The rollout began this summer when Yelp started accepting takeout and delivery orders for restaurants in New York and San Francisco via its new partner Eat24, a California company that specializes in online and mobile-based ordering. In the past few weeks, Yelp and Eat24 have expanded their service to restaurants in the D.C. area.
Which means that Yelp is one step closer to establishing itself as a one-stop shop for diners: They can now scan reviews, write their own, make a reservation via OpenTable's embedded software and order takeout or delivery via the new embedded system without ever hearing the sound of their own voice. Diners have been effectively muted, and the New Silent Generation couldn't be happier.
Eat24 has established relationships with "thousands" of restaurants in the Washington area, says Amir Eisenstein, chief marketing officer for the San Francisco-based company. Many of those restaurants now have takeout and/or delivery ordering functions built into their Yelp pages; they include Asia Nine, Super Tacos & Bakery, Meat in a Box, Kababji Grill, Meskerem and many more. Another Yelp online ordering partner, Delivery.com, also has hundreds of restaurants in the area (some of which overlap with those on Eat24, which seems to handle most of the Yelp orders from a random check of various restaurant pages).
It's a fairly standard system: You click on the "Order Delivery or Pickup" tab, enter your address (or that you intend to pick up the food yourself) and Yelp takes you to an online menu for the restaurant. You click on what you want and it automatically goes into a shopping cart. Be forewarned: The online service typically adds delivery and "service fees," the latter of which appear to grow incrementally with each item you add. Yelp will confirm your order via e-mail.
The Yelp/Eat24 partnership is more similar to Seamless than to TakeOut Taxi; Yelp and Eat24 just take the order and send it to the participating restaurant, which is then responsible for fulfilling the order and/or delivering it. Eisenstein, however, is quick to add that Eat24 does more than broker orders for restaurants.
"We do for them the entire online ordering and marketing," the executive says, including a point-of-service system at the restaurant, which manages orders on the back-end. Eat24 also can help restaurants create a better Web presence.
"Our business model is commission-based," Eisenstein adds. "If we don't produce orders, we don’t make money."
The interesting thing here is that, on Yelp, public reviews are much more of a focal point than they are on, say, Seamless or GrubHub. Eat24 claims its partnership with Yelp will "quadruple" orders for its participating restaurants by the end of 2013. The company appears to be arguing that sheer volume will translate into more orders. Perhaps Eat24 is right; according to Yelp, the site reached 100 million unique visitors in January for the first time in company history.
Presumably, many of those people were hungry.