When Saroj Poudel worked as an employee at Papa John’s and Domino’s pizza franchises in North Carolina, he saw firsthand how important convenience was to customers: Sixty percent of sales at those chains, he says, came from online orders. So last year, when Poudel bought Pop's Backdoor Pizza, an independent pizza shop in Durham, he knew that if he had any chance to compete with the big pizza chains, he needed to offer the same conveniences.
When delivery services like GrubHub and Seamless first hit the scene, they were hailed as saviors for independent restaurants like Poudel’s, but restaurants quickly saw their profits eaten by commissions. As of 2014, GrubHub and Seamless received an average commission of 13.5 percent per order. But going at it alone and trying to build the technology wielded by delivery apps and big chains is often prohibitively costly to independent restaurants.
Most food delivery and ordering startups aim to solve a problem for the eater: namely, get them their food, fast. IT professional Ilir Sela, whose grandparents owned pizzerias in Manhattan and Brooklyn, started Slice, an independent pizza-ordering platform, with another group of customers in mind — the restaurants. Poudel started working with Slice in September, and estimates 20 percent of Pop’s orders come through the company’s website and app.