Third-party deliverers counter restaurants with loyalty programs of their own

Restaurants are hoping to wean delivery customers off third parties’ ordering apps, but the services aren’t shrugging off the challenge.  A number of the giants are fighting back with loyalty boosters straight out of Restaurant Marketing 101. 

Several, including Yelp, have already adopted payback programs that reward customers for repeat business. In the case of Yelp, its Cash Back program extends givebacks in a fashion that would be familiar to members of a restaurant rewards program.

Uber generated headlines in Europe when it revealed that a loyalty program for its restaurant-meal delivery service had been quietly tested in the United Kingdom. 

Toussaint Wattinne, country manager of Uber Eats U.K., told Business Insider at the time that company concluded it would get a higher return from other sorts of investments. But “it doesn't mean we won't look into that,” he said.

Another big player, DoorDash, is following restaurants’ lead in adopting giveback programs. The delivery specialist’s Project Dash, or DoorDash Acts for Sustainability and Hunger, announced this week that it has donated 1.8 million meals with the help of its restaurant partners and is on track to provide 8 million free meals by year’s end.

In addition to encouraging meal donations, Project Dash is aiming to cut food waste by encouraging restaurants to donate food that would otherwise be thrown out.

Amazon watchers noted with interest this week that the retail giant continues to tweak its Prime membership program, increasing the stickiness by raising the annual fee and extending new benefits to Whole Foods shoppers. The Prime service allows members to order instant delivery of restaurant meals and ready-to-eat items from Whole Foods.

The efforts come as many restaurant chains are striving to promote the use of their proprietary ordering apps instead of the ordering platforms of parties that aggregate restaurant delivery choices. Those systems charge a commission typically ranging from 18 to 30%, and have gathered a following of their own.

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