After years of selling customers on meal delivery, Deliveroo has entered the dine-in technology space, launching a new digital ordering service in a bid to capitalise on the demand for contact-free restaurants amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Called Table Service, the new product is an extension of the UK-headquartered company’s existing delivery app, and will allow customers to browse, order and pay at their local restaurants, pubs and cafes.
There will be no commission on dine-in orders for restaurants who use the service, which is being targeted at businesses trying to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
“Deliveroo wants to play a significant role in helping restaurants adopt tech-led solutions to reopen safely, particularly smaller partners who otherwise would be limited by technology and financial burdens to operate safely in this new environment,” Deliveroo Australia chief executive Ed McManus said in a statement.
Demand for contact-free ordering and payment software has increased across the hospitality sector as restaurants scramble to meet onerous COVIDSafe rules, requiring social distancing within small enclosed spaces.
But the move will push Deliveroo into more direct competition with an array of hospitality vendors already selling digital ordering options to restaurants, including startups such as me&u, Mr Yum and Hungry Hungry.
Many of these companies have emerged as a thorn in the side for multinational delivery platforms in recent years, actively building coalitions of disgruntled business owners complaining about high commissions charged by the platforms.
Restaurants have previously expressed frustration with a broader trend towards platform-enabled delivery, forcing businesses across the industry to overhaul their menus and pare back the size of their dining rooms — a shift the coronavirus crisis has accelerated.
Other startups such as Loghey and GuestCheck have more recently moved into the market as vendors for digital contact tracing services, looking to help restaurants comply with coronavirus rules.
Now Deliveroo, which has previously buttered its bread convincing customers to stay at home and order-in, will look to lend its software to digitising dining-in, leveraging a large existing user base to boost its expansion.
“While delivery has remained our core offering, expanding our service in new areas like Table Service helps us continue to support our restaurant partners through the COVID-19 period and beyond,” McManus said.
The prospect of a multinational platform moving into the dine-in technology space doesn’t worry HungryHungry co-founder Mark Calabro, who says it’s not a total surprise, given Deliveroo trialled a similar service in the UK earlier this year.
“We’re not worried at all. We feel we’re on a slightly different trajectory,” Calabro tells SmartCompany.
“More competition in the space is only going to make us push the boundaries of innovation and creativity.”
HungryHungry has been working with restaurant partners to create their own delivery services since the pandemic hit in March — a sign that technology vendors across the hospitality industry have been venturing into new territory in recent months.
“The beneficiaries are an industry that’s in dire need of help,” Calabro says about the impact of coronavirus restrictions on restaurants.
“The industry has grown up a lot in the last six months,” Calabro says.
“Restaurants will ultimately decide who they will allow to be featured in their venues.”