More than 15 million people are employed in the US Restaurant industry and while the face to face human interaction hopefully never goes away, online ordering has emerged as a mission-critical feature for restaurants and retailers navigating the ongoing effects of COVID-19. Even before the Pandemic, restaurants were beginning a transformation by adapting to new consumer expectations, such as online ordering, curbside pick-up and more To-Go friendly layouts. These trends combined with teaming up with local delivery services such as Postmates and UberEats have become a popular alternative to “dining out.” Interesting to read recently that UberEats is currently valued at approximately $20 billion and has a presence is more than 670 cities on six continents. With these trends in mind, we have outlined our top 3 best practices to reconfigure your restaurant for online and to-go ordering.
Top 3 Best Practices:
- Reconfigure Your Layout for Take-Out
With social distancing requiring that you strictly limit the number of people inside of your restaurant or retail store, establishing an efficient ordering and pick-up process is key. Incorporating a designated area in your restaurant or retail store for “Take-Out Deliveries” is crucial in the midst of the current Pandemic. A designated and efficiently designed to-go or takeout que allows ownership to not only adhere to CDC socially distancing guidelines but also allows for an efficient and easy method for employees to quickly hand off food to customers coming in to quickly pick up from online ordering separating the pre-ordered customer flow from the typical walk-in customer flow. We recommend setting up a pre-payment system for orders as they eliminate the need to stand at the counter, exchange cash, or touch a pen or payment screen. Quick pick-ups also limit the number of people in your store at any one time.
Having a separate counter for takeout orders is the best strategy for online or pre-ordering, whether it is done with a modern POS system, or from your website. Not only re-configuring your restaurant inside to a modern take out area (which ultimately will increase sales and provide a safe way of dining out), but also look at offering a curb side delivery system outside your restaurant.
- Offer Curb Side Delivery & Utilize Mobile Apps
It is imperative to have a designated area or pathway outside of your restaurant to show customers where to pick up their food in a safe manner. Ensuring there is clear signage (for instance stating “Now Offering Curb Side or Here is what we’re doing for COVID-19”) adding cones, and even flags to let your customers know where to drive up to pick up their food. Additional best practices for curbside pick-up include numbering your parking spots, post your restaurants phone number at parking spots and have customers call upon arrival, and even place their food in the trunk for the customer. Restaurants should also seriously consider creating a separate to-go pathway for local delivery services such as UberEats or Postmates to provide accessible access and order pick up in a quick and efficient manner. Many restaurants are utilizing these approaches by creating a pathway either in front or to the side of their restaurant and utilizing parking lot space as a “drive-thru” delivery pathway for both customers and local delivery services.
With more than 2 billion mobile users, a custom app is one of the most efficient ways to promote restaurants in today’s era. A lot of popular brands such as Starbucks, Chipotle, and Nekter have created their own apps in order to provide customers a quick and easy approach for online ordering. With a restaurant mobile app, you can improve your customer engagement by sending push-notifications. This feature allows you to post updates on the latest deals, offers, and discounts right to your customer’ mobile phones.
- Embrace New Approaches
UberEats has come up with the concept of a virtual kitchen where the platform lists new eateries and certain menu items only available on their app. UberEats entered into the virtual kitchen, or sometimes referred to as “ghost kitchens”, space to help restaurants avoid the high operating costs of opening a new physical space (SCGWest’s specialty) and provide convenience to partnering restaurants by allowing them to use their kitchen space to prepare extra meals and special menu items For instance, UberEats could allow a salad café to also offer sandwiches with minimal changes to the ingredients and kitchen equipment in-store. This café could become a virtual sandwich cafe in the UberEats app while staying a salad café at their physical location. As a result, this concept is beneficial for other food delivery platforms as they can save costs and focus more on product development to identify and offer the most popular cuisines in specific areas.
To add, there is now a new delivery approach in Melbourne Australia where customers can order toasties via PayPal. All customers must do is stand in the drop-off location marked with an X at the specific time and wait for their food to “float-down” to them via parachute. This new delivery approach can both entertain customers and reduce logistics costs.
SCGWest Design and Build Services
Leader in the Development, Site Selection, and Design-Build of Retail, Restaurants, and Medical Offices across the United States. The SCGWest Design and Build process goes through defined stages of completion, resulting in a quality that surpasses industry standards.