Carryout and delivery took off during the pandemic and has only grown in the years since. Here’s how restaurants can make the most of these offerings to expand their businesses.

The carryout and delivery market is worth billions of dollars and is only growing, so industry professionals should design their restaurants around it. Packaging, order accuracy and flow are common major pain points they can focus on. Even minor changes can increase sales and customer loyalty.

1. Optimize the Kitchen Layout 

North America’s online food delivery market had a value of over $2.62 billion in 2021, with industry experts projecting it to reach over $53 billion by 2027. Professionals that haven’t already restructured their kitchens in response should start. 

Flow to crucial areas should be optimized to make it easier for carryout and delivery orders to get out as quickly as possible. A galley, island or zone layout could be added depending on the available space.

2. Create a Dedicated Waiting Area

Restaurants should have a dedicated waiting area for third-party delivery drivers and customers picking up their carryout orders. Often, these people end up standing in front of the counter until their food is ready, discouraging others from coming up and ordering. 

This can distract the hostesses or servers from effectively doing their jobs. Redesigning the restaurant with a waiting area could minimize this pain point and improve sales. Experts project restaurants could increase profits by 50 percent with a significant interior renovation. 

3. Separate the Packaging Area

A separate order-packaging area for carryout and delivery is essential to maintain accuracy and timeliness. It should have packaging, condiments, utensils and napkins in one place so workers can quickly fulfill the order. There should also be a dedicated area to place finished orders so those coming in to pick up can see their food is ready.

4. Redesign Online Menus

People can often only call to order carryout or delivery because many restaurants don’t have an ordering platform. Ideally, they should have a dedicated website to let customers view their options before ordering. 

In a study on purchase intentions during the global pandemic, researchers found a direct link between organized online menus and profit. Items with clear descriptions and appealing images significantly increase the likelihood of a sale compared to those without.

5. Establish a POS Checklist

While those eating in-house can send food back if it comes to their table with an incorrect side or sauce, those carrying out or ordering delivery must typically keep what they get. As a result, a minor packaging mistake can cause them to think less of the establishment.

Around 66 percent of customers blame inaccuracies on the restaurant instead of the third-party delivery platform, with almost 20 percent vowing to permanently take their business elsewhere. They order food online because it’s convenient, meaning they’ll be incredibly displeased if it’s anything less. 

Simple additions to the point of sale (POS) machine could increase sales and customer loyalty. Implementing an order checklist during the packaging stage and automatically sending delivery orders to the kitchen can increase accuracy, saving the restaurant from paying for refunds or remakes.

This system can also help restaurants that need help navigating the “special instructions” field from third-party delivery apps. Some POS machines struggle with the format, making it difficult for workers to follow them. Additionally, language barriers often pose a challenge. A preset substitution field could mitigate many of these concerns.

6. Designate an Entrance for Carryout

Third-party delivery drivers and people picking up carryout usually stand in front of the front counter or loiter in the entryway while waiting for their food. A separate entrance could increase flow and help employees fill orders faster, resulting in higher customer satisfaction.

Additionally, organization outside of the carryout entrance could help. Delivery drivers often unintentionally clog the parking lot, discouraging others from dining in. Restaurants should consider adding signs to specific spots to direct them to park out of the way. 

7. Redesign Packaging

Restaurants should personalize their boxes and bags to differentiate themselves from competitors. Doing so can also increase brand awareness and the amount of business they get. Additionally, improving design elements on carryout or delivery packaging can increase food sales and enhance consumers’ perception of them.

8. Offer In-House Delivery

Many restaurants rely on third-party platforms, but it may be time to offer in-house service instead. The providers typically charge high fees, even taking up to 30 percent of the revenue for each online order transaction serviced. This practice often results in an unprofitable system for the restaurant.

On top of being financially beneficial, a redesign appeals to customers. Almost 67 percent of people ordering delivery online in 2021 preferred to go directly through the restaurant rather than use a third-party platform.

9. Establish a Separate Kitchen

Some experts project the global food delivery market will surpass $1 trillion in 2024. Since online orders will only increase, a significant redesign is likely necessary. A ghost kitchen may be the solution, as it allows employees to maximize efficiency.

While most larger chains have one on third-party delivery platforms, many restaurants still need to take advantage of the concept. It may seem like a significant commitment, but it has minimal startup costs because professionals deliberately choose an underutilized space. 

10. Optimize Packaging for Delivery

Many customers don’t order carryout or delivery as much as they would like because they feel they get a subpar experience. Often, their meal is damp with condensation or picks up a plastic taste from the packaging it’s in. Optimizing it with a redesign could be incredibly beneficial.

As of 2022, around 88 percent of adults in the United States say they would purchase more during the online delivery process if the packaging maintained the food’s integrity, flavor and temperature. Redesigning current boxes to improve order quality could dramatically increase sales.

Redesign for Success

Minor and major design changes could significantly improve the flow of operations, increase customer loyalty and boost brand awareness. The carryout and delivery market is only growing, so restaurants should capitalize on its value.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over five years experience writing for the food and beverage industry.

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