While the largest food delivery apps have provided convenience to consumers during the pandemic, their predatory practices and massive fees are threatening the very industry they claim to save. With vicious delivery competition and diminishing profits, many restaurants are facing a dire dilemma: go out of business quickly by avoiding the delivery apps, or go out of business slowly by adopting them.
Consumers are often unaware of these realities, and despite delivery apps’ high fees and poor customer service, all signs indicate that consumers’ appetite for delivery is only growing. The team at Aurify Brands—owner of The Melt Shop, Le Pain Quotidien and more—witnessed this trend firsthand, as their restaurants moved to higher proportions of delivery orders and many of their fellow operators were forced to close down locations. In 2020, Aurify Brands became determined to build a better delivery marketplace, and turned to frog to help them create it. The result is Sesame.
Defining a New Strategy
As restaurant operators themselves, the Sesame team understood that a marketplace business more aligned with restaurant economics must be driven by new customers and diner loyalty. But a critical question remained: Would consumers and restaurants use a new marketplace? Through detailed user research, frog showed that large majorities of both diners and restaurants would prefer and pay for a zero-commission marketplace, as long as its fees were modest. In order to make Sesame’s no-commission model work, frog helped Sesame determine the monthly subscription fees restaurants pay to access the platform, as well as the small fees charged to consumers on each order.
Research helped uncover other opportunities for differentiation as well. Restaurant operators expressed a strong desire to control their brand within the marketplace and manage their customer experience directly, which existing platforms do not allow. Additionally, they expressed frustration that major delivery apps don’t share customer data with restaurants. On the consumer side, frog’s research showed that Sesame’s critical differentiator is the altruistic appeal of doing more to support local businesses. But consumers also said they want more from the delivery experience than convenience, including tailored recommendations and better customer service and issue resolution when things go wrong.
Creating the Brand
With these insights in mind, the frog team began developing Sesame’s brand strategy and identity. The heart of Sesame’s appeal, both to restaurants and consumers, is its promise to bring the hospitality, community and personal touch that defines in-person dining to the delivery experience. The team aligned on the name “Sesame,” which conveys openness and convenience, and focused brand positioning and messaging on the platform’s ability to strengthen communities by empowering small businesses. The brand expression frog created for Sesame uses an energetic and layered visual style to capture the spirit and personality of independent restaurants in a bustling city, while simultaneously elevating the brands of participating restaurants.
In the final phase of the partnership, frog worked closely and collaboratively with Sesame’s leadership to design and develop an MVP digital experience that would lay the foundation for Sesame’s future growth. Over the course of 18 weeks, frog compiled a complete product backlog, developed Sesame’s brand style guide and built a site map that defines the product structure and flows for both consumers and restaurants. While frog’s internal developers built the front-end consumer experience, Sesame’s back-end dev team completed the restaurant operator experience using detailed web design assets and documentation provided by frog.
Delivering for Restaurants and Communities
With Sesame, restaurant operators can customize their profile and messaging to control their individual brand. They can also interact directly with their customers to provide the level of service and attention consumers have come to expect from other digital experiences. And with Sesame’s sales and customer data dashboards, combined with powerful built-in marketing analytics, restaurants have the strategic tools to advance their business organically.
For consumers, Sesame’s social media-inspired curation and recommendation tools provide opportunities for delightful discovery, helping them to experience all their local restaurant scene has to offer. The Sesame user dashboard also allows them to see how much money zero-commission purchases save their favorite restaurants, and donate Impact Points earned with each order to partner charities in their community. And through Sesame’s partnership with City Harvest, every order placed on Sesame helps feed hungry people in New York City.
Launching in New York City in October 2021, Sesame promises to completely redefine the delivery experience by bringing transparency, hospitality and connection to restaurant delivery—and by helping to rebuild the communities and businesses hit hardest during the pandemic.