Of all the major operational shifts brought on the industry by the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps the biggest has been the astronomical growth of off-premises dining in the last 12 months. Among off-premises channels, delivery—which was already becoming more popular prior to the pandemic—expanded across the quick-service industry at an unprecedented rate.
“The industry was already trending toward delivery since millennials became the largest segment of customers restaurants needed to target,” says Jay Gillespie, principal product owner at Revel Systems, “but COVID was an even bigger push in that direction. Now that diners have realized how convenient delivery is, the overall digital experience can still have connectivity to the restaurants they like. Restaurants are realizing that this will be a lasting way to reach their customers.”
This shift, however, has brought with it new questions. Chief among those concerns for restaurant owners is whether brands should use third-party delivery, which take away some of the marketing and management burden of delivery but comes at a premium; use their own delivery service, which eliminates aggregator costs but adds to the administrative headache, or both, which gives brands the best of both worlds but can make it difficult to manage orders. As operators have navigated these tricky waters, one certainty has arisen: No matter how a restaurant chooses to offer delivery, finding ways to manage the large volume of orders is critical to the success of the program.
Take Wok Hei, a one-unit Chinese food restaurant based in Tustin, California, for example. Owner Michael DeAngelo bought an existing Chinese restaurant in 2017 with the goal of growing it into a booming business with a strong digital delivery presence that would be “just as smooth as the delivery in the pizza industry.”
Since DeAngelo took over, he’s seen significant growth in his delivery program. In the months following March in 2020 (the beginning of COVID), he’s seen even further double-digit increases in delivery traffic, which he believes are partly based on the pandemic and partly on promotions and marketing. Today, DeAngelo uses both third-party services and in-house delivery but notes that deciding between off-premises channels isn’t easy.
“In-house delivery isn’t cheap, due to the management, insurance, and liability costs of running your own fleet,” DeAngelo says. “You do have to pay third-party delivery aggregators a large chunk of your profits, but I find that, at least in California, the costs work out about the same.”
Yet DeAngelo feels that running his own fleet in conjunction with third-party aggregator service is not only an important marketing tool, since his delivery cars are wrapped with advertising decals, but it also provides added convenience and peace of mind for customers, who he says like seeing delivery drivers wearing Wok Hei shirts and knowing employees handled their order throughout the entire process.
However, DeAngelo knew from the beginning that making his Chinese delivery business as streamlined as well-known pizza concepts, such as Dominos, would require a smooth system for managing orders no matter which platform customers used to place them. So, when he was opening his restaurant, DeAngelo went to pizza industry trade shows to find a solution. There, he found Revel Systems.
“Revel was on the forefront of pizza delivery platforms, “DeAngelo says. “After looking at their delivery management system, I could tell they had the best product in place for what I wanted to do.”
DeAngelo says he was able to get rid of the numerous standalone platforms he was using for orders and POS and use Revel’s streamlined ecosystem instead, including its online ordering platform.
“Delivery XT made managing online orders and deliveries so clean and efficient, and the platform lets me add photos to help customers see what they are ordering,” DeAngelo says. “The system has helped increase my sales, and my online ordering is up by triple digits, because customers are ordering more frequently and spending more money. The system also makes sure my team makes fewer errors, and the simplicity means we use less payroll on order management.”
Revel’s Delivery XT solution was designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses compete with larger brands by making it simple to manage their own delivery operations. Not only does this solution let diners place orders, but it also lets them know when orders are on their way and where drivers are. It also gives restaurants better control over how items are listed, when they are offered, and lets brands keep total share-of-voice on the page, rather than sharing space with other restaurants like they would on third-party aggregators.
“Delivery XT helps restaurants craft a native experience right on their websites,” Gillespie says. “It’s easy for drivers to download and use, and includes a number of features that make ordering, loyalty, and delivery simple from start to finish. Additionally, Delivery XT is scalable for any business, and we kept the cost low so that brands can use it whether they’re just starting to offer delivery or whether they already have high delivery volume.”
As restaurants look forward to 2021 and beyond, there is little question that delivery will still be a driving force in the industry, even after the pandemic slows. Whether brands are just beginning their delivery journeys or are looking for ways to expand, Revel’s Delivery XT solution can help them manage streamline off-premises dining with ease.
“Revel has been so great, I would never think of leaving them,” DeAngelo says. “They keep coming up with new products that make it easier to manage my business.”
To learn more about how to streamline your delivery operations, visit the Revel website.
By Peggy Carouthers