Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen an unprecedented shift in consumer behavior. Many states have mandated “stay at home” orders while COVID-19 continues to spread across the country. Restaurants have been forced to close down in-house dining and shift to delivery and pick-up only models to keep their doors open, and restaurant closures are increasing everyday. Online ordering has been key as restaurants seek vital revenue, but it may not be enough.

Restaurant owners and operators have started becoming more creative with their delivery options to capture more orders. Here are some key trends we’ve seen over the past few weeks, and some ideas to consider as you shift towards delivery:

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1. Groceraunts: Selling Groceries Out of Your Restaurant

Several clever restaurants have turned towards grocery delivery utilizing their remaining inventory. As consumers steer away from visiting grocery stores, or waiting in long lines, grocery delivery has been at an all time high. Mark up your ingredients and sell them as individual items to generate more orders for your restaurant.

Example: Del Frisco’s is selling their Produce and Meats as raw, single packaged items.

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/348575

2. Selling Bottles of Wine, Beer, Liquor for Delivery

Several states have lifted their ban on the delivery of spirits through third-party platforms, which allows you to sell unopened bottles of wine, 6 packs of beer, or bottles of booze through Uber Eats, Postmates, etc. As long as you’re delivering booze with a seal, you can sell your extra inventory directly to customers.

Example: Run for the Roses Bar is serving pre-mixed drinks, marked up to account for delivery costs. All proceeds go to supporting their staff’s financial needs during this time.

3. Extras Added for a Delivery Minimum

Toilet paper has become “white gold” as shortages stretched far and wide affecting grocery stores and general supply stores. However, many restaurants have restrooms, which means they may have remaining rolls of toilet paper. Consider adding an additional item (like TP) for a delivery minimum you set to drive additional revenue and increase your basket size.

Example: DoorDash offers toilet paper and grocery delivery, including other necessities from convenience stores.

https://www.doordash.com/store/the-dutch-eatery-refuge-tucson-170405/en-US

4. Simplify Your Online Menu

Keep your menu simple. Have menu items that travel well, and menu items you don’t plan to run out of. Sometimes, customers just want simple, delicious basic meals.

Tips for your online ordering menu: https://www.ordermark.com/how-can-menu-tweaks-help-maximize-profits

5. Virtual Kitchens, a New Avenue of Revenue

Online ordering is at an all time high, but customers are looking for new and innovative restaurants to place orders from. Open a delivery-only concept directly from your existing customers to reach new customers and increase revenue.

Example: Nextbite helps you start a turnkey Virtual Restaurant, fast

6. Family Packs & Large Orders

Customers placing online orders have increased the number of items ordered, many stating that they want an order to last them a couple of days worth of meals. By including large family combinations or “party” packs, you’ll be more attractive to large families sheltering in place.

https://www.kansas.com/entertainment/restaurants/dining-with-denise-neil/article241501346.html

7. Food & Booze Bundles

With liquor laws loosened, consider putting together food & booze packs or offer a bottle of wine as a “gift” for an order minimum. You can do large orders of pasta and breadsticks, and throw in a bottle of wine for any order over $100.

https://rftrbar.square.site/

8. DIY Kits

While some consumers may be wary about ordering prepared foods, some creative operators have shifted towards “take and bake” or DIY kits. Poutine Brothers, an LA-based food truck, has offered Poutine Take-home Kits, with instructions on how to prepare the meal at home yourself.

https://www.foodandwine.com/news/shake-shack-burger-kits-delivery-goldbelly

9. Extend Your Delivery Hours

As more and more restaurants shift to delivery, competition on each platform is increasing. Consider extending your delivery hours to an earlier open time, or a later close time to capture those early birds and night owls.

https://modernrestaurantmanagement.com/10-strategies-to-attract-restaurant-customers/

