Case Study | Keeping up with Consumer Trends

See why offering meal delivery is a crucial part of competing in the food industry

Meal delivery options are expanding rapidly. Business owners like Wollenschlaeger, CEO of Pittsburgh Fresh, and David Greensmith, president of Essential Meal Delivery, say they recognize their customers’ ability to pick up a phone or tablet to order their next entrée.

During the pandemic, NPD, a U.S. restaurant market research firm, digital ordering was a lifeline for consumers and restaurants, particularly full-service restaurants. For the year ending March 2021, restaurant digital orders grew +124% compared to the year before. Digital orders for carry-out, which represented 62% of all digital orders, increased by +130%, and digital orders for delivery grew by +142% and held a 38% share of total restaurant digital orders.  It’s unlikely that digital ordering will grow at the same pace during the pandemic once restaurants are fully open. Still, it’s table stakes for restaurants now,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor.  “Digital ordering is all about elevated convenience and ease, and that’s what makes consumers tick.” 

As a result of changing consumer preferences, meal delivery concepts like UberEats, Amazon Restaurants, GrubHub, and DoorDash have been sprouting up like dandelions after a spring rain. Throughout the United States, these firms are delivering everything from a Big Mac to a Vietnamese avocado egg roll.  Restaurant apps and websites are the most used channels for digital ordering, representing 62% of all orders. However, the third-party apps mentioned above grew by +207% over the past year, compared to the +98% increase in digital orders through restaurant apps and websites. 

The trend is undeniable, and many restaurants are partnering with delivery services, says Yukon Palmer, a senior executive with FieldLogix, a GPS fleet and workforce management company. He says restaurant owners should consider some critical factors in determining if these delivery services are cost-effective and consider other key customer satisfaction factors when they make their choices.