Emerging Concepts

Restaurants’ Cost of Lost To-Go Orders

We all know the growing importance of digital sales and creating solid pickup and delivery services. According to Zippia, online ordering has grown 300% faster than dine-in in the last decade, and the average person in America spends $67 per week on takeout. Over 50% of adults say delivery and takeout are essential to their lives. 

So, how are restaurants doing in this arena? For some, it was a major shift brought on by the pandemic. For others, their pickup, delivery, and online ordering segment was well-established and already in full swing. 

Recent data shared by Restaurant Business, however, suggests there are challenges still to be faced and conquered. The report states that up to 3% of digital sales are lost every week in restaurants due to cancellations. And these cancellations are usually due to overwhelmed kitchens or extended deliveries, resulting in orders that take too long to get to the customer. They are also due to staff not accepting orders during the last hour of operations, concerned about getting the meal made and dispatched before the restaurant shuts down.

That, all around, sounds painful. 

Let’s look at how to make takeout and delivery a little smoother—our 2024 New Year’s resolution.

Optimizing Your Menu for Takeout and Delivery

The first step is creating a menu separate from your dine-in menu. While it retains your brand’s identity, it’s a smaller menu precisely engineered to support meals that travel well. Remember that steaks and burgers may continue cooking, and fried foods will get soggy if not adequately ventilated. 

Including photos is also critical. Grubhub suggests that you can increase your takeout and delivery sales by 65% just by adding photos. Other essential strategies include mouthwatering menu descriptions and separating your menu into distinct categories so customers can scan it to find what they’re looking for. Suggesting add-ons offers the customized ordering today’s consumers grave, plus gets you a higher-average check size.

In December 2023, Grubhub released its annual report, analyzing millions of takeout and delivery orders to determine the most popular orders of the year. Here are a few of their findings according to Restaurant Business:

  • Spice took front and center with over 53 million items seeing “additional spice,” please. The top contenders in this arena were spicy chicken sandwiches, spicy potato soft tacos, spicy tuna rolls, drunken noodles, and hot and sour soup.
  • French fries were the number one side dish, with classic cut fries topping the charts.
  • Pickles were a food favorite, with 6.9 million orders.
  • The top five pizzas, in their ranking order, were cheese, margherita, pepperoni, buffalo chicken, and Hawaiian.

Create a Takeout Area

Creating a specific place for takeout and delivery drivers to pick up food helps manage the flow of traffic and reduce potential bottlenecks. Dedicate one person during each shift to handle the influx, including entering orders from third-party apps, like DoorDash and Grubhub, into your POS system. The faster they’re entered into the system (accurately), the quicker the kitchen can start preparing. 

Preparing Your BOH

Monitor the workload to determine the busiest times and if additional staff is required. Keep the communication channels open so your staff feels comfortable sharing issues that may arise. Look for ways to create a streamlined BOH for to-go orders, whether that translates to additional prep or optimizing the layout. 

If it looks like you’ll be hiring, consider the benefits of a dedicated online ordering position that organizes, expedites, and prioritizes these orders while communicating with the FOH.

Working With a Platform that Integrates Digital Ordering

Creating a successful takeout and delivery strategy can seem overwhelming. For this reason, many restaurants look for help, working with companies that create a digital storefront and all-in-one online ordering platform. One example of this type of integration is Chowly

Digital orders integrate directly with the POS, whether from the Chowly online ordering solution and your customized website or third-party delivery services. It also enables your customers to order from your Google page and lets your staff manage all third-party menus from the POS system. The result? No more missed orders or juggling multiple tablets.


How can I increase my restaurant delivery orders?

You can boost your online sales and increase delivery orders by providing a seamless customer experience. This includes an easy ordering system, prompt preparation, food that travels well, and on-time delivery. To achieve this, some restaurants work only with third-party delivery platforms. Others, to increase profits, set up their own delivery service or utilize a hybrid approach. It also requires optimizing your website and your online presence.

How can I make my food delivery successful?

There’s a lot that goes into food delivery. This includes limiting your menu to food that travels well, packing it correctly, and mindful chefs that consider extra cooking time when it’s in transport. Ideally, integrate your POS with a suitable platform that integrates digital ordering and then, market your services. Whew. I’m tired already. 

Emerging Concepts
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