For too long, consumers and restaurants have been getting the short end of the third-party delivery stick, paying exorbitant fees and enduring practices that stifle the heart and soul of the industry. The pandemic has shown us that the industry is at a cross-roads – we can continue on in the way that we have before and let delivery aggregators control the market, or we can use this time to work towards a future where food delivery becomes a competitive edge accessible to all restaurants, large and small.
Here are a few trends I’m seeing that will make this future a reality.
- New Delivery Channels to Enhance the Experience and Reach the On-the-Go Consumer:
What if you could order your favorite pizza via a Tweet? Or use your Alexa to get your burgers delivered to your door, hot and fresh? Food ordering systems are advancing, and consumers want to reach their favorite eateries however and whenever is easiest for them. Restaurants are adopting sophisticated technologies to order food via a Siri command or Google Assistant to make the process feel more personal. The assistant can respond with questions such as which toppings to add to the pizza or special notes for delivery.
Gen Z and millennials are already spending hours on social media. For these consumers in particular, making a restaurant order through Facebook messenger can be much simpler and more convenient than having to go to another website or calling the restaurant. Too many steps in the customer journey can lead to loss of interest, and in turn, sales.
- Self-Delivery: the Future of Restaurants
Food delivery has been the pandemic savior. Restaurant owners have had to learn to take the delivery process more seriously, and take ownership of it. By owning the delivery process and avoiding third-party services, the restaurant has more control over the dining experience, from sanitation standards to the driver’s whereabouts.
Due to the high demand for food delivery, efficiency is a big advantage of owning the delivery platform and fleet. While services like DoorDash will deliver one order to one customer at a time, drivers as part of a restaurant’s own fleet would be able to deliver double or even triple deliveries made in one trip. Technology like AI is making this whole process even more efficient by optimizing orders to the delivery driver’s schedule, as well as drivers’ individual delivery routes.
- Big Data’s Big Impact
Big data can help restaurant businesses learn about their customers in order to offer a better, more personalized experience and optimize efficiencies across the entire operation. Part of the process is collecting data about customer preferences from past engagements including what consumers order, on what day, and time. When a customer complains about a delivery, besides fixing the error immediately, it’s necessary to log the information into a customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
Take for example when a family has a baby that sleeps early or keeps a dog in the yard. If that information is entered into a database, the person making the deliver will automatically know not to ring the doorbell after 6 pm or to proceed with caution upon entering the yard. Once the restaurant has the data and knows how to use it correctly, they can avoid mistakes and actually improve the customer satisfaction by knowing what to expect in advance and having extra consideration of different customer living situations. Learning what customers need is a big key to success and can make a great positive impact on loyalty and the bottom line.
- More Competition Between Established Brands and Mom and Pops
In the past, only big brands could afford to buy new technologies for their restaurants. Today, technology is getting cheaper and more personal and customizable. Any restaurant can add an online ordering platform to provide another way for their customers to order food, or integrate a loyalty program that offers special promotions via dedicated apps.
Another powerful tool that can be implemented is a smart artificial intelligent kitchen that connects with the delivery fleet, and offers customers a live tracker so they can view their order from the moment the order is placed, until the delivery is made. These small technology improvements can go a long way, and can definitely level the playing field between big brands and mom and pop restaurants.
Two things are known to be true: people love dining-in but they also love having a relaxing night in without having to worry about the dishes. Deliveries are not going anywhere. In fact, restaurants are incorporating innovative new features such as tracking and contactless delivery to make the experience as positive and memorable as possible.
We all want our orders to be delivered fast, mistake-free and as tasty as if we were sitting in the restaurant. Investing in these new technologies can make this a reality for patrons, all while paying dividends in business efficiency and productivity.
About the Author
Ido Levanon is CEO of Dragontail Systems.
photo by pexels-gustavo-fring