Avoid Seamless Like you Avoid Times Square



Choking sign.  Thats what I got from business owners when talking about Seamless the last few weeks.  I knew things are bad but not to this extreme.  Seamless provides a service that is, well, seamless to the consumer.  Ordering food delivery has never been easier.  With your CC info on file, its pretty much point and click.  The hardest part is to move your tuches (with a jewish ch) to open the door.  At my company in Hell’s Kitchen, Seamless is the preferred method for lunch.  At least it was until I told my coworkers the real story.

Seamless charges anywhere from 10-20% commission for every purchase.  The owners I spoke to get charged 16% on average.  Getting closer to the 10% zone and seeing your name on top comes with a high price tag.  This is a huge chunk of their profit without much to gain in terms of customers.  To the business owner, its a middle man, showing up one day out of nowhere to take a hefty cut of the profits.  Like a modern day mafia, leaving you no choice, and no additional business.

Why cant they stop using the service?  I asked that question over and over.  Thats where the choking gesture comes in at some point.  Seamless has simply ballooned into something so big that dropping them means losing a big chunk of your business.  With the acquisition of Grubhub, Seamless pretty much owns the field, and essentially a monopoly.  There are smaller players entering the field like Yelp, and other deliver options like Maple from David Chang but none of these for the time being are disruptive to this behemoth.

The popularity and convenience of Seamless means people order out more and go out less, resulting in even more lesser profits.  The brand is so big that its almost fair to classify it a generic trademark, essentially synonymous with food deliveries, as in “Hey Shlomo, wana Seamless it today”.  When I sit at a restaurant these days its almost like seating at a Seamless establishment as you are surrounded by Seamless signs and listen to Seamless delivery alerts coming from the system.  It makes you feel ancient, not part of the new system, albeit much appreciated by the now overly stressed business.

And as we see over and over again, those same mom and pops simply fold one day and move on.  A little rent increase is all it takes these days.  Mom and pop move on to Denver, a new Starbucks takes it place.  You like that sandwich?  You want them to continue making it.  Call them directly!


Categories: New York City | Tags: , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Avoid Seamless Like you Avoid Times Square

  1. Hi Ziggy, thanks for sharing your views on this “issue”, I totally agree that it is a small (and medium?) sized business killer. As you said, you can’t do without Seamless or you’ll loose customers, but it’s hard to cope with it too because it’s an extra fee to support for the owners who need to sell even higher volumes now in order to re-adjust their overall margin. I may be paraphrasing here, but it’s just a way to support your commentary on the situation. By the way, I love your blog.

  2. Thanks Sophie. You are correct on all counts. I see you just came back from your first trip to my city. Hope you enjoyed, and ate well.

    • My first trip (that I wrote about) was in 2011, the second was last year (upcoming post), and my third trip to NYC is in a month, I’ll be there the first week of March. Can’t wait to go back and maybe try some of your recommended restaurants!

  3. WEQueen

    The problem is quite a few of the restaurants “we” use only operate through Seamless. Unfortunately, some of us just have to eat at home and when we can’t cook, nothing like “delivery”.

    • You can call the restaurant directly. I cant imagine a scenario where they wouldnt prefer that, but you never know

  4. WEQueen

    Just read (NYMAG.com) that the UBER food delivery service is going to be taking a 30% surcharge/fee….

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