Some 755 million food deliveries were made in 2018, an increase of 210 million - or 39% - since 2015, according to the NPD Group. And the numbers continue to grow. Zonal's latest GO Technology report, a quarterly survey by CGA that tracks the hospitality technology trends of 5,000 UK adults, identified that 28% of British consumers are now ordering more food deliveries than they did a year ago, with 44% of those using online channels.
Click and collect is also emerging as a potential revenue driver for hospitality operators. The GO Technology report found that 35% of consumers see it as a convenient way to pick up a meal when there's no time to prepare food and 40% as a good alternative to a traditional takeaway when travelling home.
And while it's still in its infancy compared to delivery - one in five have used click and collect, compared to the 58% who have ordered through the likes of Uber Eats and Deliveroo - restaurants who do embrace click and collect have the potential of greater rewards.
"The demographic alignment with delivery consumers is 90%, but the margins tend to be more favourable," says Zonal Marketing Technologies commercial director David Charlton. "Also, click and collect consumers are more loyal to the brands they like (48%) compared to the all-consumer average (36%), so repeat visits are to be won if a customer's experience is good."
Click and collect also has another major benefit over delivery - footfall. "Just setting foot inside your restaurant immediately creates further engagement with your brand above what they have ordered, hopefully encouraging them to return in future. Being in the restaurant also helps waiters to build a human relationship with the customer," says HOSPA chief executive Jane Pendlebury.
Jerome Laredo, senior vice-president of EPoS provider Lightspeed, agrees. "When restaurants adhere to popular online delivery services, they're at their mercy as far as customer service goes. So, if a driver takes longer than expected, or arrives with cold food, it reflects poorly on the restaurant. Whereas with click and collect, the restaurant's staff are still the only touchpoint customers have to interact with, giving them 100% control over the customer experience.
"But I wouldn't say click and collect is better than delivery. They cater to different needs. They both have pros and cons. The combination of both covers all bases and is the key to success."
If either - or both - are employed, it all adds up to increased revenue, according to Samantha Weller, marketing manager at Tevalis. "Something that all operators want to see across their restaurant is an increase in revenue. Introducing an additional platform to increase revenue stream is just one way to experience exactly that. Bespoke mobile applications are no longer just an option for quick service operations; it has become a serious area of consideration for businesses across all sectors.
"More and more of us want to enjoy our favourite food from home and for operations not offering an app to their audiences, they're simply missing the opportunity to increase sales."
Built to order
Getting delivery and click and collect right requires an EPoS system capable of integration with the ordering system being used - whether that's a proprietary pre-order app or a third-party delivery platform - so menus are synced and orders get pushed into the EPoS system automatically. Otherwise, diners might order something that isn't available and staff members have to key in click-and-collect or delivery orders manually, slowing things down and leaving significant room for error.
As Akin Kayim, product manager for EPoS provider Hoist, says. "You save time by not preparing and sending out incorrect orders, which ultimately reduces complaints and increases customer satisfaction and loyalty."
A good EPoS system will provide both its own digital ordering functionality and the ability to integrate aggregators. Andromeda, for example, offers a branded ordering platform, which helps restaurants save on high commission rates and keep control of customer data, but can also drive an Uber Eats menu from the EPoS menu, while allowing for descriptions and product images and increasing pricing to recover part or all of the aggregator's fee.
Similarly, PointOne EPoS also offers both options. Its online ordering module enables customers to order and pay via the operator's website, but if the operator wants to outsource delivery, the system integrates with Deliveroo, so once a customer orders from Deliveroo, the order comes directly to the operator's EPoS to be fulfilled. "The advantage is there is no re-keying the order manually from the Deliveroo tablet, which cuts order processing time from an average 2.5 minutes to 30 seconds," says sales and partnership manager Paul Berryman.
Turn up the volume
For James Slatter, EMEA managing director at Agilysys, one of the biggest challenges of implementing delivery or click and collect is the process of scaling up. Can your business accommodate the increased order volume?
He says using a KDS (Kitchen Display System) is one of the best methods for effectively managing the increased order volume. "It uses real-time kitchen productivity data and helps facilitate internal communication," he explains.
"By digitally updating the kitchen and service staff once an order is complete, it's easier for restaurants to manage customer expectations. The restaurant manager can also set specific ETAs using this real-time data and parameters for kitchen order flow may also be adjusted, identifying how much the kitchen can produce in a given period."
This production data helps managers further define order limits; for example, identifying the number of orders that may be accepted via online channels to optimise kitchen throughput.
Another challenge with any new system, says Pendlebury, is a lack of knowledge of how to operate it. "Allow staff enough time at the training and installation stages and continue to provide support and assistance even once the system is up and running," she advises.
"It's important that any new members of staff receive the same level of training to ensure they are up to speed - this can be made easier by having a system 'champion': someone who stays up to date with the latest developments, which they can pass on to team members at every level."
