When it comes to customer experience, savvy restaurateurs are quickly realizing the to-go order needs to be as well thought out as the dining room. The coronavirus pandemic escalated the move to delivery and curb-side pick up—what was expected to occur over years happened in a matter of weeks during 2020. 

"Now, 53% of adults say purchasing takeout or delivery food is essential to the way we live," according to the National Restaurant Association's State of the Restaurant Industry Report. Following suit, roughly half of full-service operators in the Association’s report said they plan to devote more resources to expanding off-premises business since the onset of COVID. 

In our backyard, we've heard restaurants like Hawaiian Brothers (one of our favorite local lunch spots) are rethinking their buildout, traffic flow, parking for pick-up, and the consistency of carryout places for pickup drivers. To-go orders make up 85 percent of their business, well above the predictions that online food delivery rates will grow to 40 percent of total restaurant sales by 2025.

Shake Shack1 (1)

Rise of the To-Go Order Kiosk

A key indicator of the trend to off-premise dining is the uptick in requests we've received for custom to-go order kiosks (like the one we developed for Shake Shack) to handle the demand from third-party delivery services like UberEats and Grubhub, restaurant delivery personnel, and customer pick-up. As Team IDD has worked through the design, manufacturing, and installation of to-go kiosks, we've learned a few tricks to make the process go more smoothly.

Tip #1: Make it a destination.

It's easy for a carryout kiosk to look like an afterthought or a one-off when developed in a hurry or with shelving found at IKEA or a hardware store. Ensure your brand and restaurant aesthetics carry over into the design of this area of the restaurant.

Tip #2: Make it modular.

If you have multiple restaurant locations with different footprints, designing the kiosk to be modular can help adapt the unit for various settings and make it more cost-efficient than designing kiosks independently.

Tip #3: Make it efficient.

How fresh the food tastes is dependent on time. Making the process of pickup smoother by having proper signage can decrease the time it takes to get your off-premise diners their food. When a delivery person enters the decompression zone in the restaurant's foyer, clear signage along the way and on the kiosk can help improve traffic flow and maintain efficiency.

Tip #4: Make it functional.

Maintaining the temperature of the food can help preserve the taste, so heaters and coolers are becoming features of to-go kiosks. Whether your restaurant is ready for that feature or not, ensuring the kiosk has electrical power as it's installed can help support future improvements.

Tip #5: Make it safe.

Putting a large fixture in an enclosed space comes with risk. To avoid accidents (e.g., when kids crawl on it), make sure to anchor it to the floor or tie it into the wall. 

To-go orders appear to be here to stay and in a big way, thanks to the growth of online ordering and the coronavirus pandemic. The more thoughtful you are about designing the pickup and delivery experience, the more likely you are to keep your diners coming back for more. If you'd like to learn more about our custom to-go order kiosks, reach out here

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