Food delivery in the pandemic era has surged significantly, with delivery apps taking a sharp jump in usage as restaurants closed for long periods. U.S. food delivery revenue topped the $26 million mark in 2020, an $18 million increase from the high revenue mark in 2015 and a $4 million increase from 2019. While vaccination rates increase and more restaurants are opening their doors to recoup losses caused by the pandemic, many consumers keep turning to food delivery as a safe alternative to in-person dining.
While the pandemic is a driving factor, a greater variety of fleet types and delivery models have also facilitated the food delivery industry’s boom. These food delivery trends in 2021 are reflective of such proliferation and should be watched closely by restaurants and other foodservice entities as the market becomes increasingly competitive.
More Third-Party Delivery
The increase of third-party delivery has been noticeable since the pandemic came about, with more restaurants partnering with third-party fleets to expand their delivery footprints. This extends the geographic reach of restaurant chains and boosts their customer pool significantly.
The only drawback is that delivery operations essentially won’t be under their control. However, some restaurants offset this potential drawback by using owned online sites to order before utilizing Delivery as a Service (DaaS) providers to perform deliveries. With the use of management software for food delivery, restaurants have more control over their delivery operations and key performance indicators while garnering increased brand visibility.
In-House Delivery Fleets
In contrast to third-party delivery, more restaurant chains are implementing in-house delivery fleets. Notable restaurants like Chick-Fil-A have explored such services, with benefits for restaurant chains including:
- Increased visibility
- Full control of branding
- Customer data control
Restaurants must use dispatch software to manage in-house delivery fleets efficiently. This type of software uses automation to assign drivers to different orders. Scaling delivery can lead to tricky logistics and cause restaurants backlogs regarding orders. By going the in-house route, chains manage delivery via multiple restaurants to get more value from using delivery management software.
Improved Tracking of Delivery Data
Because restaurants rely on third-party services to handle their delivery flow, several restaurants and other food providers have turned to analytics and data collection to understand their operational efficiencies fully. McDonald’s, for example, spent over $300 million on a major startup based in Israel, using data to serve personalized orders to customers. The technologies used by McDonald’s utilize algorithms that take real-life factors into account when suggesting menu items. These factors range from traffic to weather.
Restaurants across the board are realizing that one way to gain a competitive advantage within the industry is by measuring, analyzing and improving performance. With the use of delivery data trackers, restaurant brands acquire useful insights that allow them to assess their delivery operations. The benefits of such tracking software include the positive effect on relationships with external fleets as well as aggregators. These factors allow restaurants to provide seamless delivery services, improve customer care, boost branding and optimize marketing strategies.
Increased Food Delivery Subscriptions
Food delivery subscriptions have led to more specialized food delivery services while catering to millennials who increasingly rely on these services more than any other group. People born between the 1980s and the 2000s are mainly driving the modernization within the food industry and leading to restaurants offering more personalized services to attract them. Millennials, especially, have expressed that they’d rather stay home and eat than do in-person dining. They prefer convenience over anything regarding food. They want customized meals delivered to their doors, including pre-prepared fresh meals, menu packets with raw ingredients and other food delivery home options.
Restaurants are offering subscription boxes to cater to these customer needs, reaching out to people interested in trying new cuisines. Plus, these boxes meet the needs of people seeking organic, gluten-free, ethically sourced or vegan food options. Because the options are so wide-ranging, food delivery subscriptions are great conveniences for restaurants. This is helpful as online orders grow at unprecedented rates, giving restaurants more flexibility and opportunities to improve their profit margins.
Other notable trends like the pairing of virtual cooking classes with delivery and take-and-bake kits also show how the food industry has focused more on providing conveniences for customers. Food delivery will likely continue to be an oft-used resource for people trying to avoid being in public spaces in uncertain times. Let’s help you with your tip management strategies as you capitalize on these trends and more. Let’s get to know each other today.