Chinese food has long been a favorite to order in the U.S. Annually, rankings are published about the popularity of ordering in Chinese food vs. pizza or a hamburger. According to popular published research, Chinese food takes up 15% of food orders- still higher than Sushi at 7.5% or Pizza at 12.5%.

That’s a lot of Kung Pao chicken and chow mein!

As eaters and orderers of Chinese food, we are always concerned with the delivery time. The minute after we place our order, we are famished! On the one hand, we want everything to be prepared freshly for us and on the other we want it delivered as fast as possible.

However, while we’re sitting at home waiting for the doorbell to ring, Chinese food restaurants are working hard behind the scenes on processes and methods put into place in order to make sure our order gets delivered quickly and efficiently. Still, some orders take what seems like forever, which left us wondering: how can Chinese food restaurants make delivery time more reliable and less than 30 minutes?

To find out we conducted an in-depth analysis of the Chinese food ordering process based on data from Kaggle. What did the data show? There are several areas that need to be addressed. While restaurants have made huge advancements in making the ordering process smart and have created smart packing solutions and different types of delivery vehicles and drivers, there is still room for improvement in other areas.

But how does a manager optimize and prioritize based on tens of orders being placed at the same time? Let’s start at the end of the process…

Optimizing the delivery process

Some restaurants limit the radius of their delivery area in order to bypass issues of customers that are too far away and traffic issues that can delay delivery. That is not a simple decision, but it is often a good solution.

More often, managers prepare tons of delivery people in cars, scooters, or bikes in order to be ready for rush-hour ordering (lunch or dinner) so that as soon as the food is ready, a driver is prepared to get out there and deliver the food. They also help the drivers with preparing the delivery routes in an optimal way and equipping them with Google Maps or Waze.

Still, there are delays…

Creating quick and simple ordering

Now, let’s look at the beginning of the process.

Most restaurant managers have implemented an online order system like GrubHub and set up menus in a way that orders are just a few clicks away – simple and smart.

Online ordering systems streamline the ordering process for the consumer and for the restaurant. Win, win. No problems here!

So where are the problems?

The middle of the process

Here’s the most complex process at the heart of our food. Preparing the food – the processes in the kitchen.

Our analysis found that we need to seriously optimize the way kitchens function in Chinese restaurants.

Even if consumers are only able to order cashew chicken with fried rice and it’s made to perfection in the optimal time, and then the best delivery person is ready with their scooter to bring it to the customer, there are still factors that can make it late.

For example, what if this order comes in at rush hour with many other orders at the same time, or even worse, with many other LARGE orders at the same time? The solution to ensuring it arrives on time is not in the ordering or the delivery processes.

We found that long delivery times are dependent on the number of LARGE orders being placed at the same time – it makes sense because LARGE orders are probably harder to complete in the kitchen and more cooks are needed to prepare them. Even if the restaurant has many drivers waiting to deliver the order, and they know all the shortcuts to get to the customer’s home, they can’t deliver anything if there aren’t enough cooks to make the food.

When it comes to Chinese food there’s never too many cooks in the kitchen!

There are more insights to be had! Our analysis report and interactive dashboard show the process of analysis and the most important findings. Feel free to zoom in and analyze for yourself.

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