The Takeout Industry is Rapidly Growing
We’re heading into the winter season, indoor dining restrictions are unreliable, and patio heaters are unbelievably expensive and hard to get. Overall, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for restaurants to rely on dine-in service. It’s difficult for all of us to wrap our heads around the new direction the restaurant industry is heading towards. Takeout and delivery. It’s a $35 billion industry, expected to grow up to $1 trillion by 2030. With that being said, the spike in this industry didn’t begin 8 months ago when we were it with a global pandemic, but it’s been outpacing the dine-in industry by 300% since 2016. Takeout looks to be the future for restaurants, at least for the foreseeable future. We've outlined some tips to help you elevate your takeout experience at home for your guests.
There are so many important factors that play a role in creating the perfect ambiance in your restaurant or cafe. The lighting, the furniture, the fixtures, the design of the space (this one is particularly relevant in pandemic times), and of course, the music. If you’re a restaurant owner, there’s a strong possibility that you have spent a lot of time creating different playlists for your lunch and dinner services. You want to set the mood with music that complements the surroundings. A simple Spotify playlist that you can add right onto a page on your website can make a Sunday brunch or Monday night movie night more of a personal experience for your guests.
If you’ve built Spotify playlists in the past, and feel like they’re collecting dust in the corners of the web, don’t fret, you can now embed them into your Sociavore website, so your guests can listen to them while they sit down to eat your takeout, or prepare a meal kit from your restaurant. Creating the atmosphere at home is a personal touch that will make the night more memorable for your guests. You can learn how to set up Spotify playlists on your Sociavore website.
If you don't have your own Spotify playlists, you can pick any playlist you'd like and embed it right into your website.
As we’re slowly uncovering that the takeout experience doesn’t need to start and end with the food you send out, and the playlists your guests can find on your website. You can build a restaurant experience around your guests’ dining table. There’s a lot of room to make the unboxing at-home process entertaining. For example, you can add a QR code or a card with a link in the bag as a surprise, which can take your guests to a Spotify playlist you’ve curated, a recipe they can make in the future, a video tutorial on how to make a cocktail or dish.
Earlier this month we talked about whether or not QR code menus are the future of restaurant menus.
Combos & Pairings
We all miss dining out at restaurants, but there’s so much more than food that we miss, it’s the knowledge, expertise, and service from the hardworking staff members in the dining rooms that you don’t normally get with takeout. Knowing what wine to pair with your food, or what menu items go well together, is not something a majority of the guests at your restaurants are familiar with, especially if it's their first or second time. We’ve seen a lot of restaurants do an incredible job of selling alcohol to-go via makeshift bottle shops that they’ve set up. Now is a great time to leverage your ability to sell alcohol to go by selling beer or wine pairings that complement your takeout menu. A lot of alcohol, particularly wine, and more recently natural wine, is not available in the LCBO. Guests will jump at the opportunity to get a special bottle of wine they wouldn't normally be able to drink at home. You can go a step further by including a card with a description of the wine, or something enjoyable to read for your guests that describes what they're about to dive into.
As your restaurant has most likely realized over the past 7 or 8 months, people are ordering a lot of takeout. For many households, they're ordering their favourite dishes multiple times a week. As a chef or restaurant owner, you may have been asking yourself, how do you set yourself apart from your competitors in your town or neighbourhood? What else can you be doing on top of preparing delicious food? Well, the way you package your food can play a vital role in distinguishing yourself from others. Branded packaging or personal packaging instantly conveys a message to the guest at home that you appreciate the business, and that you're going the extra mile to ensure they're receiving a quality at-home dining experience.
You might already be thinking that branded packaging such as printed boxes with your logos can get expensive, however, it can be as simple as placing a sticker with your logo on your boxes or takeout bags, writing a handwritten thank you note from you or your employees, or a small freebie such as a special house sauces or condiments, or a 10% off coupon or promotion for your valued customers.
Ensure Your Takeout is as Easy as Dining in
Remember that takeout isn’t all about the experience that begins at home. It starts when your guest goes online to place an order. Some of the factors that guests will consider revolve around how smooth the ordering experience is, from finding you on Google, to how user-friendly your website is, to the descriptions you have on your menu, to your delivery & pickup options like curbside pickup availability, and of course how easy it is to place an order, whether it's first-party on your restaurant website, or a redirection to a third-party delivery app like Uber Eats or Skipthedishes. These steps in the takeout process will either encourage your guests to order more in the future, or it will make them leave and find somewhere else to eat.
When it comes to choosing a delivery partner, remember that you don't always have control over how quickly your guests receive their orders from the delivery people. Hiring your own delivery drivers, or partnering with a local delivery company can provide you with greater agency over your takeout orders, and it could be worth looking to if we're in the long haul of the pandemic. You can learn more about Sociavore's first-party Online Ordering.
The restaurant industry has been resilient since the beginning of Covid-19, with restaurant owners and chefs adapting their operations to meet the required levels of safety in their restaurants. Takeout service has emerged as the primary source of revenue for many businesses over the past 7 months or so. Food menus have been restructured to serve the needs of delivery, meaning dishes and menu items that hold their shape well in takeout containers.
Lockdowns and dining room closures in many regions across the country are imminent, with restrictions already beginning to be imposed again in terms of hours of service. We saw that meal kits were popular in the first wave of the pandemic. Guests we're able to create some of their favorite dishes and takeout options in their own home with fresh ingredients and instructions provided by restaurants. They're engaging, a fun activity for families, and it's a chance for your guests to make something they wouldn't normally make at home.
Here's an example of the Ramen Kits over at Crafty Ramen, where you can assemble the chicken or protein, vegetables, fixins and the broth together at home. The QR codes that we mentioned earlier in this article are a way to make meal kits more of an entertaining experience. You can direct the guests right to an instructional page or video like the one Crafty Ramen does here.
At Sociavore, we want to ensure we're providing you with the tools to make sure you can provide your guests with a memorable at-home dining experience. You can set up an Online Store, where you can sell these meal kits or other branded merchandise, and you can skip the third-party delivery services by offering your own commission-free Online Ordering directly through your website. Integrations like Spotify Playlists, or our free QR code generator are there to help you go the extra mile with your takeout experience.
If you're looking for more tips on how to improve your takeout, shoot us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, we'd love to chat!