The new realities of restaurant marketing


Welcome to Expedite, a (mostly) weekly newsletter by Kristen Hawley covering what’s important in restaurant technology. Friday edition brought to you by my recent vacation. Thanks for your patience.

The New Realties of Restaurant Marketing

We're in the third month of Expedite’s partnership with TechTable, and this month’s TechTable Connect newsletter explores what it takes to run a successful marketing operation in 2020 — and beyond. I talked to restaurant marketers and tech companies large and small to inform the piece, but one thing remains very consistent: looking into the future, control of customer data will become make-or-break for restaurant businesses.

It’s now more of an open secret that third-party platforms collect and apply user data in ways that may not benefit the restaurant (if they share that data at all.) Knowledge is power, though, as Olo founder and CEO Noah Glass shared in a December Forbes Technology Council post encouraging restaurants to insist on certain measures when working with third parties.

There’s good news, though: it doesn’t have to be “us” (the restaurants) vs. “them” (the third-party tech solutions.) Restaurant businesses and tech companies do recognize the value of working together to drive growth. This month: a spotlight on marketing for the new decade — the reality of working with third-party companies, and leveraging data to strengthen brand and customer connection. .

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What else is happening?

On Thursday, DoorDash announced it filed a confidential S-1, an official step to a debut on the public market. The release suggests an IPO — that’s an initial public offering — not a direct listing as I had previously speculated. While the S-1 will remain under wraps to most of us until a couple weeks before the to-be-determined IPO date, details tend to leak out here and there during the pre-IPO roadshow, as company executives present to financial institutions looking for backing.

( if you’ve got ‘em, this is my Super Bowl.)

Delivery is pricey, and the NYT is on it. A recent piece compares the cost structures of the four major companies to determine the true cost of delivery. Turns out, fees add up quickly! Right now, we’re paying them — but remember, these delivery companies are losing money on orders. Eventually, that’s going to have to turn around, which could mean both higher fees and higher menu prices as everyone scrambles to cover the true cost of delivering a restaurant meal.

The risk of a COVID-19 pandemic and the associated news coverage suggests that Americans will likely be traveling and socializing less in the coming months, which means delivery everything could become even more attractive. For Big Delivery, that could equal big opportunity, from both growth and revenue standpoints. But as this piece makes clear, fees are high. And as we know: restaurants aren’t really seeing the profits.

There’s probably an opportunity here to be a true partner to a restaurant business that might start struggling if its dine-in numbers start dropping, though the true cost of delivering food in truly challenging times is still to be determined.


Expedite is produced by Kristen Hawley, a San Francisco-based journalist with over six years of experience covering the restaurant technology industry. Previous iterations of this content were available via Chefs+Tech and Skift Table. Thanks for reading.

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