Technology

Off-Premise Order “Shoplifting”: Why It Matters, And How To End It

Apex Order Pickup Solutions

In the past year, several major retail brands have been surprisingly frank with investors about the big financial hits they’ve taken due to theft and fraud. Yet the restaurant industry has been mostly silent about its similar problem: off-premise orders that are lost due to customer pickup mistakes, delivery driver errors and the restaurant version of shoplifting.

Restaurants that are only using a countertop or a pickup shelf to manage off-premise orders give shoplifters easy pickings with customer orders. Since this final step of the order journey usually has no technology to organize or verify what occurs, operators have no data to inform them about what takes place. Ultimately, when an order goes missing, a team member usually has to remake it, increasing the restaurant’s food and labor costs and quite often damaging its relationship with the customer.

Ironically, most restaurants have invested in a slew of software and tech to complete orders to their high standards of quality, as quickly as possible. But when it comes to safeguarding orders and ensuring they go to the right customer at the right time, they simply leave it up to luck.

Why order security matters

With restaurant margins so thin, a pattern of lost or stolen orders should be dealt with immediately. Here are some of the most obvious reasons why:

  • Lost orders increase labor costs, trapping employees in an endless cycle of interruptions and lost productivity.
  • Lost orders increase food costs, since they require a complete remake in most cases.
  • Lost orders damage the customer experience and can lead to losing customers for good.

Without a way to secure those orders and data to show what’s happening, the problem will continue.

Why keeping off-premise orders behind the counter kills profits

To fight the problem, restaurants have started keeping off-premise orders behind the counter and using employee time to hand them off to customers and delivery drivers. This is not only inconvenient for the customer and disruptive for employees, but it’s also expensive for the operator. For each takeout or delivery customer, an employee must stop what they’re doing, find their order and hand it over, stealing precious minutes from service to dine-in customers or order production. That effect is then multiplied over the course of several hours during multiple peak day parts. 

So how can restaurants keep off-premise orders secure and organized while making it easy for the right person to pick up? And how do they make sure the right order goes to the right customer without using an employee’s valuable time?

Dozens of brands and foodservice operators have found their answer in smart food lockers like those from Apex Order Pickup Solutions.

With smart food lockers, an employee can simply load the finished order in the locker and never have to touch it again. They don’t have to worry about anyone taking an order that isn’t theirs, so food remake costs drop quickly.

The software gives operators new insights and understanding of the order pickup process, with data to show who picked up the order and when, as well as the time elapsed from the moment it was loaded. That provides important metrics that highlight areas for process improvement or providing additional training for an employee.

Customers love pickup lockers, too, because they don’t have to wait for an employee to help them, or search through lots of bags on a pickup shelf. They simply scan their order code and take their food in about 10 seconds. It’s fast, secure and predictable.

Making delivery pickup foolproof and fast

When drivers pick up delivery orders, their main thought is often, “I hope this is fast.” They don’t want to wait for an employee to help them or search through dozens of bags for the order they need. They just want a simple, reliable process that gets them in and out quickly.

Smart pickup lockers make the entire process secure and verifiable. Drivers are assured they’ve got the entire order every time, and they’re in and out in seconds. Operators get data to confirm that the steps in the process were completed. It’s a seamless, foolproof process for all parties and helps delivery drivers make the best use of their time, while ensuring the customer gets the fastest service possible.

Off-premise sales continue to account for a growing percentage of restaurants’ sales and ordering for pickup is making a strong comeback due to “delivery fee fatigue.” That makes it more important for restaurants to get control of those orders. Talk to Apex Order Pickup Solutions and discover how easy it is to start offering a better customer experience based on secure, reliable order pickup.

This post is sponsored by Apex Order Pickup Solutions

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