Today, online ordering app Ritual announced the U.S. launch of Ritual ONE, its online order platform that lets restaurants host and process digital orders through their own websites rather than using a third-party delivery service. That includes takeout, curbside pickup, delivery, and other off-premises formats, according to a press release sent to The Spoon.
The Ritual ONE tool will first be available in the U.S. to restaurants in Chicago, IL.
Based in Toronto, Ontario, Ritual’s order-ahead app has up to now been mostly geared towards the office lunchtime crowd, allowing workers in the same office or location to piggy back off one another’s orders.
Ritual ONE actually integrates directly into a restaurant’s main system, effectively becoming a piece of the business’s tech stack, rather than an add-on that has to managed separately. For businesses that are not already online, Ritual can create a customizable menu.
Ritual created its Ritual ONE service in response to the COVID-19’s devastating impact on the restaurant industry. The tool is actually a joint effort by Ritual and the City of Toronto. Through it, restaurants can accept digital orders through their own digital properties, rather than having to go through a third-party delivery service like DoorDash or Uber Eats to process delivery and pickup orders (though they would in most cases have to use those services for the last mile of delivery).
Lower commission fees is the big selling point here. Typically Ritual charges restaurants a $49 monthly fee for each location for Ritual ONE. However, given the ongoing state of the restaurant industry, the company noted in today’s announcement that “any current or new Ritual customers in the Chicago area will receive the service for free for life if they sign up by July 10.”
That, too, could be a major selling point. One of the major beefs with third-party delivery is the staggering commission rate those services extract from restaurants — up to 30 percent of each transaction, in some cases. Small and/or independent restaurants, in particular, can have their bottom lines decimated by such fees. The shift towards more off-premises orders has only made the issue worse, since restaurants that could previously get by on dining room sales are now forced to offer takeout and delivery. Usually, that means working with third-party services and handing over those hefty commission fees.
Helping restaurants bypass those fees, at least in part, is something many restaurant tech companies say they can do nowadays. Toast, ChowNow, and others have all made announcements for restaurant tech packs that gets rid of the high commission fees charged by third-party delivery services. Though no one yet has gone as far as to promise free software for life, as Ritual just did. That could be incentive enough for restaurants to try the service out as they struggle to find ways to meet the new expectations around off-premises orders.