As Seamless and GrubHub merge, online orders continue to dominate New York
The two giants in online food ordering merged Monday, as GrubHub and Seamless became one massive company that hopes to expand its footprint and become ubiquitous nationwide.
Seamless, which is based in New York, and GrubHub had a combined $875 million in takeout sales last year, resulting in more than $100 million in revenue, and they hope that their pooled resources will allow them reach even further, officials said in a statement.
"Both companies also share a strong commitment to provide world-class service to restaurants, diners and corporate clients," said Jonathan Zabusky, CEO of Seamless. "This merger is an opportunity to glean the best from each platform and improve upon what we bring to all of our partners."
The companies have goals of nationwide dominance, but online ordering in New York City has long been commonplace, all but supplanting the archaic phone orders of yesteryear.
"Online ordering has become an indispensible asset for many restaurants here," said Andrew Moesel of the New York State Restaurant Association. "Services like Seamless can increase a restaurants' volume to the point where it may change the dynamic in some restaurants and shift thecustomer experience."
Moesel added: "Soon businesses won't be able to afford not to be online."
Indeed, some eateries in the city are already adapting their business models around online ordering. Pizza da Solo, a high-end Kosher takeout pizzeria that opened up three months in midtown, baked in online ordering to its very business model.
"We've really relied on online ordering. People really don't call on their phone anymore to place their orders," said Marissa Rosenberg, marketing director of Prime Hospitality Group, which owns the spot, adding that pizzeria has an employee dedicated solely to handling online orders.
"They want to do this in the easiest and fastest possible way and online ordering is the best way for that," she said. Rosenberg added that of the 50 or so the pizzeria takes per few, maybe five or seven are byphone.
Spencer Rubin, co-founder of artisanal grilled cheese joint Melt Shop with locations in midtown and Chelsea, said that online orders make up about a third of all sales and reaches as high as 50% during the winter.
"We didn't have Seamless when we first launched, but as soon as you turn it on, it just opens the floodgates," Rubin said. "All of the those things that happen from a call-in order, like being put on hold or whateverelse can happen, they just aren't part of th experience."
Still, Rubin said phone orders are a bit more lucrative, as online services take a cut between 5% and 15% of orders, and that numbers increases as volume increase. But that sacrifice is worth the market the restaurant can now reach.
"We're doing more business, but they charge us more. But at the same time, they're bringing us to a whole new marketplace," Rubin said. "So it's painful at times, but they offer a level of exposure you can't get otherwise."
But for some New Yorkers, all that matters is how quickly and conveniently they can get their food.
"Seamless saves all your information and remembers all your previous orders, so you can locate those great Italian sandwiches you had months ago from the place whose name you've forgotten," said Lindsay Prevette, 30, of Clinton Hill.
"I've never had it not work," she said. "For me, it's all about not having to read the 20-digit credit card over the phone."