Investors Bet Restaurant Apps Beat the Aggregators

Investors Bet Restaurant Apps Beat the Aggregators

Today, technologies that can offer restaurants the tools they need to hold their own in the digital ordering space against third-party aggregators are highly in demand among operators, and investors are taking note.

Multinational ResTech company Flipdish announced in a Thursday (Jan. 13) press release that, with its new $100 million investment, its valuation has risen to $1.25 billion, reaching unicorn status.

“Digitization has been transforming the hospitality sector for years,” Flipdish Co-Founder and CEO Conor McCarthy said in the release. “The ongoing pandemic has further accelerated the trend with hospitality businesses becoming increasingly dependent on digital experiences to attract and retain customers. Our investment will help us to empower more hospitality businesses around the world to grow with the best-in-class technology.”

The company’s technology enables ordering and payment through QR codes, off-premise digital ordering, kiosks and rewards, among other capabilities.

The Context

Across the restaurant industry, with eateries scrambling to meet consumers’ new expectations of frictionless convenience, tech companies are rushing to promise operators an all-in-one solution that will unify their disparate digital needs. Point-of-sale (POS) systems have been getting into kitchen display systems and digital order taking, while ordering platforms have been adding delivery logistics tools and loyalty programs.

These tools are especially important for restaurants after the surge in third-party aggregator use during the early months of the pandemic exposed the drawbacks of the model. Restaurants were forced to divert a significant share of their profits and sacrifice crucial user data. Companies that allow restaurants to manage their own digital presences offer eateries the opportunity to control their omnichannel business.

By the Numbers

While some of the features that companies such as Flipdish are promising are of central importance to today’s consumers, others are less necessary. Research from this month’s edition of PYMNTS’ Digital Divide study, “The Digital Divide Report: Minding The Loyalty Gap,” created in collaboration with Paytronix, found that while loyalty programs and online ordering capabilities matter the most to restaurant customers, features such as QR codes and self-service kiosks are less of a priority.

See also: Restaurants Compete to Make Loyalty Programs Stand out as Consumers Join Multiple Programs

What Insiders Are Saying

“Restaurants often have this misplaced reputation to be slow adopters of technology, and we’ve seen just the opposite — the restaurant partners we … work with are incredibly innovative and receptive to new technologies, platforms and ideas,” Ken Chong, co-founder and CEO at restaurant solutions provider All Day Kitchens and former product manager at Uber, told PYMNTS in an interview. “So, we’ve just seen a rush of excitement in terms of … really pushing the boundaries of what they can do and how they think about serving their customers digitally.”

Read more: Virtual Kitchens Put Restaurants in Control of Menus, Digital Presence

Looking ahead, even providing a seamless omnichannel experience will not be enough to set a restaurant apart.

“I think the bar will continue to raise in terms of guests wanting that personal experience, and then I think that the winners in five years will be those who can really differentiate their experience beyond that,” Steph So, head of Digital Experience at Shake Shack, told PYMNTS in an interview. “Frictionless will be absolute table stakes.”

See more: Shake Shack Sees Digital Experience Driven by Dynamic Kitchens