Online ordering system Ritual has teamed up with New York City to offer restaurants in the Big Apple access to its platform for delivery and pickup orders at no extra cost. The deal is part of the second phase of New York’s Empire State Digital Initiative, which is providing support for restaurants and foodservice industry businesses impacted by Covid. Restaurants can use the Ritual platform free of charge from now until April 2021, according to a statement from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Ritual brought its online order platform to the U.S. earlier this year. The software plugs into a restaurant’s main system and enables the business to process delivery and takeout orders through its own website, rather than those of the major third-party delivery platforms. It’s another example in the recent wave of technologies dedicated to native and/or hybrid ordering, where restaurants get to manage orders through their own digital properties and need only rely on Grubhub, DoorDash, and others for things like the last mile of delivery.
Right now, with the pandemic numbers still rising and indoor dining once again banned in NYC, cutting away at least some of third-party delivery’s control over the restaurant industry is important for a couple of reasons. For one, it lets restaurants own their interactions, and therefore the data on those interactions, with customers. Most importantly, decreasing reliance on delivery apps also diminishes the commission fees restaurants must pay. As we discuss ad infinitum here at The Spoon, those fees are highly controversial because they can stretch as high as 30 percent per transaction, further decimating what little margins restaurants have left (if any).
NYC imposed mandatory caps on these commission fees several months ago. However, the city also just shut indoor dining down once more in an effort to curb the spread of the pandemic. This time, the shutdown is indefinite, with some calling it a “death blow” to businesses, especially the independent ones. Once again, restaurants have to rely on delivery and takeout as their only channels for business.
Ritual’s commission-free order platform may not be able to save every business, but it could quite possibly pull a few back from the brink by saving them a little money that would otherwise go towards lining the pockets of DoorDash et al.
For restaurants that join the platform through the Empire State Digital Initiative, Ritual will waive setup, subscription, and some credit-card processing fees.