Beverages: An Untapped Delivery Opportunity

Seventy percent to 80% of on-premises restaurant transactions include a beverage in the order, but what about delivery?

According to research from The Coca-Cola Co., beverages only represent a small fraction of third-party delivery orders. “When it comes to beverages and delivery, restaurants are facing a largely untapped opportunity,” said Melissa Fahs, VP of foodservice digital commerce at Coca-Cola North America. Beverages are also a critical profit engine for restaurants that can help offset delivery commission fees.

In 2018, Coca-Cola Co. set out to uncover strategies that could drive beverage sales in the delivery space. It conducted a series of experiments over about eight months to increase the frequency with which beverages are included in delivery orders and to raise check averages.

“This is an industry-wide challenge,” says Kristin Bitter, the company’s VP, industry affairs. “Everybody wins if we can increase beverage orders in the delivery space.”

After gathering and analyzing results, the company developed strategies to help restaurants optimize the third-party delivery occasion in a format it calls “ABCDE,” which stands for assortment, bundle, capture the upsell, data and execute marketing.

Featuring the right assortment and pairing each entree with a beverage make it easier for customers to order a drink, instead of having to click through the drinks section. Additionally, partnering with the third-party delivery provider to mine ordering data for insights, such as which items are most popular at what times, is key.

The biggest challenge restaurant companies will face in implementing these strategies is figuring out what real-estate each delivery platform has to offer and the technical challenges of meeting different platform architectures, according to Billy Koehler, digital director at Coca-Cola.

“These providers are technology companies,” he said. “Although most don’t come from the restaurant industry, they are eager to learn and adapt.”