Lunch at the office used to be a low-tech undertaking. In a city center office, employees would go downstairs to grab a meal at a local restaurant. In a larger organization, they would frequent the lunchroom or cafeteria. However, as more food is ordered online, workplaces are joining the digital trend and giving employees the opportunity to get their meal using a web-based or mobile interface.
Modern lunch delivery services allow office employees to select from a wide variety of restaurants, and get a fresh, satisfying meal delivered to their door, or even cooked on-demand by a chef summoned to their office. Read on to learn more about the changing market, which type of service is right for your business, and what the future holds for food delivery in the workplace.
In this article:
- The changing market for food delivery
- Top food delivery services for offices
- Future food delivery trends
- The Outlook for food delivery
The Changing Market for Food Delivery
According to a McKinsey report, food delivery is a $93 billion business. This may sound big, but it’s only currently 4% of total purchases at restaurants around the world. In fact globally 16% of food orders are made from workplaces, while the rest are made from homes.
There are three main types of food delivery services, all of which could be used by your office.
The traditional model
Most of us have used the traditional food order delivery model, in which the customer calls the restaurant and orders a meal, and the restaurant delivers it to their door. 90% of food orders are still made this way, with most orders being made by phone.
You may also be familiar with an aggregator website, which lets customers order food from a large variety of restaurants. Different restaurant menus, prices and reviews, can be viewed and finally, customers can order from the restaurant their choice. Aggregator websites typically charge a commission from the restaurants with no additional cost for the customer. Delivery Hero, GrubHub, Foodpanda, and Just Eat are some of the world's biggest websites.
With the food delivery market growing, a new type of website is emerging that allows customers to order from restaurants that otherwise would not have provided delivery services. Direct delivery websites not only provide the web interface but also do the actual delivery for the restaurants. They charge a flat fee from customers ordering food, and also a commission from restaurants. Deliveroo and Foodora are examples that you may have already used.
Which type of service is right for your business?
It mainly depends on the number of employees you have, their preferences, and the availability of food options nearby:
- If you are a small business with only a few employees, it may be better to give your employees a lunch budget and allow them to eat in local restaurants, or order directly from a restaurant if needed.
- By contrast, if your business is larger with hundreds of employees the preference is likely to be to standardize food ordering with one online platform. Typically this is an aggregator, which will give your employees a wide range of choices, offer volume discounts, and provide convenient management and reporting options.
- Another option is direct delivery services, which provide access to exclusive and gourmet restaurants, and can be a solution for executive meals as well as catering to high profile meetings and company events.
Top Food Delivery Services For Offices
Here are a few examples of food delivery services you can consider:
Grubhub is one of the world’s biggest food delivery aggregators, operating across the USA. The service is office-friendly, allowing you to provide access to many employees, and benefit from central management and one monthly payment. They also provide detailed reporting that can help you plan your food budget and a personal account manager for each company account.
Platterz is available in several large cities in the USA and Canada, as well as in Stockholm, Sweden. They offer event catering, lunch, and snacks, and allow your employees to order lunch from multiple restaurants in your chosen city. An additional option is having the participating restaurants send a chef to cook fresh food at your office.
ezCater is offered in hundreds of cities in almost all US states. It allows users to order food from a variety of restaurants, via a modern app that makes ordering easy and convenient. The service offers a reward system that you can leverage to reduce costs or enable your employees to enjoy occasional gifts.
ZeroCater is a business catering service offered in major USA cities. It provides an app and web portal with an advanced ability to customize menus and catering options to fit your office’s needs. It can help you manage and remember the dietary preferences of specific employees or departments, and set up a recurring meal schedule to streamline the food ordering process.
Future Food Delivery Trends
The following trends will define the future of the food delivery industry and are likely to affect company food ordering and office culture.
Millennials are driving online delivery
Millennials, who have a fast-paced lifestyle, are much more likely to order out or eat at restaurants than cook themselves. At the office, millennials don’t have time for the traditional lunch and prefer quick and convenient ordering services. At the same time, they are more demanding when it comes to ordering, expecting instant delivery, a convenient experience, and a high-quality meal.
New delivery channels
Today, most food deliveries are ordered by phone, web portal or mobile application. All three of these channels will evolve and provide improved convenience—for example, phone ordering is improving by sending a link to a mobile ordering menu, while websites and apps are improving their user interface and streamlining the ordering process.
In addition, new ordering options are emerging:
- Virtual assistants—food delivery services are starting to work with virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. The assistant can take a verbal food order and announce the delivery time.
- Chatbots— AI-powered chatbots will increasingly be used as part of food ordering interfaces, making it easier to ask questions about dietary preferences and find food options faster. It will no longer be necessary to call a restaurant to ask about a particular dish or provide special instructions.
- Ordering with a smartwatch—several food delivery providers, including Domino’s and OrderUp, are already supporting smartwatches. The ability to order food in seconds from a watch brings ordering convenience to a new level. Interest in smartwatches is also increasing: in 2018, around 141 million smartwatches were sold. This is why many food delivery platforms have integrated with smartwatches so that customers can order meals from their wrists in a few clicks. Domino’s was the first to launch an app for Android watches that drastically simplifies ordering. OrderUp has also introduced their latest update for the Apple Watch, allowing customers to place orders, track delivery statuses, and see the estimated time of arrival.
Alternative delivery options
Food delivery companies are looking for new ways to deliver, to bypass the problem of recruiting drivers and managing deliveries in congested city centers.
- Crowdsourcing—restaurants and food delivery services are using crowdsourced delivery services, which leverage existing private vehicles of drivers in the delivery location. This can help deliver food faster, while lowering the impact of delivery services on urban congestion and the environment.
- Robots—hundreds of startups are developing autonomous delivery technologies, for example, Starship Technologies developed a pavement-surfing robot that can deliver food automatically within a ten mile radius. The robots are typically equipped with a locker containing the food order, which can be opened via the user’s smartphone.
The Outlook for Food Delivery
Like many other aspects of our digital life, food delivery is fast, convenient, and offers more options than ever before.
At the time of writing, all aspects of consumer behaviour are being affected by the current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), including food consumption. For the many individuals cautious to leave their workplaces or homes, or even quarantined, food delivery presents an attractive option enabling them to enjoy restaurant-quality meals without having to physically go out.
Regardless of the current worldwide situation, it is certain that food delivery is a quickly evolving trend that is here to stay. For businesses, in particular, being able to provide employees and potential employees with convenient, high-quality meals, provides an attractive workplace incentive.