Toronto, Canada-based mobile app Ritual, which lets users order ahead for restaurant pickup food, announced this week it is expanding service to Germany, The Netherlands, and Hong Kong.
The new markets are just the latest in what’s been a steady expansion for the company ever since it started rolling out service to the U.S. in 2017. In January, the company expanded to the UK and Australia, and said it expected to triple its restaurant count by the end of 2019.
Like many restaurant-focused mobile apps, Ritual lets users browse participating restaurants, order ahead, leave special instructions (no pickles please!), and pay within the app. On top of those fairly standard offerings, it has a few features that help it stand out from the crowd.
For one, it’s geared towards the lunchtime office crowd in a big way, thanks to a social feature baked into the app called Piggyback. Workers in the same office or location can gather within the app and decide on a restaurant. They can then choose when to order food, place their orders, and designate a person to go and pick the meal up. The app stores past orders, making it easy for teams to reorder entire meals. So if Fried Chicken Friday is a thing for your team and you want to spend less time collecting everyone’s orders, Ritual’s the app for that.
Ritual is also a way for smaller and/or independent restaurants to test off-premises ordering. The app’s pickup-only focus makes it cheaper for restaurants to participate (no drivers to pay), so they can easily gauge how much their customers want off-premises orders and which meals work best in a to-go environment.
So far Ritual has raised a total of $112.9 million, its last round being a $70 million Series C in June 2018. According to the press release, the service is now available in over 50 cities, including its new markets. The addition of Germany, Hong Kong, and The Netherlands also marks the start of the company’s goal to expand to a greater number of non-English-speaking markets in future.
Its push to European countries comes at a time when the food delivery and pickup market on that continent is seeing some serious competition. In July of this year, third-party aggregators Just Eat and Takeaway.com merged to form one of the largest restaurant-delivery services in the world. Both already had a significant presence in Europe prior to the merger. In the same month, Just Eat also acquired UK-based corporate catering marketplace City Pantry, a service that also appeals to the office crowd. And amid much competition, Deliveroo pulled out of Germany in August.
As I mentioned above, though, the simplicity of Ritual’s app could make it appealing to restaurants that can’t or don’t want to fork over fees associated with some of those other apps. The big question around Ritual’s expansion, which is yet to be answered in these new markets, is if a pickup-only app is enough to compete in today’s delivery-crazed food world.