Amid Ongoing Labor Challenges, Operators Turn To Tech To Optimize The Order Hand-Off Process

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It’s not news that restaurant operators are dealing with labor challenges. From staffing shortages to increases in minimum wage, it’s never been more important to have a streamlined, efficient operation where every worker is focused on valuable tasks rather than menial ones.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, 22 U.S. states increased their minimum wages on January 1 of this year, raising pay for an estimated 9.9 million workers. As such, operators are looking for ways to get the most out of their labor spend—and for many, that means turning to automation.

Automating order handoff for off-premise orders isn’t new—many operations, both commercial and non-commercial, have been utilizing automated solutions to ensure order accuracy and to minimize waste and food cost. But as labor challenges continue, more operators may be considering making the switch, and for good reason—smart food lockers not only save time and optimize labor use, but they also ensure order accuracy, boost customer satisfaction and limit waste.

Problems with pickup shelves

When the rise of off-premise orders hit restaurants, many dealt with the volume of orders by simply implementing a table or shelf delivery drivers or customers could pick up from. But those shelves, while easy, aren’t efficient and can lead to lost or stolen orders, a rise in food cost and unhappy customers who have to wait for their food to be remade if the wrong person took their order.

If a customer or delivery driver mistakenly takes the wrong order—or if someone takes multiple orders that aren’t theirs, the kitchen staff has to stop what they’re doing and remake those items. What’s more, on top of the additional labor cost comes additional food cost, as the restaurant still has to fulfill the order for the right person. In short, unorganized, unmonitored pickup shelves might be convenient, but they’re not the best option—and they can lead to even slimmer margins for restaurants.

So what’s the alternative?

Smart food lockers—a logical solution

To avoid the issues caused by disorganized pickup shelves, many restaurant operators have turned to technology for help. Smart food lockers, such as those from Apex Order Pickup Solutions, allow operators to safely store every customer’s order in its own space, where only that customer can get to it using a specific code. Kitchen staff simply place the order in its designated locker, then the customer or delivery driver takes the order and goes on their way. A customizable timer ensures orders don’t sit out too long if they’re not picked up. Not only are orders delivered accurately, but operators can collect data from the lockers as well, such as how long customers or delivery drivers take to pick up their order once notified. With smart food lockers, operators not only don’t have to worry about remaking orders or theft, but they also get data for the last step in the order’s journey.

Best of all, workers don’t have to stop what they’re doing to find a customer’s order behind the counter, or waste valuable time remaking food from stolen orders. In short, smart food lockers offer restaurants a number of benefits, from customer satisfaction to order security, to reduced food waste and labor spend. This gives restaurant operators a reliable way to combat their ongoing labor challenges.

To learn more about Apex OrderHQ™ Smart Food Lockers, visit

This post is sponsored by Apex Order Pickup Solutions


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