How restaurant brands can elevate their customer experience
You don’t have to be in the restaurant business to know that nowadays, food delivery is more prevalent than gluten-free pasta and meatless hamburgers combined. Gone are the days when delivery was synonymous with pizza. Now, any type of food, from sushi to acai bowls, is available for doorstep delivery through third-party vendors like GrubHub, DoorDash and Postmates.
Restaurant operators already know how important it is to utilize the digital space to stay strong in the game, and these services give many the chance to jump right onto the delivery bandwagon with ease. Still, many restaurant chains, such as Jimmy John’s and Domino’s, are opting to implement their own delivery services. So, what does the future hold for the two different methods of delivery? A deeper dive into the landscape points to self-delivery as the key to a more positive customer experience, and therefore, increased brand loyalty and sales.
Current Industry Trends
Customers today, more than ever before, want to enjoy restaurant-quality food from the comfort of their own homes, and this prospect scares many businesses who view delivery as a threat to their on premise sales. However, studies show delivery is not replacing dine-in orders, but rather replacing home cooked meals and ultimately, increasing total restaurant sales.
It’s obvious that restaurants today need to implement delivery in order to compete effectively in the crowded space. It’s particularly important that they also offer online or mobile ordering capabilities. The online food delivery segment, currently valued at an already massive $94 billion, is estimated to grow to $134 billion by 2023. So, with delivery being a must, where should restaurants place their stock?
Where Delivery Stands Now
One undeniable advantage associated with third-party delivery platforms is that they help restaurants get their delivery operations up and running quickly and easily. The vendors also help operators reduce their labor and insurance costs, and provides those restaurants with little to no marketing budget brand visibility on a widely used platform. However, while being placed on the same page as well-known brands is beneficial for small restaurants that want to establish their presence, larger chains see the attention to their competition as a blatant downside.
Possibly one of the largest challenges associated with third-party delivery platforms is the fees they impose on operators, sometimes amounting to 25 to 30 percent of a restaurant’s operating costs. This means that those restaurants already struggling to keep their doors open might actually be losing money by offering delivery through third-parties.
Beyond the financial woes, delivery vendors don’t provide restaurant operators with any say over the delivery process or customer experience. Once the food leaves the restaurant, the operators have no control over temperature, mode of transportation and arrival time, or the customer service skills of the driver. With no direct connection or loyalty to the brand, there’s not much incentive for drivers to deliver food quickly or act politely towards the end consumer.
What does the future hold for third-party vendors?
Third-party delivery services are in large part responsible for establishing the food delivery craze, but this has been done on the backs of restaurants themselves. At this stage in their lives, well-capitalized third-party companies are now under immense pressure to continue their growth, which is putting restaurants at risk.
For example, some vendors have begun offering subscription services that allow customers to set up a membership with a flat monthly delivery fee instead of shelling out fees per order. With some individual delivery fees exceeding $6, these subscription services can be a great incentive for customers who frequently order food. While this may mean more delivery orders for the restaurants, more than anything, these offerings are set up to help the delivery apps generate revenue.
What does the future hold for self-delivery?
In 2019, when we envision the future, self-driving cars, service robots and drone-filled skies may come to mind. In the case of food delivery, this might not be so far off. Today, food delivery is one of the hottest markets for technological advancements, likely to be disrupted by autonomous vehicles and delivery drones. With many third-party services already testing these innovations, it would seem as if this new technology could leave self-delivery in the dust, but not without a high price tag.
Whether these advancements prove to be a success is still to be determined, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the age of tech, you can’t replace humans on an emotional scale. Great marketing, branding and customer experience will always operate around human emotion. At first, it might seem cool to see a drone dropped a burrito at your door, but consumers really do value a personal connection to what they are purchasing. A drone can’t offer a memorable smile or engaging conversation, just like a self-driving car can’t necessarily tell you if ketchup is included in the bag, or if the pizza is truly gluten free.
Even if down the line, restaurants across the board could afford their own branded delivery technologies, the value of a positive relationship between the brand and end-consumer must not be overlooked. An elevated customer experience is really the only way to ensure customer loyalty.
Enter: ZiPixy, a disruptive workforce engagement platform that enables restaurants to enjoy the flexibility of the gig economy and fully capitalize on the online delivery boom while keeping their operations in-house. By working directly with the restaurant itself, ZiPixy intercepts online orders, creates the driver’s route, and communicates with the customer as the driver completes the order. With this approach to delivery, a uniformed team member trained by the restaurant delivers the brand-intended experience to the customer.
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