If you’ve felt like food-delivery service is exploding, you’re right. According to investment firm Cowen, this trend is expected to continue.

"All in, we forecast delivery to grow from $43 billion in 2017 to $76 billion in 2022, 12% annually over the next five years," said Cowen chief analyst Andrew Charles. "Our Survey data shows plenty of room for Online to take share." (Thomas Frank, “Home food delivery is surging thanks to ease of online ordering, new study shows,” CNBC, July 12, 2017)

In the wake of the enormous popularity of delivery services, there have been a plethora of firms clamoring to get a piece of the pie. GrubHub (GRUB) was used by 34% of survey respondents in a poll conducted by Cowen which was 70% higher than the next competitor. Other popular online ordering apps include Seamless, Doordash, UberEats, Postmates, Deliveroo, Eat24, OrderUp, and Amazon Restaurant. Overall the market for app-based online orders is expected to grow 79% between now and 2022. This growth presents both opportunities and potential challenges for restaurant operators.

With the emergence of these services, the way that consumers experience restaurant brands has evolved. Consumers now see a profile of each restaurant with photography, ratings, reviews, delivery times, delivery pricing and menu options all from their mobile device, tablet or computer. Having a combination of what they want, at what price, and when is key to clinching the sale. The effect of transparency places even more pressure on brands to measure up by delivering truly competitive customer experiences that delight and lead to great reviews and repeat orders. 

Apps also make it much easier to repeat favorite orders locking in customer loyalty through convenience. Once you’ve selected a restaurant and placed your order, you can easily save the order for future use. Brands that delight now have an “easy button” for loyal customers to use with their restaurants again and again—assuming of course the ultimate customer experience is a win. The landscape has truly changed.

As the industry of food-on-demand evolves you can expect further innovations in technology as well. In India we are already seeing the emergence of Chef Driven food on demand hubs that exclusively serve online orders. We are also seeing the emergence of experimentation with drone and droid delivery to automate the process of bringing food to consumers. These will be interesting technologies to watch as they promise to increase efficiency and ease of use, while promising better effectiveness at keeping food fresh while optimizing delivery speed in urban environments.

Market Force understands that a brand’s reputation is affected by all available channels. Whether customers choose to dine-in, carry-out, drive-thru or order via a food-delivery app, the experience they have has an impact on their loyalty and the perception of the brand. With the continuous evolution of food-on-demand managing and measuring performance across the various services is becoming increasingly important. Is your information displayed correctly? Are you featured on the right apps? Is the technology working as planned? Are orders going through, or are you seeing cancellations? Do consumers receive their food in a timely manner? Are delivery drivers professional? Is food packaged well, does it travel well? What is the customer’s perception of the food offering by the time it gets to their door? Would they re-order using this service, why or why not?

Answering these questions will help you to evaluate your effectiveness at executing across the multitude of apps available today. With active management of the process and the providers that can help to ensure that you are protecting your brand’s reputation, you can set yourself up for growth and success in the new world of digital dining options.

If you’d like to discuss initiatives to measure your digital dining performance get in touch with a Market Force representative today by contacting us at 1-877-329-9621 or schedule a briefing using the button below.

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Scott Griffith is Vice President, Executive Business Strategist at Market Force Information. Scott consults with client executives to design strategies that foster growth for companies in early stage ventures through IPO and beyond.