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The Dark Side of Food Portals: Understanding Order Hijacking

Losing a slice of your profit pie?

In today's digital age, food portals have become a popular way for customers to order takeaways online.

When food portals first hit the scene, restaurant owners were convinced that they'd be the key to bringing in new orders and customers, all eager to sink their teeth into the delicious food on offer. But as it turns out, this vision is not always the reality.

Many restaurant owners have since discovered that their pre-existing loyal customers are now placing orders through food portals even when they already have their own website or app.

The idea of building your business and expanding your customer base is now being muddied by the reality of losing your pre-existing customers and profits to these sneaky food portals.

But how exactly are they doing this?

It's Called Order jacking

The practice is known as "order jacking," where a company places Google ads on another restaurants own name and add their own links to a restaurant's Google business profile in order to redirect customers to their own site.

It's a sad truth, but it's completely legal for food portals to engage in this practice. The permission for them to do so is buried deep within their terms and conditions, which most restaurant owners don't spot or don't realise the significance of.

However the question is, if they are so good at bringing customers, why do they feel they need to engage in this practice?

However this practice can have a significant impact on the restaurant's business, as customers may not realise they are clicking on the food portal's ad and place their order through them instead of directly with the restaurant. This can result in lost revenue for the restaurant, as they will not receive the full price of the order and may also have to pay a commission to the food portal.

"I couldn't believe it when I found out that my own customers were being directed to a food portal's site instead of mine. It's not just the lost revenue, it's also the fact that my customers were not getting the full experience of my restaurant. It's a real betrayal of trust and it's important for other restaurant owners to be aware of this practice and take steps to protect their business." - John, owner of "The Pizza Palace."

Additionally, this practice can also lead to confusion for customers, as they may believe they are ordering directly from the restaurant, when in fact they are placing their order through a third party. This can lead to dissatisfaction with the service and food, as the restaurant may not have full control over the order and delivery process.

Not only does this practice result in lost revenue and confusion for customers, but it also creates the false impression that the only way to order from a restaurant is through the food portal. This is simply not the case for many restaurants, who have their own online ordering systems and delivery methods. But with food portals hijacking orders and redirecting customers, it's easy for people to believe that this is the only option.

Another way that food portals can hijack orders is by adding their own links to a restaurant's Google business profile. This can happen when a food portal has claimed the business listing on Google, and then adds their own link for online ordering. When customers search for the restaurant on Google, they may see the food portal's link and accidentally click it, thinking it is the restaurant's own link.

"I joined a food portal thinking it would bring in new customers, but I never imagined it would redirect my existing customers away from my own website. It's frustrating to know that all the effort we put into building our brand and customer base is being taken away by these food portals. It's important for restaurant owners to weigh the pros and cons before joining a food portal and to be vigilant about their own online presence." - Sarah, owner of "Sarah's Sandwich Shop."

How to find out if this is happening to you

So, how can a restaurant discover if this practice of order jacking is happening to them, we asked the Director of Client success at Order Digital who said?

“One of the most important things a restaurant can do to discover if they are being affected by order hijacking is to check their Google search results. A great time to do this is on a Friday between 5-7pm, as this is typically a busy time for takeaways. If an advert appears on your restaurant's name, it's a sign that food portals may be redirecting customers to their own site. This could mean that hundreds of clicks are being lost, clicks that were likely going to come to the restaurant anyway as the customer searched for it directly.”

How Restaurants Can Protect Their Business

But the real question is: how can you protect yourself from these sneaky food portals? The answer is simple: ensure that your own website is prominently displayed in search results when customers search for your restaurant name. Also, consider using your own online ordering system, rather than relying on food portals.

Here at Order Digital, we understand the impact that order hijacking can have on a restaurant's business. That's why we offer a solution to help our clients who are affiliated with food portals. We make sure their business stays at the top of the search results, so even if food portals are redirecting customers, we'll make sure that their efforts are below our efforts. This results in customers ordering directly with the restaurant, bypassing the food portals altogether. Our team of experts will optimise your website, making sure it's easy to find and use.

Turn the tables!

But we don't just stop there, we can also turn the tables back on the Food Portal. By finding Food Portal customers about to order from you via a food portal and instead getting them to order from you directly. We call this the flip and switch and it works really well. By implementing this strategy, we can help you regain control of your orders and revenue, and ensure your customers have a positive experience.


It's important restaurants are aware of this and that they can do something about it should they choose to.

There are solutions available to mitigate this practice and even reverse the situation into the restaurants benefit with the "flip & switch" strategy.

With the right strategy in place, restaurants can ensure that they are not being affected and instead are growing their business as fast as possible, with a minimal cost of doing so.

If you’d like to learn more simply get in touch with us today.

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