Long gone are the days that all meals are prepared and eaten at home. Lifestyles have evolved to a state of “on demand” and smartphone technology has enabled that transition. Nowhere is that expectation higher than among the Millennial generation.
Fueled by a world of “apps,” it’s no longer necessary to travel anywhere to “shop” for anything from toothpaste to designer clothing, as companies like Amazon can bring the world to us, often with same-day home delivery. If there is any doubt as to the magnitude, or impact, of the shift in buying behavior, consider the data gathered by one major casual dining chain during a controlled 90-day test.
Within the same market area, half the stores contracted with Uber Eats for home delivery, while the other half maintained their standard take-out offering. Same-store sales for the 90-day period showed a decline of 7% in the stores offering standard take-out (consistent with chainwide performance), while the stores offering Uber Eats achieved an increase of 9% for that same period – a 16% swing in results! Similar results have been reported anecdotally by other chains, confirming that home delivery cannot be ignored.
Many challenges face the foodservice operator wishing to offer home delivery. Some operators have turned to companies such as Uber and Amazon who promote home meal delivery by leveraging their existing and powerful logistics technologies. Others are considering self-delivery vs. 3rd party, how (or if) to charge for the cost of delivery, integration with POS systems, menu impact, maintaining brand image, and most importantly: how to maintain food quality for the 20-30 minutes in transit. It is especially critical with french fries, wings, or other fried foods where maintaining texture is essential to the taste profile.
The same chain that performed the 90-day test with Uber Eats also performed tests of packaging, to determine which closed package would minimize sogginess of their fries and maintain original food texture, while still retaining temperature. The chart summarizes the test results.
The Crisp Food Container by Anchor Packaging of St Louis, MO is a patented technology currently in use at over 10,000 stores. Originally developed to keep fried chicken hot and crisp in supermarket displays for up to 4 hours, it has been recently adapted for the restaurant industry to address the challenges associated with home delivery. Chains using this product have reported results that surpass any other packaging alternative.
With the paradigm shift in consumer behavior and expectation, it was inevitable that the food category would be affected. Now is the time to evaluate all options for menu, order technology, delivery method, and packaging.