Technology today makes things swift and hassle-free. It has shaped the new frontier of convenience and has redefined what “ordering food” means.
For a staggering number of QSR businesses, the majority of sales are generated through digital channels. Domino’s Pizza receives about 60% of its orders through digital channels. A quarter of Panera Bread’s orders are digital and Starbucks makes nearly 30% of its sales digitally. With all the food delivery services and mobile order apps doing everything from taking your order to customizing your burger, is it slowing down operations for the people who are actually in the stores?
Modern day digitization and delivery services are changing the dynamic of the store experience, often slowing down the in-store servicing and fulfillment of orders. Many QSR restaurants have not been designed to accommodate the rise in fulfillment of online orders and delivery services, which leads to negative friction. Restaurants need to be reconfigured to take this into account in order to deliver speed and convenience in this new reality.
One way retailers are addressing the problem is by creating ghost kitchens. Ghost kitchens are designed exclusively for online delivery and ordering. These commercial facilities are built to produce food specifically for delivery, keeping it separate from servicing in-store clientele.
Pick-up windows, special pick-up lanes, or dedicated pick-up parking spots are being adopted to service online orders, thus providing speed and convenience. We’re starting to see this trend even in more mainstream retailers such as Wal-Mart, who work to provide a seamless experience for their customers.
QSRs today need to be more deliberate when planning around how to streamline, fulfill and positively deliver a cohesive restaurant experience that does not violate the brand’s core value proposition – speed and convenience. They must reset the customer experience by re-evaluating traditional operational models and find ways to better manage the customer through a pleasant experience. One area that needs serious consideration is how to maintain the customer differently through the ordering process so that time perception is managed. Crowding creates a slower service perception for the in-store clientele. Finding ways to ‘break apart’ the crowding such as segmenting the order fulfillment into a series of steps (like Chipotle), servicing the delivery person in a different part of the restaurant, or introducing runners who now bring the food to seated patrons, are ways to eliminate negative friction. ‘Real time’ vs. ‘perceived time’ psychology plays a big role in this process of managing customers’ expectations.
We all know that pleasing customers is business strategy 101. But as technology changes the world of QSR, resetting the customer experience has an additional benefit. Managing the expectations through more deliberate design to factor in technology and reconfiguring the store to maximize its key value proposition – speed and convenience – can help streamline business operations, increase efficiency, and boost sales.