Basilico are a premium pizza delivery business. They started nearly 25 years ago with the core purpose of bringing proper Italian wood fired pizza to the UK. They are a franchise with 11 different franchisees operating all across central London.
Their menu is made up of the absolute classics all using proper Italian ingredients. As the world has evolved, they have too, offering vegan and gluten free options so that everyone can enjoy their delicious pizza.
They partnered with Slerp early this year in an effort to build up their D2C offering. Since the rise of marketplaces, they along with many businesses have really felt the effects, not all of which have been positive. So partnering with Slerp has been a chance not only to save on commission but to understand the consumer better. We chatted to their managing director Paul Adams about the various challenges they face as a franchise, how important D2C is to their business and what they’re doing to grow this platform.
We were looking for a new partner for our online ordering. We wanted a business where this was their ‘bread and butter’, a partner who was motivated to make D2C work, not someone who would set it up and forget about us. So the appeal with Slerp was the ongoing management and support and the fact that you guys are proactive in helping us boost sales. With Slerp we have really built a long term relationship.
Marketplaces have had a really detrimental effect on our D2C offering, in the last 6 or 7 years we’ve seen a big shrink in D2C. This is obviously something we want to change, which is why we wanted a partner like Slerp who would be proactive and help us build it back up rather than manage decline.
It’s really hard to compete against marketplaces, it’s obviously a huge cost to us and our franchises with the amount of commission they take. But also you’re putting all your eggs in one basket and giving up so much control. They have access to all your customer data and you don’t.
So partnering with Slerp is part of a conscious fight back by us to bring more and more sales back in-house.
It’s two core things really. One is focussing on making the buying experience as simple as possible. We’re competing with the best in class. Marketplaces have made it so easy for customers, with just a couple of taps their food is on the way, so we needed a partner who could make our D2C as good as that.
The second thing is communication. We now know who our customers are, they’ve downloaded the app, we can communicate with them in a clever, targeted way. We don’t want to annoy them and interrupt them too much, but simply prompt them to keep coming back to Basilico.
So it’s basically creating a smooth and engaging ordering experience, and that’s what we’ve got now!
Again, it’s all about gaining back control and building more of a direct relationship with the customer. It’s also future proofing and developing an omni-channel approach which reduces our reliance on marketplaces. What happens if they change or go bust? If you rely on them you make yourself vulnerable.
It’s all of that really, obviously it’s lower fees, that’s really core for our franchisees, but it’s also the ability to directly engage with your customers and be much more proactive with trying to drive sales. D2C is all about future proofing your business.
Our franchisees are very supportive obviously, they recognise problems with marketplaces, but it’s almost impossible not to be on them, so they have exactly the same tensions as us.
One of the challenges we face is that incentives like free delivery work really well with D2C, but of course franchisee’s want to ensure we’re keeping our costs as low as possible. It’s about finding a balance, and showing how these incentives drive more spend.
“Partnering with Slerp is part of a conscious fight back by us to bring more and more sales back in-house.”
Paul Adams, Managing Director.
They are less concerned with aspects like data and future proofing, these are my focus. They are naturally more worried about their day to day issues, like sales and commission and how much they have to pay for everything.
So it’s really the savings that motivate them. We all want to reverse this ‘trend’ of marketplaces. D2C is money straight into their pockets, they would always rather have a direct sale than through a third party. They don’t really think about the longer term benefit of having a customer database, it’s not what they are there for.
It’s early days, we’ve only been using the marketing services for a few months. We had a really successful first campaign, and it’s been a strong start.
We don’t have enough staff to manage marketing comms ourselves so for a small business like us it’s really amazing to have a team who can create and send emails. But it’s also the insight we gain from Slerp. The team has expertise and insights across the entire industry so they can recommend offers and campaigns that we might not have known or thought about. Our comms are now backed by data not just instincts.
It’s always the Margherita, it’s a classic! But it’s also because it’s easily modified, so people can add toppings. So although it’s the most popular, probably about half of them are modified. I’d guess that would be the same for a lot of pizza places.
You have to go back to this point about making the process as simple and straightforward as possible. Customers have high expectations and a short attention span. Your messaging and ordering system has to match the best in class for people to be willing to use it, and if it’s more difficult, they’ll end up using the marketplaces, because they’re easy. Unfortunately customers don’t care if it costs us more, they get their pizza hot either way. BUT if you make it quick and easy, we’ve found the customers are happy to order directly, you just need a good system!