It’s the time of year for predictions. So I’m going to make mine an optimistic one.
2019 will be the year that restaurants get really good at delivery.
So far, 2018 has been the year of delivery experimentation. My inbox has been flooded by announcements of updated apps, third-party partnerships, travel-safe food packaging and restaurant remodels that are friendly to couriers. It’s been nonstop.
What’s especially exciting is that these nascent programs are working. Sales are up in the to-go category, often in the double digits. When restaurant CEOs talk about off-premise sales, they are often happy CEOs.
Because many operators are just dipping their toes in the delivery waters to see what happens, some of these efforts have been a bit slapdash. Not many programs are yet woven into the fabric of the individual restaurant’s brand promise.
But I predict — and I hope — that in 2019, operators are going to take a thoughtful, strategic approach to delivery.
Now that the off-premise model has been proven, next year will be about making programs sustainable for the long term when delivery sales aren’t all incremental.
And the basic operations of delivery are going to improve in 2019, I know it. I can’t wait for all the R&D around keeping food hot and safe. (And maybe just maybe we are going to figure out how to make beverage programs happen for off-premise.)
In 2019, the partnerships with third-party companies are going to get even more collaborative in the face of increased competition. Some operators might even look at bringing some of the operations in-house after careful consideration.
Restaurants will do their homework on their delivery customers — and what the heck they are looking for (and when).
This will all be just in time because customers are going to get more finicky about their delivery soon. High fees and long wait times aren’t going to fly for the long term. Just look at how Amazon took over the retail delivery market with quick, cheap delivery.
The novelty of delivery will not last long.
Contact Jenna Telesca at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @JennaTelesca
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