A whopper of a business opportunity: Burger King launches home delivery service
Sunday 11 November 2012
While jumping in the car to pick up a burger isn't the most strenuous of outings, Burger King appears to think differently. The company has been quietly rolling out a delivery service across the US this year. The most recent state to benefit is Florida, which began its pilot programme at earlier this month.
In previous years, pizza has been the main fast food considered deliverable outside city centres in the US; the thought of soggy fries or a burger with less-than-crisp lettuce apparently being unbearable to many Whopper connoisseurs.
Burger King, however, claims to now be able to deliver its standard takeaway food in a decent condition by using "proprietary thermal packaging technology" – essentially glorified thermal boxes with flaps to separate different parts of a burger.
But is the journey from house to restaurant really so taxing? Since the introduction of the drive-through, it's no longer necessary to even leave your vehicle. But the expansion of the US Burger King delivery project suggests that customers do want their burgers delivered to their doors – the company is already delivering from more than 45 stores, with 30 planning to begin the service soon.
This could be an attempt to claw back the number-two position in the US burger chain from Wendy's. Some have described the move as the company's "last hope" after taking a huge hit on its most recent quarterly profits, which were down by 83 per cent.
Steve Gotham from food industry consultants Allegra Strategies has warned against such a stark view. "'Last hope' is a being rather sensationalist," he says. "Burgers remain a hugely important food category and there are other levers that the business can still better exploit – not least enhanced product quality, better customer service and a stronger in-store experience."
Burger King has not yet announced any plans to extend such a service to its UK stores, but is it just a matter of time? And will the other chains follow them in the States? (Market leader McDonald's dipped a toe in the water delivering to businesses from two outlets in New York.)
Despite the UK's love of fast food, we are also in the grip of rising concern about obesity. And it could be this, rather than any concerns about lettuce crispness or soggy buns, that limits the introduction of any straight-to-your-door burger-and-fries service.
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