Will Slice's deal with TripAdvisor even the playing field for independent pizzerias?
- Online ordering app Slice has teamed up with TripAdvisor to allow customers to order from the nearly 11,000 independent pizza shops in Slice’s network directly from TripAdvisor’s website, according to Skift Table. Most of Slice’s partners are independents and small chains.
- Slice is available in 2,800 U.S. cities, offering marketing, data integration and online ordering for small pizzerias that are behind the curve on technology.
- The Slice deal is one of many restaurant partnerships formed by TripAdvisor since 2014, including Grubhub, OpenTable and Delivery.com.
Independent pizzerias have been losing market share to large players for years, with many simply unable to compete on technology-driven conveniences that consumers crave. According to CHD Expert, there were 75,243 pizza restaurants in operation at the end of September 2017. Independents opened 2,868 stores and closed 4,121, while chains opened 2,124 and closed 1,170.
Former Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle started noticing this technology advantage in the fight for share all the way back in 2013, noting: "Our focus on technology and consumer access via digital ordering continues to give us an edge over our competition, particularly versus the smaller players … Even if the regionals catch up to the level of technology we currently offer, we're already several years ahead of them.”
In a thin-margined business, independent operators are simply not able to invest heavily in technology like the deep-pocketed big players. However, as Slice CEO Ilir Sela told Skift Table, “Digital is not a ‘nice to have’ anymore. It is a must have. Pizzerias need to shift to digital if they are going to succeed long term.”
Fast forward five years and about 60% of Domino’s orders are digital, for example. By partnering with TripAdvisor, Slice is going to try and level the playing field for independents as much as it can.
TripAdvisor claims to have an audience of 456 million unique visitors each month, but it offers independent partners more than just a broad audience reach. People visit TripAdvisor to get information about their trips and people who go on trips often crave unique, local cuisine — not chain pizza. This will provide travelers with a one-stop location for independents to become top of mind.
But increased exposure on a popular travel website won’t translate into automatic traffic at these pizzerias. There are 4.3 million total restaurants listed on TripAdvisor and “hundreds of thousands” of those now offer online ordering through the website, so those 11,000 pizzerias will have to fight for eye share online. However, although TripAdvisor also partners with delivery giants like Grubhub, Slice will be the website’s only pizza delivery partner, according to the agreement — marking another advantage for the little guys.
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