Has anything rocked the restaurant boat quite as much as delivery?
From getting brands into people’s houses and expanding an operator’s reach into other towns and cities, through to the struggle of getting feet in the door and the eyebrow-raising commission rates that some operators pay their delivery company – it has well and truly made its mark and it’s not going away. Whether you’ve added it as a stream to your business or not, you can’t deny or ignore its impact.
Acknowledging this has led to some serious goings-on. Innovation, forward-thinking and development have taken us into what could be considered the second era of takeaway and delivery, so much so that the very core of the stream – to pick up food at Location A and deliver it to Location B – is just the beginning. Much of the activity is down to technological advancements.
May I tech your order?
As takeaway and delivery has become mainstream, models are becoming more sophisticated. Operators can now integrate their takeaway and delivery orders with their EPOS, even from a third-party delivery company, which not only streamlines the order process and frees up the precious time of staff, but can give operators a vast amount of data to refer back to in order to review customer behaviour.
“It’s important that delivery data is tracked correctly and integrated with the EPOS data to give an informed understanding of how customers use the various channels, such as eat-in, collection and delivery, together with how they purchase,” says Revenue Management Solutions CEO John Oakes. “These insights will also enable operators to develop channel-specific communication to ensure consumers return again and again.”
Further opportunity comes from the use of tablets for receiving orders, which enables operators to create a virtual brand in addition to their mother brand. This has the potential to increase sales in traditionally slow periods of the day and expand a business’ appeal to different types of customer, such as adding a vegan brand beside your core offering.
“It means you can have a second offering from your existing chefs, existing restaurant and existing food supplies, so you can cut down on wastage,” says a Deliveroo spokesperson. “Say it doesn’t work – there isn’t a risk because you don’t have capital expenditure. Just shut down and try again – and it doesn’t damage the mother brand.”
In addition to expanding delivery opportunities, technology is providing a solution to some of the key challenges faced by restaurateurs when offering delivery. Ensuring the food is of a high standard should be a top priority for those who make it, and those who deliver it. Much of this comes down to how long the food spends travelling from A to B.
“A key issue facing restaurants is ensuring that the quality of food on the customers’ plate at home is just as good as they would expect to receive if eating in,” says Andrea Deutschmanek, country marketeer for UK and Ireland at Lamb Weston. “With many businesses delivering a fixed radius from their premises, there are a number of factors that can produce delays to a customer’s order, such as traffic jams and journeys to out of the way addresses, which can allow standards to slip.”
Technology has the ability to track and predict travel times, but thought needs to be put into how packaging can reduce the risk of an unsatisfactory delivery. One of the biggest trends in packaging has been the demand to make it eco-friendly, which Just Eat responded to with sauce sachets made from seaweed instead of plastic. This has also demanded action on the use of single-use plastic cutlery and straws.
“This year, we introduced the opportunity to opt out of plastic single-use cutlery and 92% of consumers now opt out,” reveals Deliveroo. “That’s helped by the fact that the opt-out is default on the app, but our view was: we’re the delivery guys, so we can’t tell restaurants they shouldn’t use them, but we can empower consumers and work with restaurants to recognise that this is what consumers want and this is how they can meet it.”
Tech a chance on delivery
With so much activity in aiding restaurants and developing the delivery experience, why does it still cause a sour taste in some sceptics’ mouths? There continues to be discussion over the level of control an operator has on the delivery, as well as concern over the impact delivery will have on the kitchen, logistics, consumer spend and the number of people physically eating in the restaurant itself.
“Operators are responding well to the takeaway delivery boom, but know they need to manage the demand very carefully,” says the NPD Group’s Cyril Lavenant. “With consumers spending around half as much as when they visit a restaurant in person – people typically cut out starters, desserts and drinks – a delivery order is potentially less lucrative to a large foodservice business and can reduce an operator’s profitability. Restaurants also must pay commission to the delivery company, and this impacts profits, too. Whatever way you look at it, takeaway delivery is definitely changing the shape of Britain’s foodservice industry.”
Deliveroo argues that many of its partners are seeing like-for-like growth and delivery is playing its part in a way that many may not have considered.
“People say it’s going to stop consumers going into restaurants, but the evidence suggests the opposite,” says Deliveroo. “When people have a choice of whether to go out and eat, get fish and chips, get a frozen ready meal, get a meal kit delivered, or get ingredients to cook fresh – delivery gets restaurants into more of these meal occasions.”
On the flip side, if you take Deliveroo’s argument that delivery is a worthwhile revenue stream, operators can just offer it independently of aggregators such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat, through white-label delivery.
“White-label delivery utilises a combination of a B2B online ordering platform, to take orders through a restaurant’s own website, and a logistics specialist to fulfil delivery on a restaurant’s behalf,” says Orderswift co-founder Matt Gilbert. “This keeps a direct relationship with the customer and offers a significant saving on costs versus the fees of third-party platforms.”
This means that consumers are more in contact directly with the restaurant itself and the operator can face fewer costs by managing more of the process themselves.
Third-party companies have acknowledged the demand for stronger operator-consumer interaction. Just Eat’s Orderpad technology enables its partners to send ‘your order is on its way’ notifications. Meanwhile, Deliveroo has appealed to operators who offer delivery with their own rider fleets, with the launch of Marketplace+, which essentially enables operators to be listed on Deliveroo and continue to use their own drivers or take advantage of Deliveroo’s network.
As we enter an era where someone can ask Siri to order their previous order on Just Eat, or delivery is made part of the way by drone, the growth of this market looks set to continue.
Read the September issue of Casual Dining Magazine