In the restaurant sector, the pandemic saw the aggregator platforms Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat claim near total domination of the market. Lockdown meant that businesses were suddenly only able to transact with customers through the software layer provided by these third parties, who connected the restaurant to the delivery driver and then to the customer and took a tidy slice of the profits along the way.
While this was in some way a symbiotic relationship, with the aggregators providing the only way for restaurants to continue operating, it wasn’t exactly a win-win. Customers who used an aggregator app to order from their favourite local pizzeria would then have all that restaurant’s local competitors promoted to them the next time they went to order.
Suddenly, the aggregators had taken ownership of the restaurant's customer base and were in control of that relationship. Some of the big players in the sector, obviously not happy with this arrangement, began to invest heavily in their own digital capability, to take ownership of their customer data back.
McDonalds, who had previously relied on UberEats to get their products to customers, have rapidly pivoted to a digital first service model, with an app for ordering food and digital touch screen menus in their restaurants, where customers can log in and collect loyalty points
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
This approach enables them not just to own and control their relationship with customers, but also provides them with huge amounts of powerful data to develop their marketing and product capabilities.
This idea of owning more of your relationship with your customer base is of course not sector specific. Something we talk to our clients about a lot is the need to create channels and build experiences where businesses can nurture relationships and transact with their customers.
WORK IN PRACTICE
SMEG’s revenue took a huge hit in the pandemic when physical stores closed. They were beholden to wholesalers to sell their products online. SMEG were not in control of the channel and were unable to drive preference for their products.
UNRVLD has rapidly delivered a digital store where SMEGUK can sell direct to consumers: their first owned e-store in the UK. The global luxury goods brand is investing in a fully owned digital experience, in-line with the business ambition to grow direct consumer revenue in the coming years.
Within months of launch it is already seen by the business as a primary channel. It is somewhere they can build brand preference and it offers significant upsell opportunities - you’ve got the fridge, now get the toaster. It also enables SMEG to capture first party data about their customers and provide them with a more personalised experience, which in turns breeds greater brand loyalty. View the full case study here.