With 20% of consumers now using it at least once per week, food delivery is definitely catching on. As usage continues to increase, however, there is growing discontent with these third-party services. More and more firms are finding that allowing third parties to interact with their customers on their behalf can be toxic for their brands.
Third party aggregators decrease a firm’s autonomous control over its user experience—and therefore its brand. For quick-serve restaurants, where the physical space plays a huge role in defining the brand’s values, delivery disconnects the customer from every aspect of the brand except for the food and prevent vital brand-to-consumer interactions.
At best, decreased interaction with consumers is just that—decreased interaction. At worst, third-party aggregators can actively damage a brand’s reputation. Advertising industry executive Nick Powills, CEO of NLA, used a personal story about one particularly bad food ordering experience to illustrate this worst-case scenario. When food he’d ordered through a delivery service app had yet to arrive ten minutes after the scheduled delivery time, Powills called the restaurant directly. They told him it had been sitting—ready and waiting for a delivery driver—for over ten minutes. One driver cancellation, multiple calls to the app, a terrible customer service experience, and an hour and a half later, the food was finally delivered—to the neighbor’s house. The restaurant, through no fault of its own, will now forever be associated with this terrible experience.
This threat of subpar third-party service is not limited to the restaurant industry. In 2004, InterContinental Hotels Group found third-party websites were hurting its brand and prohibited them from offering hotel reservations on their websites. Practices like listing sold-out properties, adding hidden fees, and using “bait and switch” tactics led to customer complaints about the booking process. According to then-SVP Jim Young, hotel guests associated these hassles with the hotels themselves—not the booking sites. When it is all said and done, he explained, “customers complain about problems during the booking process not to the online booking service, but...to the hotel when they arrive.”
Selling through a third-party aggregator means exposing your brand to a sucker punch—it takes a hit every time the experience fails to live up to brand standards, even if your company isn’t at fault. Creating lasting, positive connections with consumers is crucially important to long-term success. Smart firms are working to earn and strengthen these relationships, not allowing third parties to mess them up.
 https://www.statista.com/statistics/259191/ordering-takeout-delivery-from-restaurants-in-the-us/; https://www.axios.com/ubereats-uber-ipo-valuation-fb086af6-4d57-4518-abbb-39c6a1b600e5.html; https://techcrunch.com/2018/09/18/postmates-funding/