The Way We Eat: How Online Ordering is Changing Dinner
Going out to dinner used to mean getting dressed up, driving to a restaurant, and waiting for a table. Today, more and more meals come right to our front doors, thanks to the rise of online ordering platforms. With just a few taps on our phones, we can order dinner from almost any restaurant in town. Meal delivery services like UberEats, DoorDash, and GrubHub are changing what we eat and how we get it.
In this post, we’ll look at how online ordering is transforming the dining experience for both customers and restaurants. We’ll cover:
- The benefits of food delivery apps
- The explosive growth of online ordering
- How restaurants are using digital platforms to boost business
By removing hassles and expanding options, these online marketplaces make getting dinner quick and easy. But they also create challenges for restaurants trying to adapt.
The Benefits of Online Ordering Platforms
For hungry customers, food delivery apps provide plenty of perks. The top draws include:
- Convenience: Ordering takeout online means dinner is just a few taps away. Customers can order from the couch or on the go, without having to drive or wait for a table. Meals arrive in 30 minutes or less in many areas.
- Wider Selection: A single app provides access to dozens of restaurants across town. Craving sushi, pizza, or tacos? It’s easy to compare menus and prices for different spots. This variety suits modern tastes.
- Easy Payment & Tracking: Payment happens seamlessly through the app, with no cash or card required upon delivery. Customers can watch their order status every step of the way.
- Deals & Discounts: Apps regularly offer special coupons and discounts to encourage ordering. First-time users often get free delivery. Paying through an app also helps users rack up loyalty points.
For restaurants, third-party delivery services also provide advantages:
- Expanded Reach: By listing on a popular app, restaurants can connect with new customers across wide geographic areas. Many smaller, local spots rely on delivery apps for a sales boost.
- Increased Orders: Being available for online ordering opens restaurants up to new revenue streams. An app’s marketing and promotions can drive substantial order volume.
- Menu Analysis: Data from online orders can offer restaurants valuable insights into what items customers want most. This helps them cater offerings to demand.
- Lower Costs: Running an in-house delivery program requires vehicles, drivers, and coordination. Listing on a delivery app outsources this while adding brand exposure.
The Explosive Growth of Online Ordering
Early food delivery services like Seamless launched back in the 1990s. But adoption remained slow until smartphones became ubiquitous.
A few key events helped online ordering gain major momentum:
- 2009 – GrubHub went national across more than 500 cities
- 2014 – Postmates introduced on-demand ordering from any restaurant
- 2016 – Uber launched UberEats
Still, online ordering was just starting to catch on before 2020. That year, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.
With lockdowns and dining room closures, delivery and takeout became necessities. Online orders skyrocketed almost overnight. In December 2019, about 16% of US restaurant sales came through digital channels. By June 2020, that share hit over 60%.
UberEats alone went from averaging 30 million orders per quarter to 150 million. Other apps saw similar exponential growth.
While delivery numbers have eased from peak pandemic levels, online ordering remains hugely popular. Digital orders still make up over 25% of restaurant sales as of mid-2022.
Looking ahead, platforms like DoorDash project online ordering to triple its market penetration by 2025. It’s on track to become a $300 billion industry.
The shifts look here to stay. Consumers enthusiastically adopted food delivery apps over the past two years. With better choices and convenience just a click away, there’s no going back.
How Restaurants Can Adapt & Thrive
The online ordering revolution brings both huge opportunities and major challenges for restaurants. Adapting operations and strategy is key to leveraging the benefits while minimizing headaches.
Here are some tips for restaurants aiming to succeed in the age of delivery apps:
- Optimize Online Menus: Curate online menus to showcase signature dishes and bestsellers. Keep prices consistent with dine-in menus. Make items easy to find.
- Streamline Order Processing: Have dedicated staff to monitor and fulfill online orders promptly. Pack food so it travels well. Adjust processes to handle more off-premise business.
- Offer Online-Only Deals: Give customers incentives to order directly instead of via third-party apps. Provide online-exclusive coupons and discounts to boost orders.
- Focus On Packaging: Invest in packaging that keeps food hot, cold, and fresh as it travels. This prevents deliveries from damaging food quality and reputation.
- Refine With Data: Study order data to see which menu items perform best online. Consider tweaking recipes and portions to suit takeout and delivery.
- Integrate Loyalty Programs: Link loyalty programs and club accounts to online ordering for easy access to rewards and discounts. This encourages repeat business.
- The Right Delivery Mix Be selective about which third-party platforms to join. Weigh commissions and fees against potential gains in orders. Consider developing branded delivery.
- Positive Customer Experiences: Monitor online reviews closely and respond promptly to feedback. Refund or remake orders that arrive cold, late, or incorrectly made. Aim for seamless service.
The Way We Eat is Changing
Online food ordering is revolutionizing the dining scene. Delivery apps have grown exponentially, especially over the past two years. Countless restaurants now rely on digital platforms to handle takeout and deliveries.
For consumers, the convenience, variety, and ease of apps like DoorDash and GrubHub are game-changers. Driving and waiting for dinner feels outdated.
Restaurants face evolving on-demand customer expectations. Those optimizing operations, online menus, and data stand to benefit. But competitively high commissions remain a common pain point.
One thing is for sure – our appetite for delivered dinners is only growing. The way we eat will never be quite the same. Online ordering is sure to expand its transformation of how and what we eat at home and on the go. Having a a digital marketing agency for restaurants by your side, will benefit you in finding new ways to generate more business.