We want to control the experience

Sandwich-maker Jimmy John is positioning itself as the first national restaurant chain to come out publicly against third-party delivery apps like Uber Eats, GrubHub, and Door Dash. The company unveiled a new marketing campaign Thursday in which it vows never to use delivery apps, calling them notoriously unreliable, and lauding itself for bucking an industry trend.

“We want to control the experience from the fresh prep to the hand off to the customer,” said James North, CEO of Jimmy John’s, in a statement.

Food delivery has exploded into a multibillion-dollar industry in recent years, thanks to the increasing popularity of apps like Uber Eats and GrubHub. The $13 billion third-party food delivery market is projected to grow at a 13.5 percent annual rate, but Jimmy John’s says customers are being left in the lurch.

The sandwich chain commissioned a poll from Boston Consulting to gauge public opinion on third-party apps, and the results were less than favorable.

Thirty-five percent of customers who have used such delivery services say they have experienced a problem with their deliveries. Seventy-six percent hold the restaurant itself at least partially responsible for any errors. Ninety-two percent of customers expect their food deliveries within 15 to 30 minutes of placing an order, while the largest delivery services average 49-minute delivery times.

Having identified its enemy, Jimmy John’s now plans to expressly market itself as the anti-delivery app sandwich shop. The company is putting up billboards and posting videos online showcasing tweets from dissatisfied customers of third-party food delivery companies. The message is that Jimmy John’s uses its own drivers and couriers — the company along with its franchisees employ approximately 45,000 drivers at over 2,800 locations — to deliver its “freaky fresh” sandwiches.

It may be a good look for a marketing campaign, but Jimmy John’s is potentially missing out on major profits by turning its back on delivery apps. Take McDonald’s, for example: the mega-chain has been delivering since 2017, when it launched a partnership with Uber Eats. According to a recent earnings call, 19,000 McDonald’s restaurants globally offer delivery, making it a $3 billion business for both international and domestic stores. CEO Steve Easterbook noted the company will make delivery a “high priority” in 2019.

And just today, Taco Bell announced the launch of nationwide delivery through GrubHub and a limited-time free delivery promotion for orders $12 or more. The fast food chain said the service was “designed for an even faster experience” by integrating its point-of-sale system onto the GrubHub mobile food-ordering app.

Meanwhile, delivery apps are evolving to better meet the needs of its two customer bases: users and restaurants. Uber Eats, for example, recently began allowing some restaurants in New York City and Manchester, England, to use their own in-house delivery workers, rather than Uber’s workforce of freelance drivers and couriers.

The food delivery space is incredibly difficult and intensely competitive. Several food delivery startups have folded in recent years. That said, it could prove troublesome to Uber Eats and GrubHub’s respective growth plans if other restaurants follow Jimmy John’s lead. As those delivery apps look to grow into less dense, more suburban communities, they’ll need to work with the big national chains that are typically found there. And that means addressing complaints about quality and efficiency.



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