Online food delivery is booming across the nation, with consumers ordering from a wide range of local eateries and national restaurants through third-party delivery apps like Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats. The perks for customers are numerous: more options, convenience, and the ability to send meals to friends and loved ones — anywhere in the world. But for restaurant owners, embracing online delivery means a major shift in how they operate their businesses and engage with their customers.
In the most common model of online food delivery, a third-party app will display a list of available restaurants in close proximity to a customer’s location. When the customer selects a restaurant, their order is sent directly to that establishment to be prepared and delivered by the platform’s delivery agents. This type of food delivery service accounts for the majority of online orders.
These third-party food delivery apps also function as marketing platforms that amplify a restaurant’s reach to new customers. By signing up for a service such as Uber Eats, DoorDash or Ritual, restaurants can put their menu in front of millions of customers who may not have discovered them otherwise.
Many millennials are driving the growth of the food delivery industry. Approximately 75 percent of this population uses a food-delivery app, according to recent studies from the National Restaurant Association. Millennials tend to gravitate toward online delivery services that offer more customization options, like customizable toppings or sauces and personalized greetings on the receipt. In addition, millennials prefer to avoid contact with other diners, making them ideal candidates for online ordering and delivery.
Adding delivery services can be expensive for restaurants, especially if they are offered on a per-order basis rather than a flat monthly fee. As a result, it’s important for restaurant owners to carefully consider the value they are offering to their customers and how the costs of delivery might impact their bottom line.
While there are plenty of benefits to introducing online food delivery, it’s not an approach that should be pursued by every restaurant. Some operations simply don’t lend themselves to this sort of service, particularly those with limited seating or a limited number of items on their menu. In these cases, it might be more beneficial to focus on improving in-person dining experiences.
Another thing to keep in mind with online food delivery is the potential for longer wait times. This is primarily due to traffic, weather, how busy a restaurant is and the complexity of a customer’s order. While this can be frustrating for customers, it’s a reality that restaurants must embrace.
Another way that restaurants can minimize wait times is to take advantage of the efficiencies gained when multiple deliveries are consolidated into one trip, or “stacked.” Virtual concierge services such as Rappi and Deliveroo offer this option by pairing a restaurant order with other errands (such as dry cleaning or grocery shopping). DoorDash and Uber Eats are also beginning to experiment with order stacking. online food delivery