The rise of made-to-order foodservice has presented convenience store retailers with an operations dilemma. While customers have taken to the freshly prepared meals and snacks, they still expect instantaneous service and minimal lines.
The pandemic has also created a demand for contactless or at least semi-contactless shopping. A growing number of retailers are meeting these customer expectations by allowing them to order ahead from the menu before they arrive at the store.
Long before fresh foodservice became an industry staple, customers relied on their neighborhood convenience stores for quick and easy in and out shopping. C-stores that offered sandwiches, salads, pizza and/or chicken expanded that service with grab-and-go offerings in hot and cold cases.
Customers who place their orders in advance by telephone, through your website and/or via mobile app can get the made-to-order foods they crave with the timeliness and convenience of grab and go.
Preparing your stores to accept and expedite advance orders is not difficult, but it does take some planning. The first order of action is to set aside a space in the store dedicated to taking and holding order ahead items. These orders can go straight to the kitchen, or specific staff members out front can be trained to accept the orders and route them to the kitchen to be filled.
For added convenience for your customers and a higher ring for you, consider including other grocery and non-food items along with your foodservice products for order ahead availability. Decide if you have the capability to have customers pay when they place their orders or if you prefer them to pay at the store.
Customers ordering ahead should be alerted as to how long it will take for their orders to be ready for pickup to minimize in-store wait time. If there is a line at the foodservice counter, have staffers find out if any of the customers who are waiting have ordered ahead so they can hand them their food right away.