In the third-party delivery world, it can be easy for a restaurant brand to get lost – or even just diluted in a sea of other dining possibilities. Uber Eats recently announced that it is weeding out several thousand virtual restaurant listings that are basically replica menus being promoted under different virtual brands, Restaurant Business reports. This is allowing some restaurants to occupy a larger digital footprint than they merit, while crowding out smaller restaurants. While the step is a positive for smaller restaurants with a single brand, it also underlines the power of branded apps for restaurants looking for footing in a crowded market. According to the research site FinancesOnline, the number of people using food delivery apps in the United States is expected to reach 54 million this year, up from 44 million in 2021. Restaurants must have a strong online presence, and yet it’s becoming more difficult (and important) to stand out. As a recent whitepaper from Fast Casual emphasizes, relying on third parties for digital ordering can cost restaurants money and opportunity. Bad service from the third-party provider can be perceived as a negative experience with your restaurant. By farming out the ordering and delivery process to third parties, restaurants also lose valuable customer data they could use to build loyalty with their guests. If you don’t already have your own branded app, consider partnering with a provider that can allow you to connect with customers, build your loyalty program, sell gift cards, connect with them through geolocation and build an overall online and app-based ordering experience that you can control.