New protocols of food delivery has vastly expanded the enjoyment of hot meals at home to more than the usual pizza and hamburgers from fast food joints. In previous decades, each restaurant would have to set up its own delivery service and all its related systems, hardware and software. Phone calls were the primary means to communicate orders from the consumer straight to the restaurant’s operator.
This is still done nowadays by traditional companies which service a limited range of products and coverage area. Bigger multi-branch establishments sometimes employ a shared service type of operation to optimise the logistical investment and expenses. Online systems in taking, processing, dispatching orders have made things more efficient though other factors such as traffic, accessibility and security pose new challenges in food deliveries.
Outsourcing is a new paradigm in food delivery service which has allowed smaller coffee shops, bakeshops, groceries and even the occasional fine dining establishment (called merchants) to increase their market share. In this set up, the company need not spend for the logistics of a delivery service and instead sign up a outsourced company whose expertise is to service several restaurants with a fleet of delivery vehicles, usually motorbikes.
The outsourced agency takes care of including the merchant in the agency’s website–uploading the merchant’s menu for delivery; handling telephone calls, mobile and online enquiries and relay the order to the merchant. It then dispatches a rider at an appointed time to pick up and dispatch the food. Parameters are set in terms of what menu items stand up during travel time as well as distance and volume.
Other innovations in food delivery include loyalty cards which give discounts or freebie for future purchases; bulk ordering; accepting credit and debit cards as modes of payment; and corporate accounts programs and incentives.
Competition has gone beyond merchants to the delivery providers which madly scramble to get their share of new merchant sign ups by offering value added perks, extended late night operating hours or even 24/7 services, lower commission rates and even marketing support like opportunities to tap into its media relations. In any case the consumer is the winner because of enhanced variety, convenience and flexibility of options.
When ordering food, ask the operator for minimum order, service charges if any, and add on expenses, and ongoing and new promotions. Some offer off peak discounts during mid afternoon between lunch and dinner so take advantage of this.