The face-off is about not only the irrational commission charged by the FSAs, or the culture of discount hunting fostered by them. Katriar underlined the importance of restaurants regaining “the lost emotional connect between [them] and their patrons.” He said: “Every restaurant enjoyed an emotional connect with its guests. It seems to have been lost in the past few years. Guests have become nameless order numbers because their identities are being masked by the aggregators.”
The industry has four principal complaints against the ‘digital landlords’, who, they say, are “competing with us and not complementing us”:
They squeeze restaurants in a pincer action that involves both deep discounting and high marketing fees.
They hold back customer data, not allowing restaurants the twin benefits of customer data analytics and customer relationship management.
They charge a hefty commission – 25-30 per cent – per order delivered to a customer.
They give preferential treatment to their own private brands, such as Swiggy’s The Bowl Company and Homely.
The NRAI’s rallying cry has been: “Aggregators divide and conquer. We can unite and reclaim.” Its #OrderDirect initiative therefore seeks to achieve three objectives:
Own Your Customer Data: Have access to the history of each order and build a direct relationship with customers. Funnel the audience intelligence to make targeted offers. Become a ‘data masterchef’.
Go Live Everywhere: Handle all integrations with a single backend. Sign up once, and sell everywhere – from Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to Airtel and Jio. Multiple channels mean more choices for both restaurants and customers.
Choose Your Delivery Vendors: Integrate with delivery vendors of your choice and integrate them with your own fleet. Dependence on aggregators means that you have to use the delivery vendors of their choice and pay the price they demand.
The time has come, says the NRAI, to “disrupt the distorters.” And with the support of a host of first movers, from Domino’s and Taco Bell to Riyaaz Amlani’s Social and Aseem Grover’s The Big Chill, the association has shown how it is possible.