The ordinary pickup shelf is one of the most common types of restaurant equipment, yet it’s also one of the most likely to fail.
It’s used dozens of times a day, if not hundreds, by takeout customers and third-party delivery drivers. At limited-service restaurants, where more than 70% of orders are for takeout or delivery, this messy shelf is often the only point where customers interact with the brand.
In fact, pickup shelves have so many problems, they’ve become the black hole of restaurant profitability—causing lost orders, lost labor and lost profits.
The biggest risk of pickup shelves is that they provide absolutely no security for valuable off-premises orders. Any person can take any order, no questions asked. The result: Orders are picked up by the wrong people, either accidentally or deliberately. A pickup shelf makes it easy for fraudsters to pick up a free dinner, claiming they didn’t receive their order when in fact they did, because a shelf provides no record of what actually happened.
The problem is surprisingly common. Multiple franchisees of a large quick-service brand reported losing up to 30 orders a week from their pickup shelves. With an average order value of $8.50, this represents a loss of up to $255 per week, per location. A leading casual dining brand had similar problems, but with check averages of $30 or more, their losses were much greater.
Of course, lost orders are just the beginning. Labor efficiency also takes a hit because employees have to stop what they’re doing to help customers and delivery drivers figure out what happened, then double back to remake the missing orders.
Meanwhile, lines for dine-in guests build up because employees are stretched too thin.
Technology that protects profits
That’s why brands are replacing their risky order pickup shelves with a secure, tech-driven solution: OrderHQ™ Smart Food Lockers from Apex.
They combine security, automation and data to ensure operators get the right order to the right person at the right time. Their simple workflows bring immediate improvements in labor efficiency, help increase throughput and virtually eliminate waiting. With OrderHQ food lockers, operators can easily save three to five labor hours a day, per store. That’s a minimum of $1,500 a month in labor costs.
When only the right person gets the right order, operators can drive down the cost of order remakes. They can also identify discrepancies when an order pickup is disputed.
The pickup process is efficient for customers and delivery drivers, too. There’s no confusion, no checking multiple bags and no worries that other people have handled their order. They just scan or enter the order code and the right compartment door pops open. They get their order and are on their way in less than 10 seconds.
From a black hole to data clarity
Once an order is placed on a pickup shelf, an operator can only guess what will happens to it. The order may be picked up, but there’s no way of knowing who took it or when. If it’s a delivery order, the data provided may not be accurate since it relies on the driver to record timely and accurate information as they’re working.
ApexIQ™ software gives operators the data to manage their entire takeout business with metrics, especially the delivery service provider portion of that business. Operators now have a complete digital chain of custody for each order. They know when it was placed in the locker, how much time it spent in the compartment, when the notification was sent and precisely what time the customer or delivery driver picked it up.
As a result, operators have full visibility of every step in the order fulfillment and pickup process. The black hole disappears, and profits return.
As one Apex customer said, “Now I can actually manage my business. I know exactly how to hold my people accountable, and I can hold every delivery company accountable to doing their job.”
Find out how OrderHQ Smart Food Lockers can help operators reclaim lost profits and make off-premises orders as efficient and smart as the rest of their business.
This post is sponsored by Apex Order Pickup Solutions