Food Delivery Safety: Control the Risks
A hot pizza at your door in 30 minutes or less. This delivery stereotype set the standard for food delivery well before the burst of food delivery companies. The standard still holds today: deliver the right food product in a reasonable amount of time, and ready to be enjoyed by the customer.
In 2012, the food delivery industry, so far mainly controlled by individual restaurants and brands, was put to the challenge in Europe with the appearance of the first European food delivery platforms for restaurants that don’t have their own drivers. Soon, the rise of the sharing economy allowed for several well-known food delivery brands to appear, taking advantage of improved mobile technology. Today, the sharing economy based on third-parties blurs the line between grocery shopping, eating out, and cooking at home. Innovation comes with a new challenge: to guarantee food safety.
The food delivery process is as complicated as any other logistical process, with the particularity that we are often dealing with perishable goods. This means that speed, route optimization, proper handling and climatization are vital to the process.
Grocery retailers with home delivery service have worked to adopt food safety regulations and innovate on food preservation and packaging methods. An important innovation are delivery management platforms like URBANTZ, that allow retailers to step up their delivery process with more optimized routes and reduce the amount of time perishable items are on the move. Nevertheless, also in the grocery delivery sector, this process is put to the challenge when customers opt to order ad hoc groceries directly on delivery platforms. Even if the retailer handles the product at first, it might not be fully aware of the transport conditions.
What about the local eateries that flourished with the ‘new-delivery’ sharing economy?
Often there’s no link between the restaurant and the client – the delivery platform is the only intermediary. Because food delivery platforms see themselves solely as logistic operators, there are risks involved for the food delivered to both the client and the restaurant. Let’s see.
1. Poor product information: Make the test: go into one of the food delivery apps on your smartphone, place an order and then try to find detailed information about the product you bought. Most likely you won’t find relevant data on ingredients, allergens or nutritional values without digging deep on the restaurant’s website. Food delivery platforms’ business is the consumer data (what, when, how much) and not the details of the product. This can cause serious constraints for customers and eventually bring liability to the restaurant. A solution might go through to regulate the information the platforms are obliged to share, allowing the customer to take informed decisions.
2. Packaging and transport: Some of the risks associated with transport are related to 1) couriers often mix hot and cold products, storing food in unsafe temperatures; 2) food spending too much time on the road or 3) improper transport conditions. We already explored some of the solutions found by the online grocery shopping industry. Even so, it’s clearly not possible for food delivery platforms to have the same kind of climatizing technology. Easy solutions are using special insulating delivery bags, separate food and restrict the number of pick-up stops on the way to a delivery.
3. The Rise of the Dark Kitchen: A Dark Kitchen is not a villain in a horror movie, it is just the restaurant’s industry response to increased competition, decrease of seating patrons and the online ordering trend. Basically, a Dark Kitchen is a delivery-only establishment accessible solely online, without a physical business you can visit. Despite the concept’s high adaptation to new market trends and conditions, it poses some regulation risks. These kitchens are mostly promoted by the delivery platforms and can serve several ‘brand restaurants’ in a same kitchen – accountability and liability for product quality might be at risk. As dark kitchens are here to stay, consumers need to be more aware of the businesses they order from, and always check their order before accepting it.
The new platforms brought many advantages for the customer and restaurant industry. Small restaurants with no in-house driver found a way to expand the business and offer home-delivery services, tapping into a growing market expected to rise nearly 20% by 2030. At the same time that eating out is decreasing and eating in is trending, proving essential for brick and mortar restaurants to adapt to online orders. For customers, it provides more options to choose, better offers and faster deliveries that fit into a fast-paced lifestyle.
At URBANTZ we developed a feature thinking about food safety and client satisfaction. The Product Management feature, available for selected clients, makes it easier to reject undesired products or that are not in ideal conditions easier. And all with a fully automatized audit trail. Check out our other features.