Restaurant deliveries hit ‘last mile’ speed bump

Anyone for cold pizza, lukewarm burritos or tepid noodles?  Some restaurants rushing into the delivery business have hit a speed bump — the ‘last mile’. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s no secret that delivered online food sales from restaurants, pizzerias and takeaways have boomed during the lockdown — with many food and beverage establishments hitting the road for the first time. New research shows delivered food sales have increased by 250% year-on-year.

But food and beverage (F&B) businesses entering the delivery market are also discovering that getting your mobile ordering app is only just the start of the journey.

The delivered food market carries its own complexities. Getting orders into your till quickly and easily is great news. But consumer loyalty is fickle and the intense competition is only a swipe away.

To succeed in this market, your entire operation needs to be hyper efficient. Here are two areas where you need to focus especially.  

#1: Understanding the ‘last mile’

Your business will suffer if consumers only need 30 seconds to place an order — but then they wait an age for it to arrive. Worse still, if the food is cold, then you’re toast.

The obvious focus here is the delivery element of the operation, whether you use third-party aggregator services, local taxi firms or your own drivers. Certainly, it’s a big win if you can use the kinds of tools iiko has been operating in this market — so you can assign drivers efficiently, optimise delivery routes and track your fleet.

But the ‘last mile’ is about much more than that. Even if your food reaches doorsteps on time, how long did it take to make and how long was it sitting around getting cold?

For the ‘last mile’ to be completed successfully, you need everything in your food production operation to be fully in-sync. It’s here that having a unified, end-to-end POS that drives kitchen efficiency in real-time can really make the difference.

It means improving kitchen communication by displaying orders and their status instantaneously while eliminating paper (and the risk of lost orders).

It means producing batches efficiently and on time, managing standard cooking times and peak hour schedules so production flows smoothly.

And it means tracking all your preparation and cooking steps – order pending, topping, baking, slicing, and packing etc.- so that piping-hot orders are ready for delivery at exactly the right moment. 

#2: Staying in control of costs

In the delivery game, it’s easy for speed to take priority over cost. Unfortunately, that seems to be what’s happening right now, even though margins are wafer thin.

It’s shocking to read that food waste generated by UK restaurants dishing up takeaways has risen by an estimated £16.7m since the lockdown began, according to The Guardian. This is attributed to “unpredictable ordering patterns” by consumers.

To put it crudely, margins are ‘in the bin’ because restaurant are consistently failing to second-guess consumer tastes. But here’s where a unified, highly-automated POS can be a game-changer.

To workers on the frontline, ordering patterns from consumers can seem unpredictable. But this is not the case at all. With a smart POS that tracks every element of your business, you can stand back and see what’s really happening. It’s possible to track consumer behaviours, ordering patterns and other trends very easily. You can then adapt your operation to fit.

This has major advantages for cost control.

  • You can automatically create realistic prep plans, so mountains of food won’t be wasted.
  • You can schedule the right amount of kitchen staff and delivery drivers for your busiest moments.
  • You can optimise your inventory and purchasing by accurately predicting what’ll be selling over coming weeks.

Furthermore, a smart POS goes the extra mile and offers insights that drive actions e.g. when a purchase order needs approval, a stock count needs to be conducted, a till shift needs closing, or a process violation happens in one of the stores. It will notify the right people to take action immediately.

With zero guesswork and a highly-tuned operation, you’ll be better equipped to take on competitors, accelerate your ‘last mile” performance and satisfy customers.

Winning in the delivered food marketplace

With iiko, you can save time, cost and complexity. You can get everything you need in one place, so you can get started quickly and accelerate successfully as your business grows.

Discover how to automate a delivery business in a restaurant, cafe or dark kitchen, using our next-gen kitchen tech.