October 25, 2017

How restaurants can evolve in the online food-delivery era

The popularity of online food-delivery platforms has transformed the way many people enjoy meals. With the convenience of a few clicks on a computer or opening a mobile app, customers can have a wide assortment of tasty items headed to their door. For anyone pursuing an online culinary arts certificate, it's important to be aware of how these changes could impact the restaurant business.

Chefs and restaurateurs must be prepared to operate in a marketplace where consumers have come to expect speedy delivery of cuisine that goes far beyond pizza or Chinese takeout. Adapting to this new era could make the difference in building a successful career.

How we're eating today

"Two primary models have emerged for food-delivery platforms."

Many customers are now accustomed to sending a food order instantly without any need to look up a phone number or talk to a restaurant employee. Two primary models have emerged for food-delivery platforms, according to McKinsey & Company.

The approach consumers are likely most familiar with is the aggregator, in which a single online portal provides the menus and prices for numerous establishments offering delivery. Users scan through the options available in their area and make a selection, for which the aggregator collects a fixed margin of the total payment. The restaurant is then responsible for delivering the food.

The new-delivery model, which developed more recently, is based around bringing consumers meals from businesses that otherwise would only offer dine-in or take-out service. These services go beyond providing a selection of restaurants, handling the logistics of bringing food to customers' doors. In return, the new-delivery provider receives both a margin of the order from the restaurant and a fee from the customer.

Restaurants respond to a delivery revolution

Businesses have several options for adapting to the rise of food-delivery apps and the changing expectations of consumers. Restaurant owners and chefs need to consider not only whether they will offer online delivery, but how they will provide that service. To be successful, leaders must take into account the advantages and costs of each possibility, as well as the potential for missing out on sales by ignoring delivery altogether.

Working with an aggregator is a simple option for establishments that already deliver, connecting the business with the loyal users of an online platform. The new-delivery approach has been attractive to higher-end restaurants and others interested in avoiding the costs of hiring staff to take orders and transport items. Some restaurateurs choose to offer convenience without working with a third party by developing their own online ordering systems and even mobile apps.

Today's food-delivery customers expect a new level of convenience.Today's food-delivery customers expect a new level of convenience.

The shape of food delivery to come

Fresh strategies for handling food delivery continue to emerge, with business owners looking for ways to satisfy customers and control expenses. Establishments that make it easy to order and quickly bring high-quality items to people's homes will have an important advantage as the competitive landscape for restaurants shifts in the years ahead.

Forbes reported on one idea that's gaining in popularity: virtual restaurants. These operations have no brick-and-mortar storefront at all, focusing solely on delivery. Several different virtual restaurants can work out of the same large, commercial kitchen with the entire space devoted to preparing food and turning it over to drivers.

Culinary academy students will find that the always fast-paced world of restaurants is going through ongoing transformations. Online delivery platforms could have a major impact on the work of chefs  and the way consumers experience their creations. Carefully thinking out how to respond to these changes will be an essential part of finding success in today's restaurant industry.