Bottlenecks in Gastronomy - Better to Prevent or "Cure"?

During the peak of the summer season, many bars and restaurants face the challenge of so-called bottlenecks in the order fulfillment process. Insufficient numbers of suppliers, lack of an appropriate fleet of vehicles, or problems with coordinating orders from many different channels can result in customer dissatisfaction with service and lead to significant financial losses. What difficulties do restaurateurs complain about? What processes are they struggling with on their own?

Many Channels, Several Systems, and Integration Falters

Currently, apart from physical outlets, the gastronomy industry uses many different order channels such as websites, mobile apps, delivery platforms, or telephone orders. Each of these has its own supporters and operates based on different rules, data formats, and application programming interfaces (APIs), which significantly complicates and hinders the order fulfillment process.

In simplification - what do restaurateurs want? Hassle-free data management. What does this mean in practice? They need a tool that allows them to group orders, organize deliveries, relieve employees, and conduct demand analysis. Gaining insightful information about orders, customer preferences, or the popularity of dishes is an equally important part of the business.

There are solutions available on the market that allow for the integration of orders from popular apps in one place and connecting them with courier companies and POS (Point of Sale) systems, thereby simplifying order management for restaurateurs.

We currently serve over a thousand gastronomic venues in several dozen cities in Poland, including chains like Charlotte, North Fish, and Makarun. These are companies that are developing in the digital age and are looking for ways to streamline their business. Restaurateurs expect easy access to online order systems and platforms, but they also value the simplicity of managing the entire process from a single tablet,” says Arek Bielecki, co-founder of Restimo, a company that exemplifies such a solution.

One Car, One Supplier

Offering their own delivery service is a compromise for many restaurateurs between control over the entire process (in terms of speed and quality of service) and the costs of management. Restaurateurs point out that implementing self-delivery requires them to think in new categories (employment, logistics, customer contact) and often comes with difficulties whose effects grow exponentially. For instance, situations where the delivery vehicle breaks down, the employee responsible for deliveries falls ill, or the demand for orders turns out to be too high compared to the ability to fulfill them.

Thinking about developing their own channel, network owners increasingly turn towards logistical support from an independent fleet of couriers. This is an attractive option especially for those for whom investing in and managing their own transport means is a tough nut to crack.

The aim is to improve service not only for special occasions but also on a daily basis, as data shows that as many as 22% of Poles order food delivery at least once a week [1]. Modern courier companies not only have their own extensive network of suppliers and vehicles but also use the latest technological advancements, such as geolocation of couriers or economic planning of delivery routes using artificial intelligence, which allows for delivering food to various parts of the city in the shortest possible time.

One of the main advantages is the ability to easily scale deliveries in case of an increase in orders. The restaurant doesn't have to worry about a lack of sufficient vehicles or drivers. The logistics platform has the necessary resources to respond to such a need 'here and now'. This contributes to better quality of delivery service and undoubtedly increases the customer's trust in the restaurant itself,” says Agnieszka Majewska, General Manager at Stuart, a company offering a modern logistics platform for the gastronomy industry.

Not Just Integration: Why is it Worth Taking Care of Your Own Channel?

Imagine the following scenario. A restaurant enjoys popularity among its visiting customers, although a significant portion are discouraged by queues in front of the small venue. It doesn't offer delivery services, nor is it present in the virtual world – the owners have focused solely on in-house sales. The result?

The lack of an available online ordering channel results in the loss of potential customers who expect the convenience and speed of ordering food via mobile devices. However, using the solutions of popular marketplaces involves covering commissions that sometimes even reach 30% of the order value. Moreover, exclusive presence on marketplace platforms poses a barrier in building one's own brand and customer loyalty, as in such a case, customers often identify the restaurant only with the platform, not the specific place.

In such a case, it's worth considering implementing one's own delivery channel with the support of external partners. It’s important to remember that a significant percentage of people placing orders online still prefer to do so directly from the restaurant [2]. A gastronomic venue executing online orders through its own channel can save on commissions, thereby guaranteeing a lower price for the purchased meal to its customers.

There are also several tools available to encourage customers to order directly through the restaurant's website or app. For example, one of the Japanese cuisine chains in Warsaw has been consistently offering free delivery or discounts on the next online order directly from their channel for years, which constitutes about 60% of their orders.

The above-mentioned actions taken by restaurants can positively impact not only increasing efficiency but also improving service quality, leading to building a solid brand in the gastronomic market. Only by effectively solving the problem of bottlenecks can restaurants meet the growing demands of customers and achieve success in an exceptionally competitive industry.

[1] https://www.horecanet.pl/rynek-dostawcow-horeca-w-polsce-raport/ 2022
[2] Food Guide, Stuart, 2023, s.17

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