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4 off-premise trends to watch in 2020

As the world of takeout, delivery, ghost kitchens and more continues to evolve, here are four developments to keep an eye on in the coming year.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Demand for off-premise is growing at a rapid clip—so much so that some operators are struggling to keep up. For instance, 56% of consumers order delivery from restaurants’ websites, but just 45% of operators offer that option, according to a recent report from the National Restaurant Association and Technomic. As the world of takeout, delivery, ghost kitchens and more continues to evolve, here are four developments to keep an eye on in the coming year.

Third-party delivery continues to expand

The off-premise market grew 5.2% from 2017-2018, driven primarily by a 29% jump of third-party delivery. Marketplaces will keep growing as consumers continue to rely on them. As these services grow their national presence, large chains will continue to lead the charge in negotiating lower commissions, more data sharing and other benefits.

Modernized drive-thrus

The drive-thru remains the largest off-premise channel for restaurants. Sixty-two percent of consumers visit drive-thrus at least once a month, according to Technomic’s Off-Premise 3.0 report. And, importantly, check averages at the drive-thru are up. Many operators are investing in upgraded menu boards and speaker systems, while others are adding pickup options specifically for delivery drivers. Others are investing even more in technology, from integrated geofencing and license plate readers to AI voice ordering and dynamic menu boards.

Food safety implications

Right now, lack of trust in delivery drivers is on the rise, but just 34% of operators offer tamper-proof packaging, according to Technomic. That’s in part because many struggle to find affordable, high-quality tamper-proof packaging—an opportunity for packaging suppliers in the coming year.

Mobile modifications

Many operators are trying to drive digital orders from third-party platforms to their own branded channels, making third-party deliverers both partners and competition for these restaurant brands. Both are trying to optimize the mobile experience for customers to gain loyalty. Third-party marketplaces have used order data to see that consumers filter searches for free delivery and cuisine or restaurant type more frequently than by rating or price, and have adjusted accordingly. Meanwhile, many restaurants are focused on menu optimization and simplifying the order-and-pay experience to require as few clicks as possible.

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