Takeout Packaging: the Hidden Secret to Gaining and Retaining Customers

We’ve all been there: you just finished a long day at work, excited to binge watch your new favourite Netflix series and chow down on some food from your favourite restaurant. You graciously thank your delivery driver, sit down with your well-earned meal, and… it’s cold.

Just your luck.

You reheat it, because you won’t let the food go to waste, but it’s just not the same.

You’re disappointed.

Maybe not intentionally, but you’ve now subconsciously associated that disheartened feeling with that restaurant. And maybe, the next time you’re in the market for some takeout, you’ll think twice about ordering from them again.

The fact of the matter is that British Columbians are continuing to order food delivery in high numbers, and 84% of customers agree or strongly agree that food packaging is an important consideration when deciding between restaurants.

So we know that good packaging is crucial. But from a restaurant’s point of view, what can you do to ensure customers are getting your food as intended?

Start with following our list of takeout packaging Do’s and Don’ts:

Do:

  • Use eco-friendly packaging

Growing awareness of environmental issues places increased pressure on restaurants to go the eco-friendly route. It’s no longer just about your food — customers want to feel good about ordering from your restaurant — and for many, that means feeling good about their environmental impact.

  • Minimalistic packaging

Minimalism is everywhere. Not only is it cost-effective, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly, but minimalistic packaging removes the background noise from your delivery process.

Minimalistic packaging allows your food speak for itself, and frees up capital to use on other aspects of takeout dining that your customers will really appreciate.

  • Personalized packaging

In today’s economic climate, it is more important than ever to show your customers some love. Use your company’s brand to personalize your packaging in a way that resonates with your customers — differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Create a personal connection with each of your customers to make them feel like a regular

Bonus: packaging shared on social media is very low-cost marketing — make it Insta-worthy!

  • Test your methods

Nothing is worse than investing in a new type of to-go packaging to find that it leaks when placed sideways, or that the lid pops open with the slightest nudge. Test, test, test, and test again. Make sure your products are working for you, not against you.

Don’t:

  • Use unsuitable packaging

Takeout packaging is far from one-size-fits-all. When choosing which materials to package your products in, it’s important to keep in mind the size, consistency, heat, grease content, and travel-ability of your foods. Each material has its own pros and cons, but this chart from Tundra Restaurant Supply is a great graphic to help you decide which material is best.

  • Mix and match

When customers order multiple items from your restaurant, or on multiple occasions, they should know what to expect in terms of how their food will arrive. After all, your takeout packaging is an extension of your company brand, and mismatched styles of takeout packaging can reflect poorly on your company image. Instead, opt for a ‘family’ of takeout packages that complement each other in style and functionality.

  • Skip on bag quality

We hate to admit it, but we all judge books by their cover. And we all judge takeout by the bag it arrives in. As the first thing your customers see when receiving your product, you want the bag you use to reflect your company brand and the value you deliver to your customers.

Your bag choice also influences the temperature and travel-ability of your product. Shy away from plastic bags, which are flimsy and provide little insulation, and instead opt for paper or cloth bags.

  • Hot foods hot, cold foods cold

We’ve all experienced the cold-takeout problem, but the issue of cold foods heating up unintentionally is not only equally as unpleasant, but is also a FoodSafe concern. No one likes melted ice cream or lukewarm sushi!

To minimize this risk, always remember to package your hot foods as separately as possible from cold foods — ideally in separate bags — but at a minimum with cold foods below hot foods in the takeout bag (heat rises!)

Take-Home Message: With less opportunities to interact with your customers through takeout and delivery, use your takeout packaging as an area to gain a competitive edge against your competitors. Your takeout packaging should be personalized, convenient, reflect your brand image, and above all, deliver your food the way it was meant to be delivered.

The key: 3 out of 4 of respondents say that if a restaurant isn’t available on a third-party delivery platform that they would get food from somewhere else. Don’t let that deter your customers. Join the DineEasy network here.

Additional Resources: Below are links to some great Canadian takeout packaging companies. Here you can find sustainable, durable, and appropriate packaging options for all of your takeout needs.

Hubert Canada

Canada Brown

Good Start Packaging

Green Munch

Let’s Go Green

A technology-first approach to seamless last-mile delivery logistics.