Despite the challenges operators are facing from the growing delivery market, operators should embrace the change to stay ahead of the competition.
Mark Smith, managing director of the 25-strong Vietnamese restaurant brand Pho, spoke about the risks and benefits of signing up with a delivery partner at the Casual Dining Show yesterday, held at the Business Design Centre, Angel.
He said when Just Eat launched, he "didn't see how it would work" and didn't see a problem with the original method of calling up a restaurant to place an order.
Then when Deliveroo launched in 2013 and UberEats in 2016, he couldn't deny the "phenomenal growth" of these partners, which "opened the casual dining market to a new customer base."
Delivery is no longer something customers want when they desire "guilty" food, such as pizza, curry and Chinese. Deliveroo and UberEats have enabled people to order healthy food on a more regular basis, Smith said.
He also spoke about the importance of packaging to prevent soups from leaking and food going soggy. The restaurant's pho is delivered in eight separately packaged containers that the customer mixes at home, and which adds costs to the operator. However, it's necessary to have good packaging to ensure the food arrives safely. "We are putting our food in the hands of the driver. Customers will blame us if Deliveroo messes up the order, but they wouldn't come and find us if we had our own app," Smith said.
He added: "Delivery is here to stay. It's a threat and a challenge, but let's not hide. How do we embrace it? Millennials are big users of Deliveroo and UberEats and there's a whole new range of customers to be found when offering delivery.
"What we need to think about is the whole restaurant model. Eat-in numbers are on the decline. It's tough times at the moment in the sector, but we have got to embrace the growth opportunities we have got."
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