As foodservice operations cast off the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are saddled with high commission fees charged by third-party delivery apps. These fees not only consume a chunk of their already meager margins but are also eating away at the personal relationship the restaurants should have with their customer base.
To help restaurants and foodservice businesses remain viable and visible, ChowNow, an online food ordering platform, offers restaurants a range of digital tools and services, marketing support, and access to valuable customer data.
Independent restaurants have been especially hard hit as they struggle to meet the high demand of off-premises dining – a habit which became routine for diners during the pandemic. The problem is further compounded by the fact that these delivery apps have teamed up to sue the City of New York for the right to maintain their high commission fees per order. “This sends a very clear signal of their intent to continuously increase their commission charges over time,” said Chris Webb, ChowNow’s Co-Founder and CEO.
ChowNow’s model is particularly attractive to restaurant operators as it helps streamline online ordering as well as increase their visual presence with different marketing tactics. According to Webb, their platform “is the future of the industry.”
ChowNow offers three standalone products. ChowNow Direct includes a full suite of online ordering software for the restaurant at prices ranging from $129-$199 a month depending on subscription length. Restaurants get their own branded mobile app, membership loyalty program, ordering on their website, plus automated marketing.
An overview of ChowNow’s current products:
- ChowNow Direct: a transparent, subscription-based model for online ordering with optional add-ons like professional photoshoots and website creation. ChowNow Direct is commission-free and restaurants own all of their customer data.
- ChowNow Marketplace: Chow-Now’s national, commission-free app and website that allows restaurants to keep 100% of their profits. It is free for any local or independent restaurant to sign up and be listed on the app.
- ChowNow Order Better Network: the industry’s first product to connect restaurants to over a dozen diverse channels for delivery and takeout, including Google, Yelp, OpenTable and Snapchat, so restaurants can maximize their online footprint without costly setup fees and time.
ChowNow restaurant partners are paired with Restaurant Success Managers who guide the operator through online menu structuring and positioning to increase sales. The company also offers effective marketing tools suited to individual foodservice type and location. “It’s an all-in-one package that makes it easy to get up and running,” Webb explained.
Webb and his team recognized more than ten years ago that online ordering would become an industry staple. The necessity of this service took on greater meaning at the height of the pandemic when it witnessed its highest growth. And though the numbers have fallen below the May 2020 high, current takeout demands remain higher than pre-pandemic levels. ChowNow’s solution has not only focused on positioning restaurants to escape the 20 – 40 percent delivery commissions but has also brought transparency and partnership to the table, and most importantly, control.
ChowNow’s goal is to give restaurants control over their takeout business, customer database, menus, prices, and delivery zones. “We want to help restaurants take back control of their businesses and online ordering decisions, especially in a landscape that often makes choices that are not beneficial for independent
restaurants,” said Webb.
ChowNow does not provide delivery personnel but does enable its restaurant partners to add delivery services. Most deliveries on ChowNow are done by restaurants and staff, “…which I think is the best way of doing it. You get this kind of inside knowledge. There’s accountability. There’s association with the restaurant, the brand, and the customer base,” said Webb.
ChowNow also offers restaurants the ability to work with a third-party delivery courier. ChowNow restaurant partners are able to determine the pricing model that works best for them when it comes to courier fees and splitting costs with restaurant customers. ChowNow asks their restaurant partners not to inflate the cost of menu items as is customary on the third-party delivery apps but to display their in-store price on their app, ChowNow Marketplace, since no commission is required, offering a better experience for both restaurant and diner.
Because they do not charge commissions, Webb estimates that they have been able to save restaurants around $470M – money that would have been paid as fees to different third party delivery companies.
Over the last decade, ChowNow’s clientele has grown to more than 20,000 restaurants and over the last ten years, they have processed more than 168 million takeout orders. ChowNow has quickly become an industry favorite.
For those interested in learning more, visit their website
(Chris Webb photo by Erin Doll, Takeout photo by Grant Puckett)