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Food delivery apps beef up, broadening omnichannel opportunities

Significant sales jumps for food and beverage delivery applications during recent winter storm Juno point to the rich opportunity for retailers and brands to engage in partnership opportunities, as experts believe that they will help drive in-store commerce rather than detract from sales.

Drizly, Seamless and Saucey are among the delivery apps garnering wide fan bases due to the sheer convenience and amount of options they offer consumers, especially during unprecedented events such as winter storm Juno. However, while they are enjoying high levels of mcommerce, the apps are also driving awareness of local retailers and restaurants, suggesting that food and beverage marketers should attempt to work with these apps instead of against them.

“Food and alcohol delivery apps should positively affect commerce in stores and online,” said Mark Ghermezian, CEO of Appboy, New York. “Together, mobile apps and the mobile Web can complement in-store commerce providing a multichannel experience for customers.

“It all comes down to consumer preference. As the retailer, you want to make sure you give consumers various options to purchase,” he said.

“Some people enjoy the experience of shopping and visiting their supermarkets while others prefer ordering from the convenience of their homes.”

Cross-partnership opportunities
As food and alcohol delivery apps attempt to broaden the options and services they offer users, more opportunities for cross-partnerships with retailers and brands will abound. For marketers that do not currently offer delivery options within their own apps, teaming up with a service such as Seamless or GrubHub can only expand the reach of potential clients.

“Food marketers and brands should offer delivery options to service those consumers seeking that level of convenience,” Mr. Ghermezian said. “It will help them to compete in the highly competitive food and alcohol industries.”

A key strategy for retailers is to ensure that they are connecting with customers through all available channels. The popularity of food ordering mobile apps is displaying that some consumers prefer to eschew weekly supermarket visits for home deliveries, although other customers will still visit their preferred retailers for their shopping needs.

Local markets and shops should certainly be considering all options available on mobile, as the food sector is becoming increasingly more crowded, meaning that outreach and delivery options must be available to stay competitive.

Services can also be advertised more easily via food apps. Saucey, an alcohol delivery app based in Los Angeles and San Francisco, recently rolled out a bartender-for-hire service that enables consumers to order a mixologist to come to their homes and teach them how to make some of Absolut Vodka’s signature cocktails (see story).

The event advantage
Another benefit for food brands that choose to integrate with apps such as Seamless or GrubHub is ensuring that business stays steady – if not higher than average – during major live events or inclement weather situations when mobile ordering jumps to all-time highs.

Both Grubhub and were expecting significant upticks in ordering ahead of winter storm Juno this week, while Drizly saw the volume of alcohol orders increase by 354 percent and 117 percent in Boston and New York, respectively.

“To capitalize on events, you must have the marketing knowhow to create the demand, and the infrastructure in place to service it,” said Michael DiLorenzo, senior vice president of marketing at Drizly, Boston, MA. “In this specific case, we were looking at a very dangerous storm.

“So, it was less about capitalizing on consumers being shut in than it was about shifting demand to more favorable, safer delivery times. But because of our reach and our infrastructure we were able to handle the huge shift in demand from Tuesday to Monday.”

Restaurants that wanted to stay open during the storm likely would not have seen much, if any, in-store traffic, therefore leaving delivery apps to act as the middle man between consumers’ spikes in demand for products and food retailers.

“The increase in popularity of alcohol delivery apps, including Saucey, is actually good for local liquor stores since the app connects consumers to local retailers,” said Djamel Agaoua, CEO of MobPartner, San Francisco. “Retailers may even see higher sales as customers may be more likely to buy more, since they no longer have to worry about lugging heavy bottles.

“Food marketers and brands should focus on how they are going to advertise on such apps, not how they are going to compete with them.”

As Apple Pay and other mobile wallet programs continue to reign supreme in 2015, consumers and marketers can expect to see delivery apps cement their top status in mcommerce, proving that food and alcohol brands must join these apps rather than beat them.

“While mcommerce sales boast encouraging numbers, mobile purchases have lagged behind online purchases on table and desktop,” Mr. Agaoua said. “One on the biggest barriers has been security.

“Now that apps are being built with secure methods of payment we are already seeing a huge uptick in consumer trust—and it’s only going to increase.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York