Catch of the Day’s expansion into an online empire has continued with the addition of a new site that allows customers to order and pay for restaurant bookings and deliveries over the internet.
The new website, EatNow.com.au, has users search by postcode for nearby restaurants. They can order online via credit cards or PayPal, and can leave reviews as well. The site, founded by entrepreneur Matt Dyer, has been combined with TakeAways.com.au and MyTable.com.au to form the new service.
It’s a departure from the company’s strategy of building add-ons internally, but group chief executive Paul Reining says he thinks of Catch of the Day’s current plan as a mixture of both.
“As much from the outside it seems like it’s one or the other, the beauty of my role is that we’ve been able to think about that strategy and form it,” Reining says.
“Once you have the backbone of a business set up, it’s very easy to build on that. And we have brilliant people internally…and we provide a good opportunity for sites to come and get scale.”
“Call it an acquisition, call it an M&A, call it whatever. We’re still providing the same opportunities.”
The move is a “logical” one, Reining argues, considering the business has spent the last few years dealing with merchants through its Scoopon venture.
“We’re very good at serving local customers,” he says.
But although the website is simple enough, the infrastructure involved is quite extensive. Catch of the Day has provided hardware to the more than 1,000 restaurants involved in the site, acting as a type of mobile point of sale system.
When users make an order, the information is sent from Catch to the restaurant and is printed using a dedicated device. When the order is confirmed, the information is sent back and a text message is sent to the customer.
It’s a capital expense Reining says “isn’t ideal”, but he says the company’s product sourcing experience helped it get a good price.
“It’s worthwhile to make the experience a better one. The only other option was manual interaction, and that’s not a good experience for the user.”
Bringing Matt Dyer on was a good move, he says, as it allowed the company to work with someone who already had experience in the field – much like the company did with its wine and baby chains launched this year.
“It’s been good to get involved with Matt, and see his successful track record and really be able to capitalise on that opportunity,” he says.
Reining said the next challenges will involve signing up more restaurants to the website and gaining scale.