When moving to takeaway food, if only temporarily, make sure it will complement your business not detract from it. In light of the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing, we find new regulations meaning that restaurants and cafes are restricted to takeaway options – some of them rolling out takeaway for the first time. This means more single-use packaging, more rubbish sent to landfill. So how can we, as small businesses, 'get it right'?
If moving to takeaway-only, concentrate on your 'hero' meals and products. Fan faves and your specialties are likely to be the core of your business. You want the packaging for these to be great.
Takeaway packaging is a perfect opportunity to promote your brand. Make sure your food packaging represents this, whether by logo or by simple aesthetic – perhaps neutral or white for high-end bistros and brown or kraft packaging for niche, food-style operators.
Before choosing what bag you want, you need to think about the sizes of the meals you will be packing. Put hot and cold foods into separate bags and pack the largest and heaviest items on the bottom. This will ensure your dishes arrive at their destination in the same condition as they left your kitchen.
Unlike a sit-down meal, where customers might order an entrée, then a main, and you'll come back to take their order for desert and perhaps another drink, with takeaway they are ordering everything at once. Use this opportunity to increase the value of the order with special offers and promotions.
Customers don't want to dither about wondering whose dish is whose. By labelling your dishes, you create a seamless customer experience. You can write on the packaging or use generic labels with a simple tick system.
Cut down on conventional plastic and use planet friendly packaging (see what we did there?) to keep your food delivery service as sustainable as possible. Bagasse (sugarcane waste product) is a great packaging alternative for food delivery and is home compostable (and recyclable when clean). Environmental messages will likely resonate with your customers, making your brand a guilt-free choice for takeaway food.
While the packaging might be perfect in size and looks, this is not as important as making sure it lives up to expectations. Test it thoroughly. Put the food in and close it, leave it for half an hour, walk around the block, go for a drive if you want to. See how the food is afterwards. Your packaging has to be robust and insulating enough to make sure your food will arrive at the customer in tip-top condition.
Instead of buying a different type of packaging for each dish, keep things simple by picking a couple of lines for your core range and offer sides and desserts in standard-sized pots or containers.
No customer wants to get a meal only to find that the drink has leaked everywhere. Clip-on lids are relatively leak-proof, but they are not designed for transport. Use bottles instead – they are tamper-proof, secure, and completely leak-proof.
Inconsistencies in style and branding can reflect poorly on your business. Don't mix and match container colours and lids types. Create a solid 'family' of packaging instead and ensure they styles complement each other.
Ill-fitting packaging can result in poor food presentation or even food arriving cold. While keeping costs down is important, especially in light of the current situation, poor quality or cold food will lose you business in the long run. You can save costs by choosing packaging wisely – use the same size box for a number of meals or opt for compartment containers instead of separate items of packaging.
Planet Friendly Packaging acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we work. Our thoughts go out to everyone impacted by COVID-19 (which, let's be honest, is pretty much everyone). Stay safe.