Wix Buys Its Way Into Online Ordering

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9bc178_9737c4bcb5cd54861daa2377c139d60bWix, the Isreali-based website builder, has quietly pushed into the wider small business technology market since going public last year. The company snapped up a mobile app builder in May, added a booking system for hotels a month later, and launched Wix Hive, which allows users to store data from various applications on their site into a centralized cloud database.

Now, you can add online ordering to that list. The company has acquired OpenRest, a small Israeli-American startup that provides restaurants with the ability to accept orders through a website or mobile app. The two founders of the bootstrapped company, Yoav Amit and Danny Leshem, will join Wix as directors of its restaurant effort.

In a phone interview, Eric Mason, director of marketing communications at Wix, says the company plans to integrate the technology into both its website and mobile site builder product. He says the online order capability will also append a forthcoming app development platform built around technology from Appixia, another startup it acquired in March of this year.

“Bringing in OpenRest is a different tactic to accomplish the same strategy  [with our hotel product]— to allow restaurants to gain that traction themselves and avoid going through a Grubhub, or another third-party system,” said Mason. “We believe that while the Grubhub’s are good for search or find, but the majority of people order from restaurants they already know.”

In many ways, the food ordering sector is shaping up to be structurally similar — albeit, different — than the travel industry where online travel agencies such as Kayak account for a large amount of booking traffic. The relative commoditization, higher price point, and infrequency of air travel makes a third-party aggregator extremely valuable for consumers.

In food ordering, the products remain extremely differentiated. By the time a user gets to a comparable product — say, sushi or Pad Thai — there’s simply not enough competition to make aggregation as an important.  And yet, while brands such as Domino’s and Taco Bell have found success running ordering through an owned-property, the fragmentation of the small business market still presents a challenge for independent operators.

However, there’s a chance that may change. A direct integration with a search firm such as Yelp could solve that problem. The company has rolled out integrations with a handful of business software firms, and leadership says it plans to expand the program over the next few months.

Either way, Wix is poised to become a fairly important player in small business marketing industry, providing a strong install base to upsell both owned and third-party technologies.

Steven Jacobs is Street Fight’s deputy editor.