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article imageQ&A: How online food delivery is impacting restaurant design Special

By Tim Sandle     Oct 18, 2019 in Food
Thousands of restaurants have worked with Vishal Agarwal, CEO of ItsaCheckmate to streamline their online food delivery operations and eliminate the “tablet hell” that goes along with integrating apps. Agarwal explains how to Digital Journal.
Most restaurants struggle to manage a waiting line of orders from both physical and virtual diners and end up treating online delivery orders as a ‘stepchild’. Online food delivery is set to supersize to a hefty $200 billion by 2025 and approximately accounts to 20-30 percent of restaurant’s revenue, according to multiple analyst reports. Restaurants need to consider retrofitting existing restaurant layouts and modify designs for the future, keeping in mind kiosks, single POS systems, separate pick up windows or curbside pick-ups for online delivery drivers, and so on.
To gain an insight as to how restaurants can best integrating with apps like Postmates, Uber Eats, DoorDash and GrubHub, Digital Journal caught up with Vishal Agarwal, CEO of ItsaCheckmate.
Digital Journal: Why do most restaurants struggle to manage a waiting line of orders from both physical and virtual diners?
Vishal Agarwal: Just in the last two years that we have been in business, we have seen revenue for some of our clients grow from 10% to over 30%. This has created a virtual line for the customers.
What happens in a normal QSR restaurant is customers line up in front of a register to place their orders. However, the same cashiers and registers that were initially built to take orders from the walk-in customers are now also busy transcribing orders from the multiple tablets to the POS systems. This is causing a shortage of staff, and the registers being busy from these virtual orders coming in.
A walk-in guest is waiting in the restaurant to take orders, and sometimes they see only 3-4 customers waiting along with them, but the food still takes a long time to come. This creates a sense of confusion and dissatisfaction among the customers as they don’t know what is taking so long. The reason for this delay is the online orders being generated on the tablet and platform, and the staff being busy attending to them first.
The primary reason for this is they are unable to tightly integrate online orders with their in-store orders and are not able to accurately predict the demand because they don’t have accurate stats for their online orders.
DJ: How popular in online ordering becoming?
Agarwal: Online food delivery is growing at a rapid pace all over the world due to the convenience, variety, and cost available at the touch of a button. According to a recent study by Frost and Sullivan, the online food delivery is set to supersize to over $200 billion by 2025.
Online food delivery is already having a huge impact on the dine-in restaurant business. Major cities and urban centers have been the epicenter of this evolution, especially because of the increased penetration of smartphones and widespread internet connectivity.
DJ: Do restaurants treat online orders as secondary to face-to-face orders?
Agarwal:Yes, currently online orders are treated as a “step” child because they are generated outside the four walls of the store and must be manually entered to the POS system. They come through as disorganized, sometimes the menus are not updated, and sometimes the restaurants must deal with weird special instructions input by the customers.
There is also higher pressure with online orders as restaurants do not get a chance to justify or correct if the initial experience is not good. The customers are usually quick to rate, and once the restaurant gets a few bad reviews, it has a spiraling effect. So, the higher pressure with little or no chance to justify themselves does not put online orders in a favorable light.
DJ: How should restaurants modify their physical space to cope with changing ways of ordering food?
Agarwal:We have started seeing that restaurants are creating dedicated “pickup” areas. This is for customers or drivers who arrive to collect orders placed through online channels. The restaurant staff can pack and label the food and keep it ready on shelves specially designated as a pickup area. This frees up the restaurant to be accessed freely by the walk-in customers and does not cause any kind of inconvenience for them. Clear signs directing drivers / pick up customers toward these dedicated spaces is very helpful as well.
DJ: What does ItsaCheckmate offer restaurants?
Agarwal:ItsaCheckmate directly integrates orders from over fifty different online ordering platforms directly to the restaurant’s POS system and it includes managing the third-party menu for the restaurants. This integration enables orders to be streamlined directly into the core of the restaurant’s operations, with no bottleneck at the front of the house. All the orders print out in the kitchen in the same exact format, as if they were manually entered in the store. We funnel the data for the restaurant operators to make sure the customers can get the same experience, hence allowing restaurateurs to streamline kitchen operations so they can focus on what they offer best- Food.
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