge. This happens very rarely and 99% of orders just go smoothly. But the 1% can be a real headache. And this is where the loyalty data may help.

Here’s an example of the queue-jumping customer.

Innocent Beginnings

The call usually starts with “I couldn’t find Item X on [insert delivery partner] but could you just add Item X”. When you politely advise that the additional item is chargeable the customer sometimes turns nasty. One customer tried this with us recently, claiming she was a “very good customer” and had “just placed a very large order with Deliveroo” and demanded we give her extra dips for free, we’re not talking a couple of dips here, but (in her words) “much larger portions so there is plenty to go round, like the size of the hummus portion.” We don’t buy in the cheap mass-produced dip pots like you get with pizzas, we make them all from scratch using fresh ingredients.

Losing the Plot

I politely advised the customer that dips are only complimentary for some items on the menu, but not for everything, and “very large portions” would be chargeable. I would check with the kitchen and, if the customer had ordered items where dips were complimentary, I would make sure the dips were included. The customer then instructed me that “you will include the large portions for free because it’s a very big order.” I just advised I would check.

No Way Out

When I checked with the kitchen it was a £43 order, which for us is not a large order, and there was nothing on the order that qualified for complimentary dips. The customer was asking me to give away items worth approximately £8 because they had decided they were entitled to them. This is a classic “no-win” situation.

I’m now in a Catch-22 situation. I decided to add a regular-sized dip pot but as soon as the customer received the order I had the soap-box rant phone call:

“This is the worst customer service ever,” she belted, “you and your restaurant can go F.U.C.K. yourself. I’m influential on social media so you better watch out.”

This was the short version – her tirade lasted about a minute lecturing me about how loyal she was and we should reward her for it. Customers can be nobs as one journalist wrote.

Loyalty: An Opportunity?

Delivery partner orders go directly to the kitchen and there can be any one of a number of chefs who pick up the order depending who is working on the pass that day. The front of house team have no visibility of them, but they have to field the calls.

With the delivery partners, there is no ‘loyalty’ system visible at the restaurant’s end, no way to see how loyal a customer is aside from the chef remembering the customer’s name and order frequency. Since multiple chefs may be receiving the orders, it is not possible to track loyalty without tasking somebody to aggregate all the details. That’s a headache.

When you are paying a very large slice of the revenue to the delivery partner, it’s my view that the delivery partner should be providing this information since they already have it. However, they don’t because of “data protection” which roughly translates to “it’s their data, not yours.”

I understand the data protection rules and I’m OK not having all the details, but when it’s used as an excuse not to provide information when some information would be a huge benefit you can’t help but feel like just a number in their machine.

There is an opportunity here to present something to the restaurant since the customer name, telephone number and order value are provided to the restaurant by the delivery partner (didn’t we say data protection earlier?). They could easily aggregate an average order value and number of orders and display this on the order also. This simplified data could help the restaurant better reward loyal customers.

Current Order

Customer: John Doe
Telephone: 11111 222222
Order Value: £34.55

List of Items Ordered

Proposed Order

Customer: John Doe
Telephone: 11111 222222
Order Value: £34.55
Number of Orders: 4
Average Value: £45.03
Average Frequency: 12 days

List of Items Ordered

We know that delivery partners reward their loyal customers based on this – for example with free delivery or other vouchers – aggregated across all orders from all restaurants. The delivery partner cites that the data is aggregated as the reason for not providing any insight as this would breach “data protection” and risk exposure of customer data for other restaurants. Personally, as a former software engineer and web developer, I’m not convinced. It just seems like a missed opportunity.

Breaking the Chain

We have now decided that if a customer wants to change the order via a delivery partner then since their ‘contract’ is with the delivery partner, they will need to call them and amend the order. We will continue to be hospitable but those who think they can just throw their weight around with social media threats and tantrums will simply be asked to call the delivery partner.

Restaurants have to pay a large commission to the delivery partner to be listed on their system (up to 25%) so they have little margin to play with for loyalty rewards for regular customers. At Meejana, we use our own online loyalty system for online orders which shows additional data like the number of orders and total order value which allows us to periodically reward customers and apply discounting rules automatically. It’s easier to give back when you order direct!

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