Customer Ecosystems: Meal Ordering Services

Creating Customer Ecosystems Around a Specific Service

March 15, 2012

There are lessons to be learned from seemingly simple scenarios and the ecosystem of business partners who fulfill the customers’ goals. If there’s “a job” that customers need to get done, it’s relatively easy to foster an ecosystem of business partners to fulfill customers’ goals. Here, we test out the scenario of “I want to order a restaurant meal to be delivered when I want it,” and how well an ecosystem of online ordering service, restaurants, and delivery providers meet the challenge. What take-aways will you get from our comparison of three competing meal ordering services?


In this customer experience audit, we look at three different services,,, and, that offer online ordering from restaurants for pickup and delivery. We run the services through a customer scenario to discover the high points and the low points of ordering on each site.

But we also look at how this meal ordering and delivery service epitomizes a thriving customer ecosystem made up of the ordering service provider, the restaurants who make the food, and the delivery services that makes sure the food gets there piping hot. There are lessons to be learned from this seemingly simple scenario and its ecosystem of business partners.

What Is a Customer-Centric Ecosystem?

(Click on image to enlarge.)

© 2012 Patricia Seybold Group Inc.


Meal Ordering Made Easy

Being able to order meal delivery from a variety of restaurants is a great value proposition for urban dwellers who really enjoy having food delivered and trying different restaurants. Instead of having to select a specific restaurant, look for a take-out menu, make a call, and recite your address, phone number, and credit card number every time, you can go to one of these sites, enter the info once, and you’re all set for all future deliveries. Of course, with take out, you don’t have to pay for delivery or tip the driver, but you do have to walk or drive to the restaurant. Cooking is, of course, the least expensive and most nutritious alternative, but there are so many people who are too busy, too lazy, or simply don’t like to cook, that the restaurant delivery business thrives.

In this article, I present a comparison of features offered by three meal ordering web sites. These comparisons are not exhaustive, but give a flavor for the differentiators of each site. I also point out the strengths and weaknesses of each service, something I have been doing with Patricia Seybold Group customer experience audits for 30 years.

But why should you care unless you are in a similar business? My purpose is threefold:

  1. First, I’m demonstrating the approach to evaluating a business and its offerings. As loyal readers know, we approach evaluation from a “Customer Scenario” point of view. What is it that the customer wants to achieve, and what steps does he want to take to reach her goal? Nothing exposes the problems in a web site, business process, and customer experience quicker than actually going through the steps of a real life scenario. And, when thinking through the scenario, you think as a customer—what does the customer WANT to do, to find out, to accomplish, rather than what does your organization want him to do.
  2. Second, this exercise provides some insights into what’s required to build a win/win/win customer ecosystem: thinking through how the customer wins, the provider (ordering service) wins, and the merchants/partners (restaurants) win.
  3. Third, analyzing and comparing customer ecosystems is a useful skill. As more and more customer ecosystems spring into being, the more important it will be for all parties involved to be able to discern quickly which one(s) will be sustainable and viable.

What’s a Customer Ecosystem?

A customer ecosystem is a business network that’s aligned to help customers get things done—both the things they want to accomplish and the things they want to manage.

What makes a customer ecosystem valuable to customers is that...

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