Ronny Elkayam often reflects on the future of the restaurant business. As senior vice president of strategic products at website builder Wix, he envisions a transformed restaurant industry after the pandemic. No longer will restaurants focus solely on in-person dining. They also will see a large percentage of sales through delivery and takeout.
“I think restaurants are going to be hybrid,” Elkayam said. “It will not only be dine-in. Everyone will have takeout and delivery. I think the national marketplaces (like UberEats) will continue to exist, because they solve a problem for the consumer by aggregating many restaurants in a single app.”
Seeing that as the future of the restaurant business, Wix recently purchased SpeedETab, which integrates online ordering into a restaurant’s point-of-sale. Wix wants to integrate the platform into Wix and create a full-stack way of managing multiple revenue streams within a restaurant.
Prepared for the pandemic
Even before the pandemic, the restaurant industry had been changing, but the industry was slow to embrace technology. Some restaurants still did not have a website and very few, especially the smaller operations, offered online ordering. That changed when restaurants were forced to stop in-person dining last year.
“The last year has been very interesting in the restaurant business,” Elkayam said. “What we saw was an acceleration of the timeline. We knew that every restaurant in the future was going to have an online presence. They are going to not only show the menu and take reservations but also do ordering whether it’s for delivery or takeout.”
Wix has been helping restaurants establish an online presence for years and was prepared for the change. Wix provides customers with a drag-and-drop platform for website building. Customers can create quality websites with limited technical ability. The platform also has e-commerce and other add-on capabilities.
Six years ago, Wix decided to become more active in the restaurant industry. The company acquired a business that operated in the restaurant space, and the purchase expanded Wix’s capabilities.
“It provided online ordering, and we integrated that into the Wix platform,” Elkayam said.
Over the past few years, Elkayam and his team have been working to integrate the platform and make Wix for Restaurants an easy platform for restaurants. He said many restaurant owners have learned to use the system themselves and have built quality restaurant websites without hiring a professional design team. Wix has worked hard to make the system as easy as possible to use.
The project was not easy. Ordering online through a restaurant is very different from purchasing products through an online store.
“Menus in restaurants are complicated,” Elkayam said. “You have different menus at different hours. You have different opening hours on different days. Different delivery hours. There are lots of nuances and yet we see lots of mom-and-pop restaurants and small restaurants that take the challenge and do that.”
All the work paid off. Restaurants saw Wix as an efficient way to build an online ordering system when the pandemic. Within a few weeks, thousands of restaurants had signed up and were building websites and online ordering systems.
“Restaurants that were going to come in five years, came now,” Elkayam said. “They understood that they could not live otherwise. So, the restaurants went online in huge numbers. At the same time, consumers went online to order food. People who didn’t order food online started to order online.”
The pandemic transformed people’s interaction with the restaurant industry overnight. The center of restaurant food consumption became the home. People ordered online and either did delivery or takeout. Nobody did in-person dining.
The switch led to the increased use of delivery and third-party delivery companies. Revenues at third-party delivery companies like DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and Postmates doubled in 2020, and DoorDash and other companies in the restaurant technology space went public. Restaurants relied on third-party delivery companies, because they had no way of quickly establishing an in-house delivery operation.
Now that the dust has settled, and people see a path to a new normal, restaurants are exploring options. One of the main problems with third-party delivery is the fees, which can be as high as 30 percent. Restaurants are looking at ways to still offer delivery but not have to pay the high fees.
“Our main concern is the restaurants,” Elkayam said.
That is where the purchase of SpeedETab comes into play. Wix saw that it had a hole in the products that it could offer restaurants. SpeedETab allows a restaurant the ability to have customers order directly on the website and get delivery. The SpeedETab platform lets the restaurant call a delivery driver directly without having to pay the large processing fee.
“The system we provide makes it possible to connect directly with the local delivery system or even a company like DoorDash but not through the mechanism of DoorDash marketplace,” Elkayam said. “We just ask them to do the delivery and that is a very low fee.”
In addition, the restaurant is able to capture customer information. When a person orders through the third-party platform, the data is kept by the platform, so the restaurant has no way of communicating with the customer.
Elkayam said Wix has no interest in keeping the customer data.
“It’s not our data; it’s the restaurant’s data,” Elkayam said. “Wix lets restaurants acquire users and maintain a connection with these users and allow them to do repeat sales.”
In addition, SpeedETab enhances a restaurant’s ability to handle multiple ordering streams. It can be challenging to manage restaurant operations and the kitchen when a restaurant has third-party delivery, orders from its website, and pick up and dine-in. Elkayam said the software helps restaurants manage the flow of orders and operate the restaurant more efficiently.
“Right now a lot of restaurants solve these problems with a paper and pencil,” he said.
Toward the future
Elkayam believes restaurants will have to adapt to a new paradigm. The hybrid model could become the norm for most restaurants, even formal dining establishments. Customers have enjoyed the convenience of online ordering. They can sit at home and use their phones to order. People do not have to sit and wait at a restaurant. People have developed these habits during the pandemic, and they are not going to change, Elkayam said.
He is proud of the work that Wix has done during the pandemic. The company has played a role in keeping the restaurant industry alive and believes it will continue to offer the industry the tools that are needed to survive into the future.
“At the end of the day, we are positioned in a very good place, because we host tons of restaurants,” Elkayam said. “We know exactly what their pain points are.”