Facebook is going beyond restaurant discovery and right into food delivery. As of today, Facebook users across the country can order food for pick-up or delivery directly from a restaurant’s Facebook page or from Facebook’s Explore menu.
“We’re just trying to make it more convenient for people to order food in one place,” says Alex Himel, Facebook VP and lead on the project. In other words, in Facebook’s version of a perfect world, users would never have to leave Facebook for anything.
What is it?
Facebook’s new Order Food menu (within the Explore menu) is a master database of restaurants. Most also have Facebook pages; all of the restaurants listed already offer delivery via an app-based program. The social media giant worked with EatStreet, Delivery.com, Grubhub/Seamless, DoorDash, ChowNow, and Olo — as well as directly with restaurants that have their own apps including Jack in the Box, Wingstop, TGI Fridays, Denny’s, Chipotle, Jimmy John’s, Five Guys, Papa John's, and Panera Bread — to give Facebook users the ability to search for restaurants in their area without having to leave Facebook or remember which app a particular restaurant is on.
The delivery menu database is available to desktop as well as mobile Facebook users on iOS and Android systems.
How does it work for users?
Once a user picks a restaurant, a pop-up identifies related delivery providers. Users select the provider they have an account with (or sign up for a new account) and may then order food from their preferred delivery app that’s operating within the Facebook app. (On desktop browsers, a new tab opens.) Users may also order from a restaurant’s Facebook page by clicking the Delivery button instead of going through the Explore menu.
How does it work for restaurants?
While he couldn’t say how many restaurants are linked to Facebook’s Order Food menu, Himel acknowledged that there are “70 million active businesses on Facebook today, and the majority are high volume, local businesses like restaurants.” Restaurants already using a delivery provider that’s now partnered with Facebook are automatically added to Facebook’s database. Restaurants may opt out or disengage the Delivery button that appears on their Facebook page.
How does it work for Facebook?
“We’ve been working on this for a bit of time, a couple of years,” Himel says. “It just takes time to start the conversation with the [delivery] partners and onboard them.” The onboarding process involves linking each delivery provider’s app to Facebook. “We need to reach out to [each provider]; we didn’t try to exclude any providers, but the process takes time. Our goal is to work with every delivery provider.”
Himel admits that Facebook is saving “the minimum amount of data” from each order. “We save the restaurant you order from,” Himel says, “so it will appear in a preferred list to make it easier for you to reorder from them again.” He says credit card information and order specifics are not saved by Facebook, though they are saved by each delivery provider.
This week’s announcement is specific to Facebook, though the company says it is currently “testing the same service on select restaurant Instagram pages.”
“The goals for us are that you can always find a place to order from that you’re happy with,” Himel says. “If you see your friends talking about a restaurant, you should be able to click over and order food from that restaurant right then and there.”
Food delivery is one of the fastest growing segments in the restaurant business. Online food orders account for 43 percent of all food delivery orders; that number is expected to grow through 2021. Grubhub/Seamless reported a 78-percent increase in profit earlier this year. Meanwhile, Amazon started offering restaurant food delivery in recent years, and renewed its interest in the space when it announced a partnership with Olo — a plug-and-play order and payment system restaurants use to set up their own individual delivery apps and pages.