The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way most industries operate, especially the restaurant business. With social distancing guidelines, an increasing number of consumers are turning toward online ordering to get their food.
While online ordering is a quick, convenient way to get meals, it does come with a few problems. Because there's less customer interaction, there's a higher risk of mistakes — for instance, when customers come to pick up their food, it's common to accidentally grab the wrong takeout bag. Moreover, if a customer is running late, their food may no longer be fresh, which reflects negatively on your business. To help resolve these issues, more and more restaurants are turning towards the latest in food innovation: food lockers.
What Are Food Lockers?
A food locker is an exciting piece of restaurant technology that's revolutionizing the way people pick up takeout orders. Put simply, it's a device designed to store food at a certain temperature. Accessible to customers and delivery drivers, it facilitates the transfer of meals from the restaurant to the consumer. While food lockers have been around since before the COVID-19 pandemic, they've become especially popular now that more people are trying to social distance.
What Are The Advantages of Food Lockers?
From traditional restaurants and food halls to ghost kitchens and fast food chains, anyone that's in the food industry can enjoy the benefits of food lockers. Here are some of the key advantages they offer.
Fewer Mistakes and Customer Mix-Ups
There's nothing more frustrating than getting a negative review for something that was out of your control. If a customer or delivery driver accidentally grabs the wrong takeout container, your business will suffer as a result.
Food lockers reduce the risk of mix-ups by connecting orders with pins or QR codes. Thus, customers can only access the correct orders.
Lower Customer Wait Times
To reduce order confusion, some restaurants might assign an employee to manually hand out takeout orders. While this helps ensure that the right person is getting their order, this system is not efficient if you have lots of takeout orders. Not only does it take the time and energy of a staff member, but it also makes customers wait in line to get their order. The longer they wait, the more frustrated they get with your business.
With food lockers, customers can skip the line by gaining direct access to their order. Some lockers even let you send out an alert to the customer when their food is ready, further lowering the time they spend waiting.
Better Tasting Food
One of the worst things about eating takeout is that the quality of the food tends to be lower than that of dine-in meals. This is typically due to temperatures — your meal may be piping hot when it's made, but cold by the time you pick it up.
Food lockers let restaurants preserve meals at a precise temperature. If a meal is served best hot or chilled, you can keep it that way until the customer picks it up. Better tasting meals translates to better reviews.
Fewer Theft Rates
Most restaurants don't bother to check ID when a customer comes in for their order. While most people are only interested in their own orders, there are always dishonest people looking to steal a free meal. Unfortunately, it's incredibly easy for someone to come in and take somebody else's food.
By giving pins and codes to paying customers, food lockers make it virtually impossible for a thief to take another person's meal. This helps boost your reputation and save money in the long run.
More Conserved Space
Unless you have a large restaurant, managing takeout orders can consume your valuable space. Many customers will wait inside your business for their food, which can make it crowded. This is especially difficult if you own a ghost kitchen, which already lacks space due to the omission of the typical dine-in area.
What makes food lockers great is that they generally don't take up much space. You can install them near the back of your kitchen, giving customers quick and easy access to their food without having them clog up your space.
Where Can I Get A Food Locker?
Now that you know the advantages of food lockers, you might be wondering: where can I get one of these myself? You can obtain a food locker from one of the following companies:
- Panasonic: This company offers "smart lockers" that can integrate with your current ordering system.
- Hatco: Hatco offers multiple food locker models, letting you choose the one that best meets your needs.
- Grubbrr: You can find customizable, contact-less food lockers through Grubbr.
No matter which company you go with, you can trust that incorporating a food locker into your online ordering system will take your business to the next level!