With rising food costs, razor-thin margins and intense competition, it’s no wonder restaurant operators need to be able to measure and manage every aspect of their business to deliver a quality guest experience. Yet despite this focus on metrics and continuous improvement, operators still face significant blind spots related to off-premises orders.
Restaurants have historically been able to measure nearly every detail of their business performance—from drive-thru speed of service and car counts to inventory levels and staff headcounts—through POS and back-office systems. However, with the growth of digital ordering and the adoption of a more omni-channel operating model, restaurant operators can no longer rely solely on these technologies, says Mike Rizzo, chief growth officer at Apex Order Pickup Solutions.
“Restaurants have a good sense for the entire chain of custody for orders placed through the drive thru or POS terminal,” Rizzo says. “However, for off-premises orders, a big blind spot occurs when that order is waiting to be picked up by an end user or delivery driver. Operators have no idea who picked up a specific order or when it was picked up. Despite better packaging and communication to help with handoff, it’s still a tremendous pain point that causes order errors and a lack of data to be able to resolve the issue.”
Yet one simple solution can help restaurants ensure off-premises customers get the right order while also providing valuable insights operators need to improve accountability and streamline operations: smart food lockers.
Rather than allowing anyone to grab an order from a bookshelf, smart lockers secure the orders until the intended delivery driver or end user enters or scans a code to access the correct order. Not only does this ensure the right order gets to the right user, it also provides critical data that the operator can use to validate order accuracy and the metrics around the order pickup.
“Our digital lockers give restaurants the benefit of asynchronous delivery, allowing the end user or driver to pick up orders safely, with no contact, and without interrupting busy workers,” Rizzo says. “They also record when the order went into the locker and what time it was picked up by the intended person. Meanwhile, the hardware and software can integrate into a restaurant’s tech stack to provide data the operator can use to enhance guest satisfaction for off-premises customers.”
Additionally, Rizzo says, by using the system to communicate with guests about when orders are ready and making handoff seamless, restaurants can actually reduce dwell time for orders in lockers to six minutes or less in nearly all cases and as little as four minutes in the majority of cases. This not only ensures peak food freshness, but it also ensures the availability of locker spaces throughout peak service times and eliminates the need to heat or cool lockers.
“The restaurant industry is at a critical juncture,” Rizzo says. “We’ll continue to see growth in digital ordering, and it’s crucial for restaurants to think about that off-premises customer’s dining experience. Our solution is the most efficient way to handle the automated transfer from a restaurant to the end user or delivery driver with fidelity. It closes the loop in an effective way and provides restaurants with the data they need to create a full end-to-end experience that drives customer loyalty.”
To learn more, visit the Apex website.
By Peggy Carouthers