- Orders placed for pickup offer the shortest wait times, according to Rakuten Ready's ROI Study, with wait times up to 2.4-times faster than other service methods. But 33% of study respondents said they believed drive-thru was the fasted channel to buy food during peak times, when pickup is on average 1.7 times faster. Almost half of respondents also ranked the drive-thru as their preferred ordering method.
- Seventy-five percent of consumers would use order for pickup to skip long lines, according to the study, and 80% would use the channel instead of delivery if they knew their order would be ready when they arrived. But only 10% of study respondents rated order for pickup as their preferred way to order, ranking it third below drive-thru and in-person ordering, respectively, but above delivery.
- According to Rakuten, restaurants should optimize their mobile pickup channel by investing in frictionless solutions including 1) providing clearly marked, designated parking spots for mobile order customers 2) creating separate prep lines for mobile orders 3) allowing diners to skip the line by having orders ready when they arrive 4) incentivizing first-time pickup orders with discounts or free items.
A number of restaurant brands have already made significant investments to drive increased mobile pickup orders. Across the board, restaurants are adding order for pickup options to their mobile apps, with integration increasing 6% last year, with chains like Chipotle, Del Taco, Shake Shack and KFC adding pickup ordering capabilities over the last two years.
Growing pickup volume takes more than just launching a new option on a restaurant's digital app, however. Rakuten Ready points out that several steps have to happen for a brand to be ready to make order for pickup work. This starts with updating store infrastructure to include designated pickup-only parking spots and adding easy-to-read signage to let consumers know where they should go to retrieve their orders. Dedicated pickup lines and separate back-of-house prep lines for mobile orders can also optimize the offering.
Chipotle has made significant infrastructure updates to this end and they appear to be paying off. The brand boasts one of the fastest in-store pickup times, with 88% of orders ready in less than two minutes. It has added dedicated drive-thrus for mobile pickup orders called Chipotlanes, and now operates at at least 60. Blaze Pizza is also experimenting with the concept via its Blaze-Thrus and Cava is testing car pickup locations.
Other brands are experimenting with pickup-only locations as well, such as Chopt and Starbucks in New York City, while others are adding pickup lockers to allow customers to grab their orders without having to go through an employee first. Wingstop, which reported 80% off-premise sales, added lockers earlier this year and Pizza Hut piloted self-service pickup cubbies. Meanwhile, Chipotle has added mobile pickup shelves for stores that don’t feature Chipotlanes and is testing a new restaurant design centering around walk-up windows in certain high-density urban areas.
There is a big role for technology to play in ensuring that consumers don't have a bad order for pickup experience. Some technologies provide stores with an alert when a customer who placed a mobile order is approaching the store so that the items can be ready, such as with Domino's Pie Pass. This is critically important for ready-to-eat food to ensure optimum quality instead of sending someone home with cold, soggy, and subpar food. Technologies enabling order for pickup can also upsell items by suggesting add-ons or remembering someone's favorite items and suggesting they order them again.