The popularity of online delivery services has been on the rise for years, and recently demand has skyrocketed in part due to stay-at-home orders. In fact, Upserve found that for restaurants online ordering has grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic since 2014. In addition, the average American will order takeout at least once a week.
And it’s not just restaurants that have benefited from the recent boom online ordering. Consumers are taking advantage of services to have food, groceries, clothing, and household items delivered to their front door.
As small businesses begin the process of reopening, delivery services are expected to remain a popular option for consumers.
But, a sharp increase in demand has left some small businesses struggling to keep up. Here’s a look at how you can increase your capacity for online delivery services.
1. Prioritize orders
To increase the efficiency of your online delivery services, you should assign each order as a high or low priority. Setting order priorities will help you determine which orders need to be sent out first. Here are some criteria you can use to set priorities:
- Repeat clients and those who pay extra delivery fees for expedited delivery times should be given a high priority
- If you offer grocery delivery, orders with predominantly perishable items should get priority over orders that only contain non-perishable items
2. Utilize order batching
Order batching consists of putting multiple orders together for one delivery run and is usually based on the location of the recipient and peak order times. For example, many grocery stores and restaurants may experience an increase in demand during lunch and dinner. At the same time, many orders may also be in the same neighborhood. So, you can have your driver leave with all orders for one neighborhood at one time rather than just sending drivers out as orders come in.
3. Automate delivery windows
To make your online delivery services more timely and efficient, try using software that can automate your delivery schedule and give customers an accurate delivery window. This might seem simple, but being able to accurately and easily see all of your delivery windows can help you manage the availability of your drivers, vehicles, and inventory.
Automatic delivery windows will also help set realistic expectations for your customers which can help prevent negative customer feedback. Keep in mind, in times of high demand, some late deliveries may be unavoidable. Make sure you have a plan to handle negative reviews in order to maintain a positive experience for your customers.
4. Listen to your drivers
Your drivers are the ones actually out there making deliveries. As a result, they have more insight into delivery routes and times than you do, and their input can help to improve your delivery capabilities.
For example, they can identify high-traffic areas that pose a problem to delivery times. In addition, assign your drivers to neighborhoods they’re already familiar with to reduce the likelihood of delivery errors or delays.
5. Use route management tools
There are plenty of tools out there that can help you maintain communication with your team even while they’re on the road. Route organization and managers allow you to see where all your drivers are and the delivery status of each order. These tools can also generate reports so you can analyze your delivery performance.
6. Don’t forget about insurance
Whether you’re reopening your business, or adding new services to meet shifting consumer needs, it’s important to go over your current policies and consider adding new ones. While insurance won’t help you make faster deliveries, it will protect your business from unfortunate scenarios. Here are some policies worth considering:
Commercial auto: this policy is a must when you’re making deliveries. Commercial auto will cover claims related to vehicle accidents and can pay for the cost of repairs.
Hired & non-owned auto: This policy will cover accidents where you don’t own the vehicle but have hired one for your business purposes, or when your employees are using their own vehicles. This is important because personal auto policies will not cover an accident claim where the vehicle was being used for commercial purposes.
Inland Marine: This policy protects goods that are being delivered should they be damaged in an accident. This policy is usually best for larger trucking shipments over long distances.
Trying to handle an increase in order capacity can be challenging for any small business but with the right tools in place, your online delivery services will be thriving. Remember to stay focused on order priority, batch similar orders, listen to your drivers, and automate as much as you can. With these tips in mind, you’ll minimize the chance of errors to keep your customers satisfied and coming back for more.
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