Just Eat Takeaway.com from Dutch player to globally scalable platform

By 4 March 2021Blog, Podcast

Just Eat Takeaway.com from Dutch player to globally scalable platform

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when you couldn’t just whip out your phone and use an app to order food. While attending a house party in 1999, then-student Jitse Groen tried to order food online and quickly found out that such a thing didn’t exist yet. And so, the idea for Thuisbezorgd.nl was born. That original website has since transformed into the successful, international organization with branches in twenty-three countries that Just Eat Takeaway (JET) is today.

After seventeen years, it was time to hire a Chief Marketing Officer to make sure that the marketing activities for all these countries were properly set up and coordinated. That was Maurine Alma, who is in charge of JET’s global marketing department: “The marketing machine is in full swing.”

In our 22nd episode of our podcast Innovative Leaders by INFO, Alma spoke with us about world domination, centralized marketing, how to get and stay top of mind, COVID, the future and a special little restaurant in Amsterdam.

This podcast is also available on Google PodcastSpotify and Apple Podcast.

 

World domination

We’ve mentioned that JET is active in twenty-three countries, but did you know that they are the biggest food delivery provider in almost all of those countries, as well? Our first question, obviously, for Alma is how close JET is to world domination? “Pretty close,” she confirms with pride in her voice. The company has grown tremendously and is currently in the process of taking over American food delivery service, GrubHub. This is interesting if you take into account that JET is still fully in the throes of integrating the recently acquired Just Eat platform. “We saw a chance and we took it,” Alma explains. Fortunately, JET is traditionally well-equipped to accommodate fast growth, even though the speed and the scale that they’re seeing now are unprecedented, especially when considering that everything happens from home. Alma mentions that she has some colleagues that she’s never even met face to face: “It’s challenging, but it can be done. Everything runs smoothly,” she says.

 

First launch then iterate

Retention marketing is also part of Alma’s dominion. JET wants to retain all the new customers they gained the past year, after all. The merger with Lieferando gave JET access to their loyalty platform, which provided sufficient evidence that it positively influenced customer behavior. That’s why INFO has a close partnership with JET to design and build their own loyalty platform. During this collaboration, we noticed and experienced that learning and iterating are part of the corporate culture. Is this a conscious decision or a necessity? “Both,” Alma laughs. “With these types of platforms [you often see that] a loyalty program is completely thought out and built first before launching it. However, we already had some learnings and would rather launch and iterate than sit around and wait. There’s no way you can completely predict how a customer is going to react anyways.”

Podcast Just Eat Takeaway

Centralized marketing

In order for things to run smoothly, Alma combines this (in)famous Dutch down-to-earthness with a solid central marketing strategy, in which everything is run from a single platform. This “goes beyond simple marketing like images and campaigns, [we do everything we can to] use technology to scalably get traffic to the app and the platform every way we can,” she says. The marketing team consists of about 500 people that are divided between the Amsterdam and London HQs. Of course, these marketeers are concerned with campaigns and findability, but also with JET’s ecommerce platform, for instance, where connected restaurants can easily order all kinds of delivery items, from coats to bikes and from pizza boxes to ingredients. “People have no idea that this is all part of marketing,” Alma exclaims enthusiastically. But why did JET choose to centrally organize its marketing endeavors? “Because we can,” Alma laughs. “By centralizing marketing data, we can smartly deploy the best people and the best resources. Moreover, this data allows us to be locally relevant, whether you are in Amsterdam or Berlin.”

 

“By centralizing marketing data, we can smartly deploy the best people and the best resources. Moreover, this data allows us to be locally relevant, whether you are in Amsterdam or Berlin.”

 

You would think that their central marketing strategy would give them a leg up compared to the competition, but that’s not exactly the case: “I’m not completely sure how the competition organized their business, but I do know that their solutions are similar to ours, so that won’t make a difference,” Alma explains. Where JET can make a difference, however, is in their pricing and in the restaurants that they offer. “That’s how we stay ahead of the competition,” she states.

 

Top of mind

One of the advantages of working with such a platform is that there are many possibilities to measure behavior and perception. Something that Alma and her team make good use of: “One of the things that we know is that this is a fast moving category. You have to be top of mind, because people make split-second decisions. Fortunately, [thanks to our platform] we have a pretty accurate idea of how many people have us at the top of their minds and what are the best ways to get there and stay there. In the Netherlands, with a 34% penetration rate, JET is doing really well with staying top of mind. But how do they go about that in other countries? Alma explains that when they took over Just Eat – whose brand color is red, but was nevertheless not really visible – they immediately arranged for the iconic orange that we know and love in the Netherlands to be introduced everywhere. “That really does something for your brand,” Alma says.

Podcast Just Eat Takeaway

COVID-proof business model

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that COVID “wasn’t exactly bad for business,” as Alma says herself. “The hardest part of any marketeer’s job is to change behavior. The pandemic has been a great help in letting people get used to going out to dinner at home and not just ordering a pizza when you don’t feel like cooking,” she adds. This doesn’t mean that she and her team can lean back and relax: “It’s not so hard to gain market share, what’s hard is to become every person in the world’s preferred food delivery service.”

To achieve this, JET determines a number of KPIs each year that are leading for all (marketing) activities. Additionally, “[we] also try to create a framework in which everybody can operate freely, knows what’s expected of them and can perform their job pretty autonomously,” Alma explains. This doesn’t always go smoothly, but provides everybody in the company the freedom to jump at a chance if one should arise.

 

“It’s not so hard to gain market share, what’s hard is to become every person in the world’s preferred food delivery service.”

 

Looking ahead (or not)

For example, Alma sees a chance in offering other things besides food delivery in the future, like PostNL delivers food now, as well: “Absolutely, of course, we’re not only a delivery service, we also offer the range of restaurants that people can choose from. That’s our core business, but we are certainly also looking at offering services outside of the realm of food delivery, such as Takeaway Pay,” she says. In about five years, Alma thinks that JET would love to “be an important part of each food moment of the day.” What that looks like exactly? She’s not sure yet, because “we don’t like to look that far ahead,” she laughs.

 

Heroes

Where most of our guests mention Steve Jobs, Pieter Zwarts or even our own (outgoing) prime minister, Mark Rutte, Alma stays even closer to home with a restaurant around the corner from her home, de Zoldering. She is very charmed by the innovative mindset of its owners: “I think it’s incredible how innovatively they have handled the pandemic so far. They started home delivery, created DIY boxes, offered wine packages, created online videos, found ways to keep their customer base engaged, collaborated with a celebrity chef and kept their staff engaged and busy. I think that that’s incredibly clever,” she concludes.

If you would like to know what Maurine Alma had to say about un-Dutch growth, the countries that have their own marketing teams, what type of people JET is looking for and why they’re not too broken up about the European Championship Soccer being cancelled, even though JET sponsored it, please listen to the podcast here. Please note that the podcast is in Dutch.

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