How do you become the best in your field? We asked our client Sander Kole, Director IT at Takeaway.com what hurdles the company had to take from the time they started to where they are now: an international market leader for the online food ordering and delivery industry.
Sander: “It all began 20 years ago. A time in which you had to dial in via a modem to access the internet. Jitse Groen (CEO and founder) was studying at the Technical University Twente and wanted to order food online at a party. But once online, he found no restaurants offered such a service. From this basic need, the idea of connecting restaurants and consumers via the website Thuisbezorgd.nl was born.”
Over the years, consumers in all parts of the world have become familiar with the notion of searching, ordering, and paying online. Sander:
“Nowadays, people don’t have much time. That’s why they appreciate the convenience of ordering food online via our platform. Our main focus is to make this as smooth and convenient as possible for the consumer, empowering our partner restaurants to focus on their core passion: making good food. Simply to do everything possible to make life easier for our customers: consumers and restaurants.”
“Today we connect millions of consumers and over 50,000 restaurants in 11 countries for this convenient service. This platform process has grown gradually. It didn't happen overnight. From going door-to-door to ask restaurants to sign up 20 years ago, restaurants are now signing up themselves digitally to join the platform.
This connects them instantly to approximately 19.5 million active consumers via the web and our app. In the Netherlands, a restaurant receives on average approximately 4,200 paid orders per year. This equates to an average of $100,000 in annual revenue for each restaurant. We see both the orders placed online and the value per order rising.
Which benefits both of us: restaurants pay us 12-13% commission over the value of the orders.”
“Once consumers place the order, the order goes straight to the restaurants. We provide special tooling for the restaurants in order to accept the order by pressing a button. They need to do so within two minutes. If not, they receive a call from our call center to confirm. As a result, we can immediately inform the consumer via SMS that the order has been received. This is very important because we learned that people – especially first-time buyers – tend to contact us or the restaurant. They are in doubt whether the service works and the restaurant actually received the order and is preparing the meal.
We removed that friction with a quick SMS to save time and money. An SMS notification truly adds value here,” Sanders says.
“Another question consumers often have, relates to the delivery time: at what time does my order arrive? That’s why restaurants need to indicate in what time slot they expect to deliver the order. With a second SMS, we inform them about the time of arrival. And we now also work on one SMS including both confirmation and delivery time thanks to algorithms and big data to make sound estimations.”
“Why we chose to add SMS is kind of a funny story. We partnered with a company in Vietnam, which was actually owned by a Dutchman who started the online food ordering company after having seen Thuisbezorgd.nl in the Netherlands. They made sure people were notified through SMS, right after they placed an order. We took over the idea of SMS, just not the unreliable SMS service they used. We made sure quality SMS was installed there,” Sander laughs. “This way the idea of SMS was adopted to inform all our consumers that their order is received and when it will be delivered.”
“We’ve learned so much. After our success in the Netherlands, we thought we could easily copy our idea to Belgium. However, in Belgium, two languages are spoken, so it was not possible to instantly work with the existing website, apps, and back-end. You need patience to grow. Over time, acquisitions became important to us to become the market leaders in a specific country. The acquisition of Lieferando in Germany in 2014 was such an example to take a giant step forward. We decided to continue with our ‘one company, one brand, and one IT-platform’ approach. This allows us to be more scalable as a company and gives us the edge in competition.”
“Any process change or addition needs to be scalable but also of the best quality. Both SMS and our calls are used on a global scale. That is also where CM.com comes in. We inform millions of consumers effectively about their food orders via SMS, using the CM.com SMS Gateway.
The most reliable and fastest way to reach everyone via mobile phone. An easy choice to inform our consumers proactively and to avoid the need to contact us and worry about their order. And it saves us time and money in the end.”
Approximately 10,000 calls per day go via CM.com’s SIP Trunking. Sander: “The quality of CM.com’s SIP Trunk can be compared with traditional telephone connections based on ISDN. It connects the entire telephone environment of Takeaway.com with the public telephone network (PSTN) which also saves us approximately 40% in call costs per year.”
“We have been working together with CM.com for years now and we have never had any issues with regards to SMS or Voice. When did I ever have to call you to say something is wrong? Never! CM.com simply offers the best quality we can find and being the best quality platform is very important for us.”
“Well, a growing number of consumers are still discovering how much easier it is to order online. We also see more people are ordering during lunch hours. There is so much more growth to come. With more countries, more restaurants, more consumers, and more orders we have to continue to innovate our platform to ensure that all food orders will be delivered all around the same peak hours,” says Sander. “We always see options for further improvement.
We now have a team of nearly 500 passionate colleagues who are continuously optimizing the technical processes, integrating new food ordering companies, creating new features and services, and innovating the customer journey. I often get a call or text message saying ‘hey Sander I got this great idea to make something in the process better, different. Like improving the process for restaurants to sign up more easily.
For this, we are looking into new products like CM Sign from CM.com. Or to optimize the customer journey with richer messaging solutions such as RCS in Germany, which is being tested using CM.com in Germany. Also, we are currently testing new ways of ordering via voice solutions, to make ordering easier. We first test this locally and then scale it up globally. Again, using the most scalable solutions and the best quality. We stick to our passion: do everything we can for our customers. And that apparently is how we keep on growing.”
The online food delivery sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the tech industry. The total valuation of companies engaged in restaurant food delivery likely tops $100 billion. Takeaway.com is market leader in Continental Europe and Israel.
The interview took place just before the merger with Just Eat.
• Founded in 2000: Jitse Groen founded Thuisbezorgd.nl (The Netherlands), now CEO at Takeaway.com
• Listed on Euronext since 2016
• Market leader in online food ordering and delivery in Continental Europe and Israel
• Employees: 5,400 full-time employees
• Revenue: ~$500,000,000
• Users (restaurants): 53,000
• Active consumers: 19,500,000
• Digital orders per year: >150,000,000
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