For the most part, restaurant deals from the likes of Groupon, LivingSocial, and other sites have come in the dine-in-only variety. Starting Thursday, though, LivingSocial is offering takeout and delivery services at restaurants in 26 U.S. markets, with the rest of the country to soon follow.
LivingSocial’s new “Takeout & Delivery” option officially launched in more than two dozen markets, mostly in big cities such as Boston, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Dallas, San Francisco, St. Louis, Phoenix, and Seattle. The service has been available for some time in the Washington, D.C., area (LivingSocial’s home base), and it’s expected to hit the nation’s two biggest markets, New York City and Los Angeles, in the near future.
“Takeout & Delivery” is replacing LivingSocial Instant, which featured last-minute restaurant deals that usually required customers to book and dine within a few short hours. With the new service, LivingSocial members—who don’t necessarily have to subscribe to daily e-mails—browse the menus of partner restaurants and place their orders online, including whether they want to pick up the order or have it delivered. No phone call required, of course. Payment will be made with the credit card LivingSocial has on file for the account.
While the service is convenient, LivingSocial has made its name as a deals site, and it’s unclear at this point how much of a discount customers will get by ordering via Takeout & Delivery. It’s being presented as a speedy online ordering service first and foremost, with the potential for deals and added value almost as afterthoughts. You’ll at least get a bonus discount on the first order, as the company’s press release states:
First-time Takeout & Delivery users can dine for just one dollar with a $1 for $10 introductory offer available at LivingSocial.com for use on Takeout & Delivery orders.
LivingSocial also says that it’ll offer “features specials similar to its regular daily deals” from time to time for Takeout & Delivery. Greg Mazanec, GM of LivingSocial Takeout & Delivery, said that the impetus for the service arose because consumers are “looking for a faster and better way to order food from their favorite local restaurants”:
“By pivoting our Instant business to focus on Takeout & Delivery, we’re helping our restaurant merchants better connect with new and existing customers, while also saving our members time and money.”
Will Takeout & Delivery prove to be a hit with consumers? We’ll have to wait and see. Daily deal sites are always trying something new (and often, unusual), from high-end “Reserve” deals, to branded credit cards, to underwear flash sales, and beyond.
LivingSocial Instant was once considered the new “it” daily deal concept, as was the last-minute Groupon Now option. LivingSocial was ramping up its Instant service as recently as last summer, when CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy told us why the concept was perfect for restaurants:
It kinda comes down to: Everybody’s gotta eat. You know, restaurants are also a social experience. You go out to lunch, you go out to dinner with friends. From a restaurant’s perspective, if they have empty booths, empty tables, empty seats … that’s incremental revenue that they could be getting that they’re not. They’re open, and might as well try to get more people in.
Well, restaurants don’t have to be a social experience. See: Takeout & Delivery. But everybody does have to eat.