Off-premise orders, such as takeout and delivery, are a growing revenue stream for restaurant operators, especially with third-party services such as GrubHub, Seamless and Uber Eats making it easier than ever before for consumers to order delivery.
Currently, off-premise orders make up 44% of all restaurant sales, and one-quarter of these orders are for delivery, according to Technomic’s On Demand Delivery Study and 2016 Takeout & Off-Premise report. In addition, consumers order food to go 5.5 times per month on average.
For operators, these types of options represent a huge opportunity. But to maximize the potential of these options, it’s critical to ensure that when customers are ordering takeout, they’re getting the same quality of food as if they were eating in the restaurant.
Although appearance and presentation are important to consumers, the most important aspect of a good off-premise dining experience is taste. According to Technomic’s Takeout & Off-Premise report, 60% of consumers say the most critical factor in ordering delivery was that food tasted just as good as dining in, and 45% of consumers say they want food to taste just as fresh as in the restaurant. Restaurants need to ensure that off-premise orders arrive looking and tasting just as good as they would coming straight out from the kitchen.
When customers order delivery, they want the food to arrive at the right temperature and in the right condition. Restaurant operators need to ensure their delivery framework can handle this, because consumers may not sit back quietly if they have a bad experience with a delivery order. Not only are they unlikely to order from the restaurant again, but they may tell others or post about it on social media, which can be detrimental to a restaurant’s reputation.
Although some foods travel better than others, customers may not be fully understanding of the situation. For example, cream-based sauces made with conventional heavy cream may be more likely to separate or curdle by the time they are delivered, which may cause customers to be dissatisfied. While keeping food at the right temperature prior to delivery is crucial, delivery orders also need to be able to withstand reheating—operators should ensure they’re using ingredients that can stand not only the test of not only time, but also temperature.
Consumers’ quest for convenience has made off-premise more important than ever in restaurants. But the stakes are high: Food can be damaged in transit, and the results aren’t pretty (both literally and in terms of the ramifications it can bring on if the customer shares their poor experience online). Restaurant operators need to hone their delivery system to ensure food looks and tastes just as good when it is ordered for takeout—from using proper packaging to choosing the best ingredients for the job, each aspect should be carefully considered so that customer satisfaction is a given
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