This post is sponsored by Sweet Street.
Consumer demand for convenient dining options is driving the rise of delivery and takeout orders, but there are some menu categories -- such as desserts -- that customers often neglect when ordering for off-premise. Eateries can entice customers to add something sweet to their meal by offering product bundles and ensuring desserts are properly packaged for transport.
Nearly 75% of delivery orders are dinner orders, while less than 1% of delivery orders are for dessert only, according to research from IFMA’s Consumer Planning Program in partnership with Datassential. Online ordering is driven primarily by a desire for convenience, and the most effective way to drive online ordering is to spotlight how it can save time and make life easier, the research group said.
For busy consumers looking to put dinner on the table, baking a dessert is probably out of the question. Restaurants can give them the opportunity to still have a sweet ending to the meal by adding one to their takeout or delivery order.
“Operators should ensure they include and highlight dessert as part of a bundle,” said Kelly Sholl, national account director for Sweet Street. “Dessert can create a point of differentiation from their competitors and a good dessert will increase customer satisfaction.”
More than half of consumers said they were interested in meal bundles, according to IFMA and Datassential research, and 41% of consumers said they would be more likely to include a dessert if it was part of meal bundle.
Off-premise orders are popular with both single diners and those ordering for a group, so restaurants should take that into account with dessert offerings.
“Operators should offer various bundling options for their guests – single serve as well as large group catering options,” Sholl said.
In addition to suggesting dessert purchases through bundle options, operators can drive dessert purchases through visuals on a website or online ordering platform.
“Ensuring high quality photography is on the order website is crucial, and a pop-up dessert reminder can prompt customers to add dessert just before they check out,” said Sholl.
For pick-up orders, placing dessert displays at the point of sale and having staff ask customers if they’d like to add dessert to their order can also boost sales, Sholl said. Appealing displays geared toward incremental purchases can drive impulse buys, according to Consumer Planning Program research.
Another important consideration for off-premise dessert offerings is packaging. The proper package should keep a dessert at the desired temperature and ensure it looks more or less the same as it would if it were consumed at the restaurant. Convenient packaging is especially important for takeout, since consumers may be eating on the go. In fact, the majority of grab-and-go items are consumed immediately or soon after leaving the restaurant, according to IFMA and Datassential.
“Good packaging is critical [in] ensuring the product quality is as good as if it was consumed on premise,” said Sholl. “Sweet Street offers single serve and traditional dessert packaging solutions to ensure the experience is exceptional no matter where the product is consumed -- at home, in the workplace or on site.”
A large pizza chain that offers products from the Pennsylvania-based dessert company uses a small pizza box to package its Cookie-Pie Rave -- a giant sharable cookie cut into wedges. And for Sweet Street’s Brownie Bites product, operators can use a two-compartment container to offer the bite-sized brownies with a side of bourbon caramel or other dipping sauce.
“With the recent advances in packaging, just about any dessert can be delivery friendly -- the options are limitless,” Sholl said.
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