10. Giving Back to First-responders

Many Americans understand the effects of COVD-19 on hospital workers and first-responders, but many don’t know how to help or support their community. Consider partnering with a local hospital or group and offer “buy one, donate one” meals. You’ll drive more orders and support your community in the same breath.

https://www.kktv.com/content/news/Local-reality-team–569195321.html

https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/free-food-for-healthcare-workers

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11. Premake and Bottle Your Own Delicious Cocktails

Premake your cocktails in batches, and bottle them yourself (in something simple, like a mason jar). Now the cocktails travel well and customers just add their own ice. Don’t forget to include the garnishes!

https://www.dmagazine.com/food-drink/2020/03/texas-joins-states-allowing-restaurants-to-sell-booze-with-takeout-or-delivery-food-orders/

12. High-end Restaurants to a Quick-service Delivery Business

Delivery isn’t just for fast-casual and quick-service restaurants, anymore. Simplify your high-end menu to a few easy to make meals and get your restaurant up on several delivery channels to reach customers at home.

https://www.eater.com/2020/3/13/21178890/fine-dining-restaurants-react-coronavirus-covid-19-takeout

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/19/fine-dining-restaurants-scramble-to-start-delivery-to-stay-afloat.html

13. Delivery minimums get gift cards

To entice guests to order from your restaurant, consider offering a gift card for a delivery minimum (i.e. $25 gift card for $50 delivery order). Offering a gift card that can only be used in person means customers will order from you now, and visit your location once you reopen your dining room.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/voraciously/wp/2020/03/18/gift-cards-merchandise-and-to-go-orders-heres-how-restaurants-say-customers-should-support-them/

14. Virtual Tip Jar for Restaurants

Set up a Virtual Tip Jar (like this one) directly on your website to collect tips for your staff, digitally. This can help provide an additional source of income for your staff, and while you may not collect a huge amount, it’s a sign of goodwill towards your stressed employees.

15. Discounted Popular Menu Items

Offer a discount on your most popular items. This will help drive more traffic to your online ordering business, and customers sheltering in place are more likely to place larger orders. If a favorite item is discounted, they may be more inclined to add something new, also.

16. Offer Curbside Service

Patrons can remain in their cars and can call ahead when they are arriving if you offer curbside pickup. Food can be brought out to them, like a pseudo-drive-thru! (Reserve a couple spots out in front in preparation)

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/03/31/coronavirus-curbside-pickup-social-distancing/2901743001/

17. Deliver Cuts of Steaks/Meats/Fish Pre-Packaged

Patrons can order multiple steaks to take home and cook for themselves over the next few days. This is similar to a DIY kit, but patrons may only want to order your proteins, so offering a variety of different packaged meats may increase your revenue.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/dining/restaurant-delivery-takeout-coronavirus.html

18. Offer “Meal-Prep” Meals to be Heated at Home

Increase your average order amount by offering a week’s worth of “meal-prepped” foods. These meals should already be cooked and be ready to warm up for a simple, easy breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can offer 3, 5, or 7 days worth of food customers can keep stored in the fridge.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/04/01/covid-19-how-shop-fresh-food-if-you-coronavirus-keeping-you-away-home-bound-can-order-fresh-produce/5102798002/

19. Reservations Sites turned into Online Ordering Platforms

While dining room closures continue to spread throughout the US, reservations sites have turned to online ordering and delivery to help restaurants continue to reach customers.

Example: OpenTable offers links to third-party online ordering platforms

20. Create a Customer Loyalty Program

Create a digital Customer Loyalty Program directly through your website to generate new customers, and have your current customers ordering more frequently.

https://www.touchbistro.com/blog/3-ways-to-build-customer-loyalty/

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Macy Walp

Macy Walp

SoCal native and self-proclaimed “foodie”, Macy educates Ordermarks customers on the emerging new shift of online ordering. Her restaurant experience and background in marketing and social media management allow her to keep her finger on the pulse of the industry and guide restaurants towards a successful online ordering business.