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Not only is Facebook a hub for political posts, baby pics galore and all things crowd-sourced, but, beginning today, users will be able to order food for pick-up or delivery with the click of a button. The new service rolls out nationwide on October 13 on iOS, Android and desktop — with plans to expand internationally down the line.
Because people are already going to Facebook for recommendations on where to eat, it makes sense to give users the ability to take action and order — and the tech company has made it pretty easy. After testing the service for the past year, and adding delivery partners along the way, Facebook combines options from a number of food ordering services like Delivery.com and DoorDash, along with restaurants like Chipotle, Panera and Five Guys. That means no more searching through multiple apps to find what you’re looking for; all ordering can be done via Facebook.
Users can search for places they already have in mind, or browse nearby restaurants by visiting the Order Food section in the Explore menu. After perusing culinary options, users select Start Order; if the restaurant offers takeout or delivery with multiple services, users can choose which service they prefer. For example, if you have an account with GrubHub.com, you can easily order with your existing login; if you don’t have an account with that service, you can sign up without leaving the Facebook app.
Alex Himel, Vice President of the Local team at Facebook, answered some questions about how the service will function.
Can you address the idea of privacy when it comes to this new feature? If I order pizza every night via Facebook, will this wind up on my timeline?
AH: Sure, and disclaimer: I ordered a full pizza for myself last week using the product. And if you look at my profile, there’s no evidence of that. We take user privacy really seriously and when you place orders through Facebook, the only person who can see it is you.
When you order from a restaurant we’ll put it in the “Your Restaurants” section, because it’s very common behavior to want to order again from the same restaurant as before, but it is not made public to your friends or to anyone else. What you order, who you order from, how often you order — there’s no data about your order history that is made available to any of your friends on Facebook; only you can see it. We also, as a Facebook policy, do not share data about user activity on Facebook with third parties.
What about sharing with users? After I order from a place can I rate the service and share?
AH: For those, you can go to a Facebook page and you can use the ratings and review products or you can check in or you can post on the wall of the page. If you had a good food-ordering experience or a bad food-ordering experience, you can certainly go to the page to describe that there (and other people would be able to see that). That’s a common behavior on Facebook as well as elsewhere. There currently is no button to share that you placed an order [but] as we move along, if that feature were to exist, it would always be a dialogue that you would have to hit “confirm” on in order for that to get shared.
Maybe one day there would be a feature that allowed you to share something about it, but it would totally be under the user’s control and the expectation would be that they would only share it if they wanted their friends to see.
So right now there’s no social component to this other than that it exists on Facebook platform?
AH: The social component is about decision-making. Your friends check into places, your friends rate places, you can ask your friends in News Feed, you can make a post recommending places you should order food from. We think that’s really valuable for helping people make decisions, but there is no social component of you sharing your experience about it.
Does a restaurant have to be a part of a delivery service to allow ordering through Facebook?
AH: Not all restaurants do delivery; you do not have to offer delivery to be on Facebook. A lot of the restaurants you see you can only get takeout from. But if you want to go through the structure and flow where there’s a menu, you select the menu items and you pay right there, you have to work with one of the third parties.
You can order food, but what if you want to eat in the restaurant? Are making reservations something that you guys are working towards?
AH: This feature is all about ordering food for takeout or delivery. We look at such a common behavior that people have, especially in New York, it’s easy, it’s convenient. We’re trying to service that. There are certainly a number of ways that you interact with restaurants. We are focused right now more on [ordering]. We’re rolling out to the US on Friday and we expect to get a lot of feedback about what’s working well, what’s not working well.
Any plans to expand internationally?
AH: We have billions of users worldwide and we’re trying to help; we’re not just a US company. We’re focused on helping all of our users, so as we evolve, we certainly will be looking internationally. But right now, we’re trying to get the product good in one market. And once we feel good about that, we will figure out where to go from there.
All photos courtesy of Facebook
Will you try out this new feature? Let us know in the comments below.
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