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Yelp links traffic to transactions via mobile ordering feature

Yelp is making a major move to differentiate itself in the location-based services space by adding ordering services to its mobile site and applications.

The online rating site has launched Yelp Platform to let consumers order from local restaurants and merchants. Mobile ordering is available on Yelp’s mobile site, iOS app and Web site.

“Yelp Platform provides a new way for consumers to transact directly from a Yelp business listing, whether they are discovering that business on their desktop, mobile Web or on an iOS device,” said Kristen Whisenand, spokeswoman at Yelp, San Francisco.

“As more and more consumers turn to Yelp’s mobile applications to discover great local businesses while they’re on-the-go, it makes sense to provide these users with the opportunity to make a purchase directly from the app.”

Mobile helpings
Yelp Platform is initially launching in New York and San Francisco at a few restaurants that work with Eat 24 and’s partners including New York’s Harry’s Italian Pizza Bar and San Francisco’s Layaly Mediterranean Grill.

To place an order, consumers find the restaurant’s listing on Yelp’s mobile site, apps or Web site. Users then choose to either pick-up or have their order delivered.

A page then shows the restaurant’s menu where they can customize their order and checkout by linking a Yelp account to a credit card.

The goal is for the program to eventually reach a bigger scale so that consumers nationwide can order from their favorite nearby restaurants straight from a Yelp listing.

The tool is initially targeting restaurants but is also looking to expand mobile transactions to other merchant areas such as dentists, salons and fitness centers as a way for consumers to quickly pay for goods and services from their handsets.

An update for the feature is scheduled to be rolled out across Yelp’s Android app soon.

The ordering page on Yelp’s mobile site

Race to the top
The battle to win the location-based service industry is tight between Yelp and its competitors, which include foursquare, Groupon and Google.

To help differentiate itself, Yelp recently revamped its mobile app to focus on recommendations (see story).

One of the biggest challenges is around not only being able to monetize listing pages but also reaching the largest group of users.

Therefore, one of the things that makes Yelp stand out is its scale since the company has a massive hold of the local merchant space already.

Additionally, adding a transactional piece to reviews could likely help Yelp monetize its business by cutting deals with its partners.

With local restaurants and merchants all vying to drive consumers in-store, the move could also possibly help persuade new brands to jump on board with Yelp.

The new ordering option will let local restaurants close the loop with mobile and desktop traffic to give merchants a perspective on how their business is doing.

“We know that consumers are already turning to Yelp to make a spending decision, and our mobile apps give these consumers the power of 39 million reviews as of Q1 2013 in their back pocket,” Ms. Whisenand said.

“With Yelp Platform, consumers can go from discovering a local business on Yelp to actually transacting with that business seamlessly while still on Yelp,” she said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York