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!