If there's one thing that the pandemic has made clear, it's that food delivery and online ordering are here to stay. During the pandemic, folks at home still wanted to support their local restaurants—and contactless delivery options kept them safe while their favorite meals were delivered to their doors.

How can you make sure that your restaurant is using the best online ordering system now and into the future?

Food delivery by the numbers.

2020 was the year of comfort food.

As the pandemic changed how we lived, the appetite for nostalgic comfort food went up, according to OnePoll. Two out of three Americans ate more comfort food—such as pizza, hamburgers, French fries and ice cream—in 2020.

This corresponded with the rise in people using delivery apps to order food. MarketWatch crunched the numbers and found that the pandemic more than doubled food delivery apps' business.

The trends look even rosier. According to Statista, online delivery is expected to rise by more than a third by 2024, whether via an app or directly from a restaurant.

The habits formed during the pandemic will be hard to shake. Your guests got as used to ordering comfort food from their favorite restaurants—and that's likely going to remain entrenched in consumer behavior for years to come. The question is how your restaurant can take advantage of this trend without being taken advantage of.

Adapting to the delivery world.

Your restaurant needs to adapt to take advantage of this change in consumer behavior. Dine-in and takeout service alone won't cut it. If you're not offering delivery, you can bet that your competitor down the street is. And if you're the only restaurant in your area not offering delivery, you're missing out on a huge (and growing) pool of potential guests.

Smaller restaurants without the ability to set up delivery logistics and hire drivers, however, might find themselves unable to access this pool. How does a small restaurant keep pace with its bigger competitors? Food delivery apps have given smaller restaurants a way of accessing this market segment, but smaller players might find the cost of entry too high to think about.

Then there's the matter of getting set up with a delivery partner and changing your systems to suit. Smaller mom and pop shops might not have the time to make this happen, and many have teamed with their POS provider to simplify the process of getting into delivery.

Working with a POS provider can help you ride the online ordering wave by keeping your costs under control and showing you how to make the best use of your guest data.

Lower, predictable costs.

Much of the angst that restaurants have leveled at delivery apps has been about how much money the delivery app takes from each order. Service fees on orders vary wildly, depending on the service area and time of delivery.

Working with a POS provider can keep your delivery costs low—and, more importantly, consistent. Because a POS provider can scale its services, it can cut deals with delivery app companies to benefit your restaurant. For example, they could work with a delivery company to cap service charges below the average rate. A low flat fee keeps your costs down and makes financial forecasting easier.

Guest data and you.

One of the great things about a POS provider is that it can help you recognize the full worth that guest data can provide in growing your business. A POS provider can integrate with your website so guests can order directly from you instead of through a delivery app.

The delivery app doesn't mind. It still gets its cut from taking your food to your guests. But you get the sweetest plum—the guest data, which you can use to refine your marketing strategies and grow your business. For example, if your guests are ordering mostly on weekends, you can retarget your promotions to pump up business on weekdays.

Your website sales can integrate directly into your point-of-sale system, too, meaning you spend less time entering them manually. After all, data entry isn't why you got into the restaurant game.

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