Even before the coronavirus pandemic, you may have considered the benefits of offering meal delivery. Delivery can be a great way to diversify your restaurant’s income and grow brand awareness. Plus, the demand for meal delivery has been growing steadily over the past several years.
But now, with the threat of the novel coronavirus keeping people at home and out of restaurants, meal delivery is playing an especially important role.
At this point, no one is sure how long this pandemic will affect people’s ability and willingness to sit down in restaurants to eat. So even if your restaurant has been doing OK with offering curbside pickup alone — or if your area hasn’t been as restricted by the pandemic — now is still a good time to explore (or re-evaluate) meal delivery options.
There are a growing number of technology tools and cloud integrators that restaurateurs can choose from to manage their delivery orders, but you shouldn’t rush into adopting one app or another. If your delivery services aren’t executed properly, delivery could end up losing your restaurant money or damaging your brand.
Here’s what to consider when it comes to choosing a restaurant cloud integrator for delivery.
The Growing Demand for Meal Delivery
Plenty of people have theorized about why the demand for meal delivery continues to grow, but regardless of the reasons, it’s worth paying attention to the trend.
QSR magazine summed up a few helpful statistics on the growth of meal delivery in this article analyzing the market share of delivery apps:
- Statista pegged revenue in the online food delivery segment to $94.385 billion in 2019. It estimated revenue to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2019–2023) of 9.3 percent, resulting in a market volume of $134.49 billion by 2023.
- Per a report by wealth management and equity research firm UBS, it’s estimated that global online food ordering will expand to $365 billion by 2030. That represents 20 percent growth each year from the current $35 billion reality.
In the past, you may have hesitated to offer delivery due to legitimate worries like these:
- Offering delivery options would affect the quality of the food (for example, your restaurant’s specialty food simply might not travel well)
- Offering delivery might corrupt your brand (for example, plastic utensils and styrofoam might not fit with the upscale vibe of your dining experience)
- Offering delivery might distract from your primary value proposition (expanding into delivery does require a significant investment of time, money, and staff that can distract from your other operations)
- Offering delivery might not be worth it financially due to the fees and other expenses required
However, the growth statistics we just cited suggest that it might be worth reconsidering those hesitations, or finding ways to work around them. Delivery just might be essential to keeping your restaurant relevant in light of new marketplace dynamics.
In-House Delivery vs. Third-Party-App Delivery
The biggest decision that restaurateurs have to make when it comes to choosing a cloud integrator for delivery is whether or not they’ll handle the delivery themselves or use a third party service to deliver meals.
With an in-house delivery system, restaurant managers hire and equip their own drivers and handle orders internally, usually through an existing POS system or specialized, cloud-based delivery app.
If you choose to use a third party service such as DoorDash or UberEats, though, you’ll access delivery data through that service’s app, and completely outsource the delivery logistics to that service’s fleet of contracted drivers.
Some restaurants’ point of sale systems integrate with third party meal delivery apps so that restaurant managers can see the data and orders directly in their own system.
For example, Lightspeed Restaurant and TouchBistro both integrate with the program Deliverect for this service, which allows managers to centralize delivery data and update their online menus and from one centralized location.
Meal Delivery Software Features
Regardless of whether you choose to use your own app or a third-party app for delivery, you’ll want to use a cloud integrator to manage the process. Using a spreadsheet or other kinds of manual tracking is time-consuming, leaves too much room for error, and doesn’t provide for as helpful of a data analysis later.
A good cloud integrator makes the meal delivery process easier for customers, drivers, and restaurant employees.
Here are a few of the features your cloud integrator might offer.
- An online menu - Integrators allow managers to choose which meals and prices to feature for customers who are ordering for delivery or pickup. The best ones make it easy to modify the menu with specials and discounts, and customize it to look the way you want.
- Online ordering and payment - With the best cloud delivery apps, customers can easily submit their orders and payment online.
- Kitchen management features - If the system is integrated with the restaurant’s POS system, the online orders may be automatically sent to the kitchen for preparation along with the restaurant’s other, in-store orders. Some systems have inventory and tracking features that help staff keep track of supplies and orders.
- Delivery management features - Restaurant managers can see where drivers are and where meals have been ordered in real-time. They can also see and adjust the areas where delivery is permitted, and adjust the fees for different delivery zones.
- Driver routing features - Some apps can direct delivery drivers to customers’ locations. They can even use existing map systems to account for things like traffic and suggest optimal routes.
Reports and Success Metrics
As we mentioned earlier, offering meal delivery can be unprofitable and even hurt your restaurant’s brand if you aren’t careful.
Make sure you have the tools to measure your success and expense so that you can recognize problems early and make the appropriate changes. Your delivery dashboard should shed light on things like profit margin, user engagement, customer loyalty, and customer satisfaction.
If the service starts to seem unprofitable, you can consider pivoting to a new cloud integrator, changing up your menu, adjusting your pricing, or otherwise making changes to your process to boost profitability.
Offering meal delivery can be unprofitable and even hurt your restaurant’s brand if you aren’t careful.
All of this can be a lot for restaurant owners to take on, to say the least.
Deciding to launch a delivery program is a lot of work, especially if you’re also going to finally adopt a cloud-based POS system to run the rest of your restaurant.
If you want to make sure that this work doesn’t distract from the job of running a restaurant — and that the software selection and implementation process goes as smoothly as possible — it’s a good idea to work with professionals.
At Cloudscape Technologies, we work with restaurant owners throughout the Middle East to identify the best cloud integrators for their unique needs. We then work on site in person at their restaurant until the software is completely ready to use and the staff is fully trained.