How to Create an Online Food Delivery Service From Scratch
Online food delivery services are booming.
And you want in, right?
It’s natural to sometimes want what someone else has, and if you feel like your restaurant business is struggling because it’s unable to compete with those who deliver to diners’ doors, you’re not alone.
Before we explain how to create an online food delivery service from scratch, let’s dig into the numbers.
Online food ordering statistics
By 2024, the online food delivery market is expected to reach a volume of $164 million in the US alone.
It’s a similar story across the globe. China has seen the most revenue generated by online orders so far during 2020, amounting to just under $46 million. World-wide, delivery sales in the food service industry are expected to rise by 20% each year, reaching a staggering $35 billion by 2030.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the other online food ordering stats that matter:
- Food order deliveries are enjoyed once a week by 60% of Americans ([source])
- The online food ordering and delivery industry in the UK is worth £1 billion (source)
- 20% of people spend more on off-premise orders than they do in restaurants (source)
- Nearly 60% of millennial restaurant orders are for delivery or takeout (source)
- Diners who order food online will visit the same restaurant 67% more frequently than those who don’t (source)
Appetite sufficiently whetted? Let’s get cracking!
Online food delivery service: 6 planning steps
We’re not about to suggest that setting up a food delivery service from scratch is easy - it requires plenty of pre-planning.
This is why jumping in head-first isn’t a good idea.
You need to do your homework and prepare. Therefore, before you do anything, consider these six vital planning steps.
1. Get the right POS system
The point of sale (POS) system will sit at the heart of your restaurant operation, but it’ll need to handle delivery too, if that’s your plan.
The good news is that many modern POS systems offer this functionality, and it might just need turning on. Speak to your vendor first, and if they can’t provide it, consider a system that has delivery options, online ordering and the ability to capture customer data.
2. Tweak your kitchen line
Very few traditional restaurant kitchen lines are ready to take on the intricacies of a delivery service, so make sure yours is, before you start taking orders.
The POS should help (see above), but the kitchen line will need to be capable of dealing with high order volumes and prioritising them effectively, while still providing the in-house service.
Foodservice training might be required, and it pays to listen to staff who have held previous roles in order delivery for their input.
3. Choose your online ordering service
You could opt to take, process and deliver the food yourself, but there’s a reason the likes of UberEATS and Deliveroo exist.
They’ll take a portion of each sale, but will in return provide an invaluable service.
4. Think carefully about food transportation
Even if you use one of the services above, you might have the option to deliver yourself once the ordering is taken care of.
Think carefully about this. In doing so, you’ll need to tackle thorny issues like whether or not employees can use their own cars or company cars. You’ll also probably need to significantly change their terms of employment to take into account new driving duties.
If it feels safer and more cost-effective to use one of the aforementioned online ordering services’ delivery options - do so.
5. Consider branded packaging
Once again, if you use a service like Deliveroo, they may brand deliveries with their company livery, but you might have the opportunity to use your own.
If that’s the case, this can be a great way to stick in the minds of your delivery customers. Think about it; what’s the first thing they might see when heading into the kitchen the morning after they’ve consumed your takeaway?
6. Create a separate delivery menu
Don’t feel like you have to offer the exact same in-house menu for delivery customers. In fact, there may be certain dishes which really don’t suit delivery!
Instead, work on a separate menu for delivery. Optimise it for fast prep and freshness while in transportation. Consider what the competition is doing, too; they may have already nailed the requirements in this area.
It’s also important to calculate the optimal shelf life of your food. This will help you estimate delivery windows and enable the team to prioritise delivery items efficiently for the best takeaway experience.
How to keep delivery food fresh
We’ve all experienced a cold takeaway or one which tastes as though it’s spent far too long waiting to be delivered.
This is a huge part of the customer experience, and if you get it wrong, customers will soon tell the world about it via online review platforms.
So, with that in mind, here are some quick-fire tips for keeping your food deliveries as fresh as possible:
- ensure containers have a small hole pierced to let excess steam escape;
- always includes sauces in separate pots so the customer can apply them;
- place hot and cold food items in separate bags;
- provide drinks in a separate bag;
- make sure you offer reheating instructions (including “do not reheat” if appropriate!); and
- try and source containers that provide separate compartments for the constituent dish elements.
How to roll out your new delivery service
Start by ensuring your team understands how to communicate with one another about delivery orders. This runs from the employees processing the orders coming in, to the kitchen staff and drivers.
Once you have a robust communication channel and process in place, you can start a slow, strategic rollout of your new delivery service. Don’t try and go all-guns-blazing with it overnight, either, because you’ll almost certainly fail.
Start with one small test region and, if you have the data available, contact existing customers to see if they’d like to sample your new delivery service. Learn from every delivery you make during this early rollout phase; what works correctly? Where did you slip up? What customer feedback can you act on?
Tweak your menu as you go, too. You probably won’t get it right from the off, so ensure you ask customers what they think of the food you’re delivering. And speak to staff, too; is anything taking too long to prepare?
Baby steps is what’s needed here. When you feel like things are beginning to ‘click’, start rolling it out to wider areas and more customers.
Check out these other brilliant Beambox resources that will help you during your online food delivery journey: