Curbside Pick-Up and Contactless Delivery: Doing it Right



During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have adopted new ways to learn, work, entertain themselves, obtain essentials and non-essentials, connect with others, and maintain wellness while at home.

Consumers have expanded their use of restaurant and grocery delivery as new ways to obtain food safely with minimal in-person contact. Similarly, curbside pickup has grown in popularity: restaurant curbside pickup has attracted new users and trial of store curbside pickup has increased across North America.

Industry experts have long predicted technology significantly changing the restaurant landscape, even before the pandemic’s upheaval. According to a 2018 William Blair analyst report:  

  • Restaurants are digitizing. More than $200B in restaurant sales will come through digital channels by 2022.
  • Off-premise sales are the fastest (by some estimates, only) growing segment of restaurant industry revenues. Combined, pickup and delivery are expected to eclipse $400B in the US by 2022 with third party delivery representing more than 10% of the total and growing in excess of 40% year-over-year.  
  • Third-party food ordering platforms will triple by 2022 to more than $43 billion, up from a 2018 estimate of $13 billion.

Looking ahead to the “next normal,” experts are predicting that consumers may be hesitant to return to some of the activities that were part of their daily life before the start of the pandemic and that some behaviors may be permanently changed.  Most consumers expect to shop less frequently in physical stores for items other than grocery, with a shift to more spending made through apps on consumer’s smartphones. This means it is more important than ever for businesses to establish and implement an effective mobile ordering and delivery strategy. 


Convenience is the name of the game when it comes to providing your customers with an effective and efficient pickup experience. Here are six tips to keep in mind to improve ordering and curbside pickup for your business:

  1. Make pre-order available in many different channels so that it is easy for customers to find your business online and in apps (see below for why this is so important).
  2. Simplifying your menu. A limited menu that focuses on the most popular items allows customers to quickly make a decision and order. It’s also easier and faster to produce with a limited staff so orders can be executed quickly without mistakes.
  3. Train and structure your staff – it is important that staff know how to accept an order. You will want to designate staff to input orders, collect/make and run orders, and manage the entire system. Some digital ordering systems are more intuitively designed and easy to understand than others.
  4. Proper signage – there is nothing worse for ruining the customer experience than confusing and frustrating your customers with improper signage. Make sure you have signage displaying exactly where customers should go to pick-up their order and also signage for physical distance measures in case your customer has to wait for their order to be prepared.
  5. Send clear visible clues that sanitization and distancing is top-of-mind, such as gloves, masks, floor stickers, parking cones to maintain distance while standing in line, and hand sanitizer available for customer usage. Consumers don’t see these as an inconvenience, but as a thoughtful and appreciated gesture.
  6. Appropriate packaging – whether it is a food container or the bags it’s being delivered/picked up in, pick something that is both effective, appropriate, and branded properly. Extra points if it is reusable. 


The mobile-first era is here. We are long past the tipping point where the number of smartphone users today is greater than the number of desktop users. More and more time is being spent by consumers using apps on their smartphones: apps account for over 80% of mobile time.

Studies show that users prefer mobile apps more than mobile websites. One of the reasons for this is that smartphone apps offer better personalization: with smartphone apps you can better tailor communication to users based on their interests, location, usage behavior, and more. Smartphone apps have the advantage of making better use of features in a smartphone like hassle free notifications, offline workability, camera, contact list, GPS, bluetooth, accelerometer, and phone calls.

If you have a large budget you may consider investing the time and money to make order and delivery available on your website, however, it is clear that the trend and the future is towards more and more purchases being made through apps. While both channels have their own pros and cons, smartphone apps, especially, can help you get higher conversions because of the greater personalization and operational efficiency, along with multiple other exclusive features. 


One successful strategy that many restaurants have taken since the pandemic is they have switched from having one exclusive relationship with an ordering and delivery partner to listing on multiple different platforms.

When it comes to deciding which or how many delivery platforms to work with, it’s really a case of the more platforms, the better. Being on multiple platforms covers you across different markets, lets you reach more customers and different niches.

Being active on multiple platforms will help you reach niche clients faster. And if you sell different types of foods or products, you can think about splitting them up into different brands. That way when someone is looking for a specific food they can find you more easily. 

Segmenting also helps you target the various demographics that might favour different platforms, for example millennial urban professionals or Gen Z university students might prefer a different platform than a Generation X office worker.  For example, research has shown that Gen Z consumers want rewards when they make a purchase – so you might want to consider an ordering platform with rewards to better appeal to that demographic.


Another development from the COVID-19 pandemic is that there has been a major backlash towards the fees that some of the big food delivery apps charge.  Many restaurants have complained of the high commissions the big food delivery apps charge and how they have exploited the restaurant industry. The big food delivery apps take up to a 30% cut from restaurants that already operate on razor-thin margins. Some list restaurants on their services without asking permission, hijacking restaurants’ dialogs with customers and effectively forcing them to sign up.

They have also drawn criticism for their treatment of gig workers, and for nickeling and diming customers with complex and opaque fee structures that hiked prices by almost 100% in some cases.

While some of the big food delivery apps have responded to criticism by deferring their fees during the COVID-19 pandemic, their business practices are not sustainable for restaurants, gig workers, and customers in the long term. This is evident from Foodora’s recent exit from Canada and declaration of bankruptcy and also mandates from cities like San Francisco and Seattle that food delivery apps must lower their commissions. 


Another notable trend since the pandemic started has been restaurants turning to their servers to do their own delivery.

At Perk Hero, we have been partnering with the restaurant industry for many years, and we heard from our restaurant partners that they wanted a tool on par with the big food delivery apps to receive on-demand delivery orders and provide their own delivery services to their customers – and we are now empowering merchants to do just that.  

Perk Hero offers a low cost alternative to the high commission big food delivery apps and aims to change the current landscape by giving restaurants the ability to offer their own delivery in their desired surrounding area while rewarding their customers for their patronage and engagement. Our new self-delivery management function will help restaurants to use their own workers for zero-contact delivery duties. Customers get fast, mobile-first food delivery ordering with low fees. Restaurants get takeout orders that they sorely need, with low order handling fees, and a fast delivery system that they control. Servers can remain employed to help with delivery, aligning with the government’s subsidy programs to help industry keep people working.

We’ve also designed our fees to be more sustainable for local businesses. We had originally set our restaurant order fees at 9% — less than a third of some mobile delivery apps’ fees. When COVID-19 hit the food industry, we dropped that to 5% to help restaurants weather the economic effects of the health crisis. Our fees are open and transparent and inclusive of credit card processing.

Perk Hero differentiates on more than just price by offering a better digital customer experience. Every time a customer orders through the Perk Hero app they earn “cash back” in the form of coins and experience points towards “leveling up” to increase their reward earning power. At the same time, merchants get real-time transactional data and access to tools to drive customer loyalty and increase revenue.


The trend towards mobile ordering, curbside pick-up and delivery is being seen across more than just the restaurant industry. 

Large and small businesses alike have had to adopt these measures in order to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Brick-and-mortar businesses are suffering a lot, as many had to close outright or switch to delivery or takeout only. 

The trend towards pre-order and delivery is not going away anytime soon. If there ever was a time for businesses to pivot and create a customer continuity plan that includes strengthened digital channels of customer communication, it’s now.  In addition to restaurants, Perk Hero is a platform that lists many other types of businesses – if you are a retailer, florist, grocery store or any business that sells physical products, you can list your products for pre-order and delivery on Perk Hero.


Perk Hero is available for free download on the Apple App and Google Play stores:

By downloading Perk Hero, Merchants can quickly and easily convert a smartphone or tablet into a device that can accept safe and contactless mobile orders and payments.

After you’ve downloaded the app, just follow the instructions outlined at this link to get setup: https://perkhero.com/help-center-merchants/#becomemerchant

Perk Hero’s friendly Customer Support team, based in Canada, are available to assist our merchants and users with any questions.


At Perk Hero, supporting local business is in our DNA and at the core of what we do. All of the software and tools we have built have been designed with supporting small businesses in mind and providing them with the tools to compete with bigger competitors. We believe that it is important for local businesses to adopt these new digital technologies to provide customers with the type of customer experience that they expect and are now becoming accustomed to.  

We have built the tools to make it very easy for entrepreneurs to quickly start accepting mobile orders: entrepreneurs do not need expensive equipment and no payment terminals. All that’s needed is a smartphone, which almost everyone has today.


Perk Hero offers a lot more than just pre-order and delivery – our app is an all-in-one mobile ordering, contact free payment, and  digital loyalty platform. 

By using our app you will also gain access to an unrivaled comprehensive suite of features including contact-free payments at-the-table and at-the-counter and one of the most powerful digital loyalty programs that exists on the market. Further, you will also have access to analytics and reporting tools that you can use to track your revenue growth and mobile transactions.


Call 1-855-661-3722 or email [email protected] and our team will be happy to help you with setting up your business to accept pre-order and delivery in as quickly as 24 hours!