While everyone are busy making scenarios about how will be the restaurant of the future post Covid, the actors of the field have been focused on delivery, and launching online platforms.
by Emeline Dany
Covid has been an opportunity for many restaurants to stop procrastinating on their 2.0. evolution. Nowadays having an online presence is an added value, not to say essential as customers tend to be more proactive and performing due diligence before selecting a place where to eat.
Though some launches did not happen that smoothly and some customers showed their non-satisfaction on the socials.
Hence, we decided to share with you the questions you should ask yourself when activating a food delivery.
1. Online platform and “go”.
Delivery, it’s not just about creating an online platform and outsourcing the delivery process. Delivery is about creating a new business model, that will impact your daily operative business:
. Have you thought how your employee will handle the requests/perform the dispatch while still serving in the shop or bar/restaurant? How will you organize your staff: one dedicated resource?
. How will you manage the “production level” planning? Will you pick directly in the "production" dedicated to the shop or will you increase your stock production just for the delivery?
. How will you maintain cost associated to food waste if you have no visibility on the overall demand and start making stock? Have you worked on sales forecast crossing the data of the external platforms supporting you to your old business figures?
. Where will you stock the food waiting for the transporter? And if you have an order with products that should stay refrigerated, how will you do ? As it may not be possible storing whole bags in a fridge…
. Have you thought about creating an understandable menu flow for the customer, with type of food adapted to moment of the days (lighter and more functional at lunch...)?
. Have you thought about taking appetizing picture of the dishes and not in the shadow using an inappropriate cell phone?
. Have you designated a person in your staff to handle eventual backorders, missed delivery or customer satisfaction issue?
. Without mentioning all the details about creating your own online structure and handling the payment process backend.
2. Price positioning.
You may not know, but platforms that offer you visibility like Deliveroo or Glovo can withdraw up to 35% as a fee. If you consider a 10% VAT for prepared meal, it means that already half of the selling price is made neither from the food cost nor the profit. If you consider that usually, food cost represents 30% of the overall selling price, and let’s add 5% for the packaging, basically 80% of the overall price of the product is linked to expenses. All this without taking into consideration the cost of delivery itself.
. So how do you integrate delivery cost in your price positioning?
. Do you have to review the weight of the portion instead of communicating to your customer that they will pay more for what they used to get?
. Do you have to think about a new menu adapted to the new expenses and in line with your actual price positioning?
3. Forgetting about your identity.
In Italy comfort food has to be Italian. Besides some cities like Milan follow some trends that became mainstream (pokè, Neapolitan pizza…). But if you were born as a pizza place, how can you start selling paella and pokè?
. How the customer will know if the food is quality if you’re not specialized in something specific, and how they will find you among numerous restaurants? It's already hard to make a choice nowadays. Have you checked how many pokè places you can find on delivery if you live in Milan inner town?
. How do you plan to make the difference if everyone starts selling parmigiana using the argument that people want to pay less than at the restaurant and eat genuine local food? Think about it twice while creating an Italian dish if before you were doing something else, people won’t understand.
. How will you handle the fact that Italian food seems always better at home? Tommaso Melilli gives an interesting interpretation in its last book. It says that in Italy, historically we offer in restaurants food you can find at home. But as some research shows, the food eat in a beloved context (family) will benefit from a better taste (the famous Madeleine de Proust)
. And how will you handle your ingredients extended range to optimize your food waste?
. Moreover, if you’re part of the fine dining category and decide to create a simpler and more affordable menu, have you thought about the risk you can take? The overall food experience in your restaurant is linked to the interior design, the mood, the service, the plating, the exchanges with the chef. But if 4 tortellis arrived lost in a broth at the home of someone who hasn’t nice plates, do you think that minimal food will still be perceived fine dining?
This is one the most challenging part of the delivery business.
. Think about how a Neapolitan pizza arrived during winter after a 30 min ride? A bit too chewy? Or the hamburger bread that becomes gluey with the steam created by the sealed package, the cold fries or even the hard meat, without mentioning the overcooked pasta.
Packaging must preserve the food aromas and texture in the best way possible.
. Packaging means as well a container that will resist to the mountain bike rides on the Milanese cobblestones.
. On top of that, packaging is the first contact with your client. You don’t have a smiling waiter when the customer unpacks, so your packaging must say “hi” and provokes some emotion to your customer. As a minimum, it must give you the indication that it comes from you. If you receive food with no brand identity, are you confident about the source?
. Think about as well the socials, if the customer takes a picture, don’t you think your food should be associated to a logo?
. In cities like Milan, people are paying attention to nice packaging and could order food just because the packaging is nice.
. Another point is, what is the image of your local? If you deliver everything in plastic or material that does not look eco, do you think people will associate you unconsciously to someone ethic? So how to adapt the type of package to your food image?
5.Esthetic & Dish presentation.
Definitely linked to packaging, but, delivery means putting your food in a delivery packaging and not a beautiful plate.
. How do you ensure that your food still look yummy? Do you think your entire menu is adapted to delivery? Have you thought at the moment the client will remove the food from the packaging after maybe half an hour?
. While working on plating the food for delivery, have you trained your extended staff? Because the customer should not see a difference from one person in charge of the preparation to another. It’s better to have something simple to execute, and document a procedure.
.Besides, do not set wrong expectations with the pictures on the website. If you perform delivery and put a still life with amazing plating in beautiful dishes and the food arrives upside down in a standard packaging, the customer can feel he did not pay for what he was expecting. Think about your image once the food leaves your place and you have no one available to create a dialogue with the customer if the dish was not perfect.
. Worse, what if they tag you on Instagram? Think about the power of a nice dish on Insta to attract customers.
6. Food format.
Not every food is adapted to delivery. So what should you do? Review your menu list? Offer alternative options? What kind of food are you offering? Are you ready to refuse serving some dishes to preserve your image?
. Do you think your regular customer could accept to receive the pasta sauce vacuumed and the raw pasta separately? (Do you know someone not able to cook pasta in Italy?)
. Or should you perform the test of leaving your pasta 30min in the packaging to see if you should stop the cooking upfront and for how much?
. For lunch isn’t better to serve cold salads with pasta/spelt/quinoa, or soups and for dinner propose a simple kit “do it yourself”, vacuumed, so people can feel a chef at home?
7. slots of delivery.
If we take Milan as example, the delivery business is mainly divided in two. The “standard” deliveries: glovo, ubereats, deliveroo… and private transports through bikers as Ubm for example. For the second ones, in order to absorb the cost per hour, you need to organize the deliveries optimizing the tour for each perimeter. What does it mean? One rider should do a maximum of deliveries in one defined perimeter if you want to benefit from a reduced transportation cost per order.
. Is it what's happening? Do you have organizational skills inside your restaurant to organize the routes? How will you organize yourselves? What do you do, when a breakfast arrives after the designated slot and the customer is already at work and a second delivery is offered by night?
Of course, mistakes don’t happen only to people not trying and in a ideal world, you would get a test phase/pilot followed by a ramp up, while here delivery requests just exploded.
The point is that even if there are immediate costs to absorb, it’s better not to rush any new project. Because it will end in hidden costs of non quality, stress generated to unprepared employees and brand image deterioration.
Covid ordeal should be a trigger to start rationalizing the market and think the food experience as a process. If not, the business thinking minds, which often means the ones with investors behind (asking for key performance indicators), will be the only one left.
Are you interested in these topics? Would you like to be involved in our webinars dedicated to business abroad? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!