In 1889, when a famed Naples pizza chef trundled three different pizzas — fully cooked and piping hot — to the doorstep of the hungry and demanding King Umberto I of Italy and Queen Margherita of Savoy, little did he know that he started a trend that's alive and well hundreds of years later.
The U.S. food delivery market is poised to grow a whopping 79% by 2022 — from $43 billion to $76 billion, driven primarily by the rise of online ordering. That's good news for pizzeria operators since pizza remains a perennial delivery favorite, but other food choices previously not available to at-home diners other than through takeout is quickly changing the game.
In fact, market researchers at the NPD Group are forecasting that within the next decade, the takeout and delivery segment will eclipse restaurant industry growth on the whole. NPD Group restaurant industry analyst, Bonnie Riggs, explains it like this: "Consumers want the 'dining out' experience of quality food, but...similar to the consumer value online direct-to-door shopping fulfills, there is the appeal of being in the comfort of their own homes, and not having to deal with the 'hassle' of the outside world.
Given all the options available and the increasing dependence on delivery, remaining competitive means coupling consistently delicious food with a memorable experience that will have customers choosing your restaurant the next time they want a restaurant-style meal at home.
Pizza pros and forward thinkers in other food categories are exploring technology and other innovations meant to make delivery easier for operators, play up the convenience of delivery and provide an unforgettable wow factor:
- Big pizza chains and independents are leveraging technology to boost and "humanize" the customer experience with personalized online customer profiles, favorites and conveniences like digital trackers that report food preparation and delivery progress. Some companies are even beginning to experiment with delivery droids and driverless vehicles.
- Restaurants of all stripes are realizing the advantages of third party delivery through companies like Seamless, GrubHub and others. These dependable, widely known and tap-an-app user friendly online services are convenient for customers, play to their technological bent, and give them numerous cuisine options to choose from for to-the-door delivery. The added competition in the delivery space is compelling pizzeria operators to use third party delivery, and there are fringe benefits that protect profits. Operators are spared the expense of hiring designated delivery staff, purchasing delivery-related signage, containers, etc., and investing in vehicles and insurance.
- Sometimes, delivery doesn’t mean food-at-the-door. Pizza vending machines like Let’s Pizza and Pizza Touch are dotting the globe, offering hot, custom pies for purchase in about 3 minutes.
Delivery is a substantial part of the restaurant industry, and only getting bigger. Outside the (pizza) box approaches are necessary to remain relevant among competitors and customers. Start or refresh your delivery service with the tips you’ll find in our free guide, How to Offer a Profitable Pizza Delivery Service. Click the button below to download your free copy.