The United States’ restaurant delivery marketplace seems like a complex tangle of emerging and incumbent delivery services, technological platforms and payment methods, but it has nothing on Europe’s.
Where U.S. businesses at least operate with one type of currency, working within one set of federal laws and regulations (even if state laws may vary), cross-border global marketplaces have an exponentially more complicated landscape to navigate. Not only does Europe have several multinational delivery companies vying to be the continent’s top pick, but it also has a wide range of local services competing for customers’ food spending in that area.
“In Europe, we have 50 countries, so each has its very specific culture and habits, and this is also represented in the payment methods that they use,” explained Claire Cambournac-Hesterman, Limonetik’s head of payments methods. “So, there’s a lot of adaptation from the platforms being implemented in Europe to integrate all of those local payment methods.”
Untangling The Knot
With all of these different payment methods, delivery services are challenged to be highly flexible.
“The ecosystem is very complex,” Cambournac-Hesterman said. “There are multiple factors, and that is the first main difference from what delivery aggregators face in the U.S.”
In addition to local payment methods in each market, these businesses must also contend with Europe’s lunch voucher culture. Employers will regularly subsidize restaurant payment cards for workday meals, which, Cambournac-Hesterman explained, is “a very big market in Europe,” comprising “billions of euros.”
Additionally, she said, changing local regulations provide constant challenges for European delivery services. As an example, she cited a rule in France limiting prepaid meal cards to 19 euros (about $23) per day, a limit that was doubled to 38 euros (about $46) during the pandemic and will return to the original 19 euros at the end of the summer. Local regulations can also limit, for instance, what share of a given meal sale that alcoholic beverage purchases can comprise.
“So, all of this needs to be managed by the delivery aggregators, and I believe this is pretty new for them,” said Cambournac-Hesterman.
The ‘Three Poles Of Excellence’
Although Limonetik works with a wide range of businesses, its work with online restaurant delivery platforms allows these multinational companies to integrate with local payment methods as they grow. The company partners with major European food delivery services, facilitating their international growth by making them compatible with a wider range of local and global payment methods.
“We specialize in connecting food marketplaces to payment methods, mostly in Europe,” Cambournac-Hesterman explained.
She added that Limonetik’s strategy is based on what she describes as the “three poles of excellence within payment methods.”
The first pole is the engineering, which is about optimizing the platform’s front and back end.
The second pole, project management, frees up developers to focus on the first pole.
The third pole she outlined is “level-three support,” which is to say support in building out the team. All together, Cambournac-Hesterman said that the company can better facilitate its clients’ cross-border expansions, particularly delivery aggregators with very different business models and payments acceptance requirements.
Keeping Pace With A Changing Marketplace
“On the technical side of payment methods integration, there is really enhanced competition between the [major food delivery] players,” said Cambournac-Hesterman. “We feel it in our day-to-day operations.”
She added that Limonetik consequently must “continuously be on the lookout” for these deals, and for “all the moves that are happening on the market,” and must be ready to implement the “technical evolutions linked to the changes of their business models.”
Sure enough, there is a lot going on with all the major players, as each looks to parlay the pandemic tailwind of the past 14 months into future success. As Deliveroo gets a boost from Goldman Sachs, German food delivery platform Delivery Hero is busy with its new venture capital fund while selling off its Balkans delivery service to Spanish startup Glovo, and Just Eat Takeaway.com continues to work toward its acquisition of Grubhub.
“It is very competitive,” Cambournac-Hesterman reflected. “…It’s a very active market right now, and we’re seeing our business model evolve.”