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Is Ordering Food Online Tricking You Into Spending More Money?


Online ordering has been an absolute lifesaver for me. Whether I’m ordering because of a time crunch, because I’m too busy being a couch potato, or I just don’t enjoy the hassle of talking to someone on the phone (it’s so annoying, you know it’s true) ordering food online saves the day.

However, there might be an ulterior motive to companies offering such a convenient option of ordering online after all. The simplicity and ease of ordering food may cause you to lose sight of how much you’re spending. Digital ordering also lets companies track our spending habits better, and may lead to much more personalized offers that are assured to catch our attention (Domino’s I’m onto you!).

About 60 percent of Domino’s orders now come through the chain’s website, app and other digital channels. And people tend to order more online than over the phone, says Domino’s spokesman Tim McIntyre probably because they can browse the menu and take their time deciding (also, people don’t have to speak on the phone). That can result in people getting another pizza topping, or adding sides.

Starbucks is pushing into more personalized offers for loyalty members and mobile app users, which include the recent rollout of “real-time” suggestions to buy based on your past orders for people ordering ahead on their smartphones. The company says the efforts are yielding positive results, with spending by loyalty members up by 8 percent in the latest quarter.

In addition to this, the payback of suggestive selling or upselling – where you would try to get someone to upgrade their order or add dessert (McDonald’s I’m looking at you) is much more successful than if someone tried to do it over the phone. This is because on an appliance you don’t feel like they are rushed or are pressuring you, also, it’s a machine that has no feelings, hence they will continue to ask every single customer even if they have been rejected before.

I guess, there is always a trade-off – with ordering food online you do get the convenience as well as some pretty good offers (sometimes) while giving up more money than you would have normally spent. There really is no such thing as a free lunch!

Compulsive junk food eater, football watcher, and book reader. Hate the unicorn trend, love laughing at my own jokes; also, sometimes I write about food.