While third-party delivery has provided a nice revenue stream for restaurants, another, possibly even more lucrative area for restaurants, the rise in ordering food pickup through online ordering system apps.
These can be functions on your business’s website through which people can place orders. Some restaurants even have apps that people can install on their phones that let people place orders directly from their restaurant. Third-party companies, such as Ritual, are also strong in the space and allow a restaurant with no infrastructure to also compete. In 2018, carry-out orders made up 15% and delivery orders made up 2% of full service restaurants’ sales according to Statista, and slightly more than half of both carry-out and delivery orders are made from mobile or online apps. These online features appeal to the younger set’s love of instant gratification, and has a few benefits to both customers and restaurants. Online orders tend to be more accurate, since they don’t rely on a clear phone connection and the restaurant being quiet, and they are very convenient for anyone on the go. As with all technological change, though, this trend is changing the food service industry in unexpected ways.
Customer Service Changes
Online ordering frees front-of-house staff from having to take phone orders. Since most full service restaurants still get most of their sales from in-person orders, this is good. However, the online apps are encouraging many people to order the meals as carry-out, and this means that restaurants will have to shift some of their focus from training the front-of-house staff to use the friendly touch to increasing the speed and efficiency of the back-of-house staff. It will also help to emphasize to the waitstaff that the small interaction of handing people their order can be done in a friendly way. This may require your employees to develop new routines and processes and it may mean hiring more line cooks versus waitstaff.
Restaurant Lay-Out Changes
With more people jumping the line with their online ordering apps, many restaurants may find it wise to provide specific areas for these customers to pick up their orders in order to increase efficiency. Over all, this may lead to many full-service restaurants to shrink their sit-down dining areas since there will be more people ordering food to-go, and it may encourage fast food restaurants to provide less space for lining up to place an order since they won’t need to accommodate long lines. This opens the way for smaller restaurants and space provided for other things, such as merchandise.
Restaurant Equipment Changes
The emphasis on speedy order-filling for to-go orders can sometimes leave food cooling as customers get caught in traffic or struggle to find parking. There will also be the threat of cold foods wilting under the warm glare of the restaurant lights. It’s a sad truth that customers will rate you poorly for the change in appearance and freshness, and so restaurants will have to invest in food containers and warming gadgets that can keep food at the proper temperature until the customer can eat their meal.
These are just a few of the changes that the popularity of online ordering could bring. But only time will show all the changes to come.