Food delivery popular but wrong orders mar experience

A recent study found that food delivery may be gaining popularity in Singapore. However, a substantial number of customers had problems with their orders, the most common being missing items and incorrect orders.

Your meal is waiting for you at your door step. Problem is, it is not what you have ordered – yet again.

An online survey conducted in February led by NUS Business Visiting Professor Sherri Kimes in collaboration with the Singapore Productivity Centre (SGPC) found that food delivery may be gaining popularity in Singapore, with 94 per cent of the 500 respondents citing convenience as the most important reason. However, 40 per cent of the customers had problems with their orders, the most common being missing items and incorrect orders – and they tended to blame the restaurant rather than the delivery service provider (DSP).

More than half of the respondents ordered food delivery at least once a week. They were even willing to pay an additional 15 per cent delivery fee. Every one in five respondents used subscription services citing free delivery as the most important reason, particularly for younger respondents. Placing orders through mobile phones proved to be popular -- with 86 per cent of the customers ordering from restaurants they found on food delivery apps.

Prof Kimes, who is also Emeritus Professor at Cornell University said, “I found the pricing results to be particularly interesting. The fact that respondents were fine with delivery prices being higher than takeaway prices and that they were fairly open to delivery fees suggests that restaurant operators might have some leeway in trying to recover the commissions associated with the delivery service providers.”

Said Mr Michael Tan, SGPC Chief Executive Officer, “This study is highly relevant to F&B operators as it provides insights on consumer behaviour and sentiments towards food delivery services. This can help operators to adapt and adjust their delivery operations to ensure both dine-in and delivery experiences are favourable for their customers. In addition, the study also revealed the consumers’ willingness to pay for food delivery. This would help F&B operators work on pricing strategies and encourage more sales.”


The researchers hope the following recommendations would help restaurants and DSPs improve productivity and services:

  • Restaurants should have mobile-friendly menus while DSPs should use a convenient interface and provide fast delivery.
  • Restaurants should make sure that they are listed on DSPs, and DSPs should have as many restaurants on board as possible.
  • Restaurants should double check all orders.
  • While restaurants need not worry about charging higher prices on DSPs, they need to frame their pricing as a discount. For example, restaurants can show that their takeaway pricing is 15 per cent cheaper than delivery pricing, instead of the other way around.    

Prof Kimes will be writing a paper based on the survey findings. She also plans to work with SGPC on a new survey about food delivery in Singapore – this time from the F&B operators’ perspectives.

 “My past study on restaurant self-service technologies in the United States showed that customers and restaurant managers can view these technologies rather differently. Hence it would be interesting to see if there is a similar disconnect on food delivery. We hope to use the results from both surveys to help F&B operators better understand how best to position themselves,” she said.

See press release.


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