Pizza or Chinese, sushi or Indian? Deciding where to order food has always been a point of group contention. Michael DiBenedetto, founder and CEO of Bootler, was having just such an argument when he sensed a friction point in the food delivery industry and decided to do something about it.
One night while working late at a previous startup, DiBenedetto and his coworkers decided to order food. Of course, no one could agree on what to order — and, what’s more, comparing multiple restaurants and delivery services on the internet was proving to be a headache.
At some point he realized he had dozens of tabs opened to various food delivery websites. Thinking about how some other industries have websites that let consumers compare aggregated prices in real time, he thought there must be something out there that provided the same service for food delivery.
“It ended up not existing, and from there we ended up building what is today Bootler,” said DiBenedetto.
Founded in 2016, Bootler is an online marketplace modeled on the likes of travel aggregators Kayak.com and Trivago: it lets consumers compare delivery fees, times and services used by different restaurants all in one online location, and in real time.
In this week’s The Matchmaker Is In, DiBenedetto sat down with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster to talk about how Bootler is bringing customers together with delivery providers and restaurants. Listen to the full conversation in this week’s podcast.
Building A Brand
Bootler pursues an online-offline marketing strategy, said DiBenedetto. The company advertises through billboards, flyers, and public transit when entering new locations, and he says the company’s message really resonates with consumers.
“It’s really been about making sure our third-party sites have a very qualified, eager customer who wants to order, as well as giving customers the transparency about which restaurants work with what service, and what their delivery time and delivery fees are in real time,” said DiBenedetto on attracting users and suppliers to the Bootler platform. So far, it seems to be working.
“Right now we have about six or seven [providers] in our platform, and we’re adding significantly more in the next 4-6 weeks,” he continued. “A lot of third-party services have crossover in the services that they work with,” so partnering every restaurant or delivery provider in a given area doesn’t need to be a huge priority.
Consumer And Commercial Value
When a delivery service or restaurant joins Bootler, consumers can compare differences in delivery times and prices in real time, potentially leaving them at a disadvantage. So why would a provider want its information listed on the platform? DiBenedetto says there’s one simple answer: good customers.
A customer interested and invested enough to seek out an aggregator marketplace is a customer worth having, says DiBenedetto. “Someone that comes to our site, searches, then selects the restaurant they want and the service that goes with a given restaurant, when they check out on that end-partner site, they are very motivated and inclined to make that purchase,” he said.
Consumers, on the other hand, can expect a different kind of value: savings, both in money and time. Users on the platform decide what’s most important to them — whether that means eating fast, cheap or both — and select restaurants and delivery services according to their needs.
“For the exact same amount of food, if one service has a $12 delivery fee and the other service has a $3 delivery fee, we’re really saving consumers valuable money that can be spent in other areas of their lives,” said DiBenedetto. And if consumers prefer faster service over lower delivery fees, then the platform supports that, too.
Making Money As A Marketplace
Bootler doesn’t have a delivery fleet and doesn’t involve itself in the delivery process, imagining itself primarily as a marketing and technology company. Because of that, the firm can expand into new markets and geographies in the space of a day, says DiBenedetto. Additionally, the company has no need for “boots on the ground” when expanding into new markets. As long as a partner delivery service is active in a region, Bootler can be there too.
Just because the company doesn’t provide a delivery fleet doesn’t mean it can’t make money from the process, however. Bootler is “a very valuable marketing tool for our delivery partners,” said DiBenedetto, and providers pay to be on the platform.
The price and the means of getting listed on the platform depend on the individual partner, he said. Whether that means a monthly charge or a fraction of delivery revenue is contingent on a given agreement between Bootler and individual providers or restaurants, which is another feature Bootler modeled on its travel aggregator inspirations.
The Future Of Food Delivery
When asked about the future of the online food delivery space, DiBenedetto had this to say: “I think delivery prices will continue to vary because of the cost of delivery drivers and how things have gotten more expensive. Which again, is a value to customers.”
But he wasn’t willing to limit Bootler’s ambitions exclusively to online food delivery.
“Our ultimate goal when I originally pitched this to some investors was: it’s an on-demand price comparison search engine that starts with online food-ordering,” he said. The company could “expand to groceries, expand to meal kits, for example. It really is all-encompassing, it can help customers in all different verticals to discover new options.”
“As we expand to more verticals, there’s definitely going to be a value for the customer, the third-party delivery service, the restaurant — and when we expand to grocery it would be to the customer, the delivery service and the grocer, in that example.”