In mid-October, Facebook made headlines in the food delivery space by launching Order Food, a competitor to other tech giant delivery offerings such as UberEATS, Amazon Restaurants, and Google Maps Delivery. Users can visit the Explore section of the Facebook app to order meals from local restaurants, which are delivered by fulfillment partners like Delivery.com, DoorDash, and EatStreet. At least 10 brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Restaurants US are piloting the feature, including Genius brand Panera and Gifted brand Chipotle.
But what’s even more brilliant about the social media giant’s entry into food delivery? Its quiet testing of the feature within Facebook Messenger.
Through text recognition, Facebook Messenger identifies when users send messages like “I’m really hungry” to each other and prompts them to order food, the same way the app prompts users to set reminders for meetups with friends or hail an Uber.
With Order Food, Facebook has found yet another way to turn social interactions—even private conversations—into commercial opportunities. Facebook is simultaneously pushing Messenger Platform 2.2, which provides businesses hoping to reach the app’s 1.3 billion users with more sophisticated chatbots and other customer service features.
While many social commerce features suffer from slow adoption by both brands and users, if Facebook continues to feature Order Food in Messenger, the platform could grow rapidly. The ability to reach consumers who have already demonstrated purchase intent places restaurant brands and smaller delivery services in front of a massive set of engaged users. Although Facebook Order Food remains largely unproven, top brands already partnering with the service recognize the platform’s potential.