Updated: May 6, 2020
Thinking about ordering online and supporting your local business? Before you click that button, it's important to double check if that's a Third-Party site you're about to click.
After sitting in front of our TV's for as long as we have during this crisis, you may note the numerous ads by Doordash, Grubhub, and even UberEats. These ads pull at our heartstrings by reminding us to "support" our small business restaurants. It's nice. It's a very sweet sentiment. It's the kind of idea one would think your local business would greatly appreciate. These large companies galvanize us with a call to action to order through their sites to help support our local businesses...such as our own here at Celebrity Delly. The sad truth is in the end, Doordash, Grubhub, & UberEats are all just boosting their profits while leaving our industry with nothing but scraps. In specific, DoorDash charges 30% in commission. Then there is Grubhub, there's is a little more manageable at 15% commission. UberEats recently realized after years of charging 30% commission rates while trying to maintain a broken delivery system, to start charging 15% commission rates if the store provided their own drivers, and if not, they would go back to their 30% commission rates on the fly with a flick of a switch on their back office platforms. With this information brought to light, who are these third-party apps really supporting..."Cui bono"?
Many businesses, such as ourselves, have used these platforms because there is no other option when it comes to reaching out to a broader audience. When these Third-Party sites have the monetary means to put in huge commercials, who is going to notice your local business amongst the noise? Other small businesses have no knowledge of website building nor the social media savvy to protect themselves from the shuttering of their doors.The best a small business can do is try and write these commissions off as a marketing fee to get their name out there. But with the COVID-19 crisis in full swing, these large corporations are proving the old adage remains true..."when there is blood in the streets, buy property!" In this case, it's buying ad time and letting the little guy be crushed under its commission fees. Now, we get that if there is opportunity and you can see it, it's important to use it to your full benefit when dealing in business. But when these Third-Party sites pander to the masses, during a crisis, with a sly smile saying, "your orders will help support your local businesses", remember they are the very cause of why many restaurants are going under. It's incumbent upon us to possibly rethink using these sites.
In mid-March Matt Maloney, the Founder & CEO of Grubhub, came out with an impassioned email to all of their subscribers and businesses. On it's face, it seems like the kind of letter which one would read and feel as though this company is really looking out for the little guy...perhaps I should order through this company. But if we read closer, the wording is quite misleading.
Their version of "stepping up" to help their partners is by deferring their commissions until AFTER the crisis ends and then requiring the businesses to pay back the deferred commissions with 4 installment payments 2 weeks after the end of the crisis. Some businesses have quadrupled their online business through these sites. So by deferring their fees through this crisis, Grubhub in specific, is putting out all kinds of advertising to get you, our loyal and wonderful patrons, to purchase food through their site under the guise of being a noble company.
The question therefore remains, how do I really help my local small business?
Here are the steps you can take to help small businesses.
If you must order online, do the following:
Call in and ask! It's a sure fire way to make sure 100% of your order goes to your local small business.
Double check your favorite local business's website and see if there seems to be a third-party site to which you are transferred. As stated before, many mom & pop shops have no other recourse than to use a third-party app. They would never turn down an order at this time, so if there is no other option available to you, use the third-party app unless you are able to call in the order.
When you go to their website, if it seems you are redirected to another site sometimes this is the business's online ordering platform. With Celebrity Delly & Catering, we use the Wix site builder which is 100% ours, yet our URL may transfer over to what seems like a "wix.app" site. In this case, Wix has provided us with an application that is solely owned by us and comes with our membership.
If you can venture out, please do so and order directly from the shop. We miss seeing people whether your face is covered or not. Without fresh blood walking through that door, we start thinking our own jokes are funny.
If you are a small business, how can you combat Third-Party leeching? You TOO have your own site but must use third-party sites to get your name out there...what can you do?
Sometimes, the old ways are the best! Print fliers and pamphlets with discounts and incentives for your own new online ordering platform and place these pamphlets inside your Third-Party's carry-out bags. They can be the best distribution system for your own product.
Get aggressive with your social media presence. Listen, you wouldn't be in business if you didn't have good food. Branding yourself with great photos of your food and sharing that on Facebook or Instagram can really be a boon to your business.
Record a message on your phone system to note that the best way to support your local business is by ordering on the phone or your new online ordering platform. A welcome message is the surest way to get people's attention and making sure you get your message out there.
The thing to remember out of all of this is yes, support your local business. But be smart or 30% of your hard earned money during these times may just be going to the biggest company rather than supporting your small business you love.