Here's how restaurants are improving the way they manage pickup orders for increased efficiency and customer satisfaction.

As takeout and delivery orders continue to grow, many restaurants are facing challenges, especially regarding the pickup process. The fact is, restaurants simply weren’t designed to deal with this influx, and many problems are surfacing at the pickup shelf, where there is no technology or automation to manage the order expo process.

Operators have attempted to create ad hoc workarounds, like adding a pickup shelf, with mixed success. “It’s a short-term solution and is rife with issues,” says Mike Rizzo, chief growth officer of Apex Order Pickup Solutions. “Wrong orders are taken, intentionally or unintentionally. There are a lot of remakes, and customers and third-party delivery drivers have to rifle through shelves to find their order. It’s chaotic, inefficient, and suboptimal.”

As brands struggle with manual order fulfillment from a shelf, they are increasingly turning to smart food lockers for efficiency and an improved customer experience. Smart food lockers offer customers and delivery drivers a more secure way to pick up their orders—and help operators drive costs out of off-premises order fulfillment.

“In an ideal world, you would want off-premises orders to be your most profitable,” Rizzo says. “Often orders come in from a third party, so there are some incremental fees and commissions that the operator has to pay. With thin margins, operators must ensure they do not have to deal with remakes and lost or mistaken orders. They want to be able to flex labor so that employees are not spending a lot of time tending to drivers coming in or handling off-premise orders multiple times. Once that off-premise order has been made and completed, any additional time or energy put into it dilutes profit margins.”

For consumers, smart food lockers provide a convenient and frictionless experience. As consumers grow to appreciate the ease of digital ordering, they expect a similarly efficient pickup process. In fact, one of the driving factors behind the shift to automated pickup solutions is the rise of digitally native or digital-only restaurants. These locations, in keeping with the shift in consumer expectations toward fully digital experiences, incorporate technology into both front and back-of-house operations. The solution enables an order pickup process that can keep pace with more efficient operations designed to increase throughput. 

With 70 percent of consumers using takeout at least once a week, according to Revenue Management Solutions, it’s clear that demand is here to stay—and it’s up to restaurants to meet customers where they are. “Mobile ordering for off-premise orders is the highest growing segment, and restaurants are still struggling with ways to manage it better,” Rizzo says. 

Apex Order Pickup Solutions offers a self-serve, automated locker pickup system that brings security and efficiency to the pickup process. The system eliminates the dependency on human interaction and provides a secure and touch-free pickup option. Customers or drivers receive a pickup code or QR code when their order is ready and can use it to open a secure compartment with their order inside. The software provides data for key points in the fulfillment process, from order generation to pickup, which completes the operator’s digital order chain of custody. 

According to Rizzo, automated order pickup systems like smart food lockers improve the customer experience and boost restaurant efficiency. By eliminating the chaos and issues created by a pickup shelf, restaurants can use smart food lockers to offer a smoother, safer, faster pickup process. 

To find out more about Apex Order Pickup Solutions, visit the company’s website.

By Olivia Schuster

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