Remember the days when ordering delivery food consisted only of lukewarm pizza and greasy Chinese food? The concept of delivery for dinner (or any other meal) has radically changed with the rise of online food ordering services.
These days a variety of local eateries and national restaurants participate in online food ordering by partnering with delivery companies such as Uber Eats, Postmates, Grubhub and Waitr. These services allow customers to peruse a larger selection of foods and restaurants and order food through a convenient web page or app.
Millennials are a particularly crucial demographic for restaurants trying to grab a piece of the online delivery market pie. Recent studies from the National Restaurant Association found nearly 75 percent of millennials prefer to utilize delivery service. These 21- to 36-year-olds are generally tech-savvy, gravitating to online delivery apps as a means for ordering their meal.
On the surface, the idea of online food delivery seems like a win-win for the customer and restaurant, but this seemingly ideal scenario is not without flaw. Let’s examine the pros and cons of online food delivery services.
Customers can order their favorite comfort food from the couch while bingeing the latest Netflix show and having it delivered to their front door. Sounds amazing, right? That’s because it is, and the convenience attracts many different types of customers, not just millennials. Parents with no time to cook can utilize online food delivery and feed the whole family without turning on the oven. The convenience offered by online food delivery services is the greatest appeal.
Con: Wait Times
Ordering from online food delivery services is not a quick experience. Customers in search of quick food should probably make the trip to the restaurant themselves rather than contact delivery services. Longer wait times for online food delivery can often be attributed to traffic, weather, how busy a restaurant is and the complexity of a customer’s order. Does a customer want to wait an extra half hour (or even an hour) just to have their food delivered? Customers should pick up their food themselves if their hunger cannot wait.
Pro: Discover New Restaurants & New Customers
More restaurants are joining the ranks of the online food delivery community every day, allowing customers a greater selection of foods to choose from when ordering. Instead of a customer being confined to restaurants around their home or one that only attracts nearby residents, customers can now discover new restaurants. Connecting restaurants to new customers is one of the best benefits for the industry and also allows customers be a little adventurous and try a new spot.
Con: Killing the Vibe
Ever been to an empty restaurant? It’s a strange environment when dining alone or with only a few other customers. Part of the allure of many restaurants is the atmosphere. Customers can grill a steak or cook a pizza at home, but they love the vibe some restaurants offer. Every online food delivery service order equates to one less customer physically dining in the restaurant. While online ordering can generate similar or greater amounts of sales, at what point does operating a mostly empty restaurant begin to kill the spot’s vibe and eat away at a restaurant’s social capital?
Pro: Healthier Delivery Options
Online ordering means more choices. Now customers can order a smorgasbord of delicious culinary options from their favorite local eateries, even healthy options. Want to skip chicken wings and order grilled chicken with steamed vegetables instead? It’s possible. Need a salad instead of scarfing down a burger and fries? Do it. Online food delivery services are enabling customers to stick to healthy eating plans even when they want to forego meal prep or dining out.
Con: More Expensive
Customers are typically subject to fees when ordering through an online delivery service, in addition to the cost of the food. These fees can include a booking fee, busy area fees and even a tip to the delivery driver. Is a burrito worth a few extra dollars just to have it delivered?
Pro: Avoid Weather Delays
Harsh weather can be devastating to a restaurant’s bottom line. Customers stay cooped up indoors to avoid the elements, and restaurants remain emptier than usual due to the lack of customers. The advent of online food delivery services has allowed restaurants and customers to connect even when facing unfavorable weather. Restaurants can field steady business and customers stay well fed. Everyone stays dry, except the delivery driver.
Con: Isolated Disconnect
Dining at a restaurant is an exciting and delicious experience, meant to be shared with family and friends. Consumers lose the restaurant ambiance and dining interaction when opting to utilize an online food delivery service. Eating in solitude with only your favorite streaming shows to accompany you (another topic for a different blog post) fosters an attitude of isolationism, slowly disconnecting you from the outside world.
Despite some imperfections, online food delivery services are typically beneficial for both customers and restaurants. They allow customers to diversify their culinary palates from their couches by trying new restaurants (or ordering comfort food) and helping restaurants attract new customers. Here at Fridge, we understand both sides of this conundrum. Allow us to help your company decide on the best marketing strategy regarding online food delivery.
Andrew Alexander, PR & Content Specialist