Edinburgh has an appetite for Secret Takeaways

Last Friday, a new takeaway delivery platform launched in Edinburgh to challenge the big three apps that take up to 35% commissions from small businesses. Secret Takeaways connects the consumer directly with local restaurants that offer delivery, charging the restaurant a small monthly fee instead. During the launch weekend, Secret Takeaways exceeded their monthly target of referrals by 250%, demonstrating massive consumer support for the concept.

Like many independently-owned businesses, the newly-opened Luxford Burgers on Edinburgh’s Saint Leonard’s Street shouldered the big commissions charged by delivery apps as a means of establishing a market for their product. Alex Galpin of Luxford Burgers said: “There is an immense pressure as a business owner, especially during the boom in the takeaway market we have experienced as a result of COVID, to sign up to delivery platforms with high commission rates. As a restaurant born in lockdown, it’s no secret that delivery platforms were our business plan. As times have moved forward, and we have transitioned into sit-in, physical service, we can only feel as if our takeaway platform market on Deliveroo is being left behind with the fast evolution of this industry. This immense pressure, however, is harboured as a direct result of ‘having no other choice’ – to gain access to a large customer base, you must succumb to the commissions. Certainly, a platform that operates around a flat fee, gives us access to our customer demographics and doesn’t tie you into a commission service contract has it bang-on with the current status of the market.”

Designed to replace the drawer of takeaway menus found in every home before the big tech delivery apps arrived on the scene, Secret Takeaways aims to ensure independent restaurants are able to retain as much profit as possible. Many consumers are unaware of the massive cut taken by delivery apps, or that by ordering directly from the restaurant they will enjoy more menu choice and dishes that typically cost around 20% less. Alex continued: “Operating with delivery apps is tough. You either have a rider knocking at the door 30 seconds after the order comes through to the kitchen, or you can expect a rider to saunter into the restaurant an hour after. Because of the pressure of timings with platforms, we operate a reduced menu offering on platforms to ensure food is prepared on-time and is not delayed reaching the customer. Further, restaurant owners may also feel pressured to up their prices on the platforms to attempt to compensate for the commission – that is, when the delivery apps don’t voluntarily update the restaurant’s menu online themselves to reflect the prices on the restaurant’s own website. It’s a difficult balance with the added pressure of conforming to the rules and regulations of signing up with delivery apps. It’s no secret that when ordering from a local takeaway, the food will be warmer, fresher and cost less when you do it through their own means.

Callum McPherson, the founder of Secret Takeaways commented: “We were blown away by the response to Secret Takeaways in our first weekend. We knew that the platform would resonate with the city and that people would welcome the ability to find and order directly from their local restaurants, but we did not expect uptake to be so fast. We broke the internal targets we had set ourselves for the month in the first 3 days of being live and that is testament only to the hunger in the market for supporting local businesses. A number of our Restaurant Partners were perhaps not in the best state to receive the volume of customers that we sent to them and we are now working with those brands to improve systems and gear up for the future.”

There are currently over 100 restaurants in Edinburgh with a membership in the platform representing a broad spectrum of categories like burgers, pizza, vegetarian and Asian food as well as cook-at-home meals from the likes of Chop House, l’escargot bleu and Cafe St Honoré. The platform is rolling out to cities across the UK in the coming months, with Glasgow launching at the start of July and international markets in the pipeline for 2022.

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