Driving revenue through data
For Charlton, today's EPoS is not so much about new functionality, but more about the opportunity presented by connected technology.
"Whether booking a table online or by telephone, ordering and paying for food using a mobile device or cashing in a loyalty voucher, the experience is seamless thanks to integration with EPoS," he says. "The data that is hived offers operators invaluable insight into customer behaviour and trends, so that restaurants can drive additional revenue through a range of initiatives, such as personalised loyalty rewards, staff rota planning and menu development, based on solid analytics."
Pendlebury agrees. "EPoS systems are opening up a whole new world for restaurants (and indeed, other hospitality venues) when it comes to engaging with customers and powerful, effective engagement means extra business and revenue."
"Like never before, EPoS allows businesses to compile the latest data from orders and the choices people make, thereby tracking the latest trends and allowing businesses to adapt to meet customer demand. By doing so, restaurateurs can tailor their business to offer the best customer experience, from menu choices to seating options."
By carrying out menu analysis and looking at customer purchasing behaviours based on EPoS data, operators can also quickly spot underperforming menu items that have low margins or hold up the bar or kitchen at the expense of more profitable options.
"They can then swap in products that perform well, while also highlighting and promoting items through table-talkers and in sales competitions between waiting staff teams," suggests Philipp Laqué, who is managing director of Revenue Management Solutions.
Operators should also consider which day parts are losing or gaining traffic and whether there are any differences between different locations. "The answers will provide crucial insight into business performance and help the operator enhance the customer experience. And the real joy of it all is that the information is already right there in the EPoS," Laqué says.
Evolve or dissolve
In the next few years, artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to play an increasingly important role in the customer journey. Already, many restaurant chain websites offer a chat function, allowing them to start building a rapport with customers before they visit a venue.
Omnico chief executive Mel Taylor predicts that this is only the beginning. "EPoS will be fully integrated into systems driven by AI networks, recognising orders made using voice through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Each customer will be recognised, with loyalty points, discounts, vouchers and offers personalised to achieve maximum effect," he says.
Laredo concludes it's important that restaurateurs make sure their current system will be able to keep up.
"Restaurateurs are very much in the face of 'evolve or dissolve'. It might be time to reconsider the technology you currently use to run your restaurant. Is it dated? Is it limited in terms of integrations? Is it helping you grow? If you answer no to any of these questions, it's time to switch," he says.
"Your EPoS is the foundation from which you can build and grow. In order to modernise, and keep up with emerging trends like delivery, click and collect, and in-restaurant mobile ordering, you must have the right systems in place in order to take on more, successfully."
Making allergen compliance automatic
Andromeda co-founder and chief executive Ben Portsmouth says a key focus for restaurateurs over the next 12 months will be improving system capability to handle allergens and full ingredient labelling ready for new legislation that will be coming into force in 2021.
"The challenge will be how to ensure that the customer is advised of allergens, both on a restaurant's own website and on aggregators, and how to ensure these are also printed on labels for each individual item sold for takeaway or delivery," he says.
Andromeda is developing a cloud-based tool to enable the hospitality industry to do exactly this. "We are also working with aggregators to ensure full integration to make being compliant a simpler process," Portsmouth adds.
"Natasha's Law" will require all food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged food. It was introduced by Michael Gove, the then environment secretary, following the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered a severe allergic reaction after unknowingly eating sesame in a baguette she had bought from a Pret A Manger.
PizzaExpress moves into click and collect
PizzaExpress has been capitalising on the growing takeaway market for several years, offering click and collect to its customers. But to meet demand, the 456-strong estate required a platform that could connect all its various order channels - from customers in the restaurant to those ordering online or by telephone - to provide a seamless customer experience.
The popular pizza chain also wanted to work with a technology partner that could keep up with the predicted growth in delivery and click and collect over the next few years.
Zonal's integrated technology provided the solution. "For us, we needed to co-ordinate all orders in a structured and coherent way through the EPoS and then manage the flow of orders to the kitchen, especially at peak service times," says PizzaExpress customer solutions manager Matt Broom.
"By deploying an integrated approach, it also meant that staff no longer have to rekey orders into the EPoS, minimising the risk of mistakes and lost orders that disappeared into a black hole.
By plugging this hole, we have seen a 5% upturn in incremental sales, which also supports customer satisfaction levels.
The time to process orders has reduced greatly, giving our teams more time to spend on delivering great customer service."
For PizzaExpress, introducing the new click-and-collect service offer was straightforward, but Broom says communication is key to success. Briefing teams and providing training guides and support were important when it came to managing the transition.
"As a business we have always admired Zonal's technology and now we are on board with it, we can dovetail Zonal tech into other ordering platforms and new parts of the business, such as our new ZA concept," Broom concludes.
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