Believe it or not, the way your food looks when customers open up their take out boxes matters much more than you may think. Customers have plenty of options to choose from when browsing through food delivery platforms, and if your restaurant ends up being their choice then they’ll expect to see the quality and care of your foodservice establishment reflected in their meals.

Designing the perfect food-filled plate has been an essential component of cooking at restaurants. Customers are always looking to show off their eye-catching meals on social media platforms, which means great exposure for your business. As the demand for delivery orders continues to rise, it's important not to overlook the culinary art of food presentation in to-go orders. Here are 5 reasons why food presentation remains an essential component of take out orders.

1. Communicates Restaurant Quality

Customers placing orders via food delivery apps might have no idea what your restaurant looks like inside, or what the food looks like when ordered in person. Their first impression of your foodservice establishment relies heavily on what their meal looks like when it gets to their front door. Set the precedence for the quality of your restaurant by taking extra care in the plating and overall presentation of take out orders.

Customers who receive a meal that looks great will generate an opinion on how great they think your restaurant is, even before sitting down and enjoying their meals. Plus, it’s an excellent way to stand out against your competition. Your competitors might not even be taking into account how much the food presentation in their delivery orders matter, which gives your business an advantage in being a consumer’s first choice when ordering digitally. Pay special attention to the style of take out containers you use as well as how you package individual components of your orders, like sauces or additional toppings.

2. Boosts Guest Perception

The way your food looks matters most to customers, especially new ones. When someone orders delivery from your foodservice establishment, they expect to receive the same kind of quality they normally would get when dining in at your restaurant or cafe. Food presentation plays into the visual aspect of food, which for most customers indicates how good their meal will taste or what they want to eat. If a meal appears messily put together or arrives upside down at your customers’ doorstep, you might receive a negative review and decrease in orders no matter how good your food might actually taste.

First impressions are key, so ensure that your employees are carefully packaging dishes and securing components of your meal that might spill over or cause messes during delivery into individual containers. This way, your food remains intact and looking its best for guests to enjoy.

3. Retains Your Customer Base

The dedicated following of customers at your brick-and-mortar establishment already love coming in to enjoy their favorite meals, snacks, or beverages in person. In order for loyal customers to also enjoy placing orders for take out or delivery, it’s imperative that they feel their meals have the same quality as the meals that they enjoy when dining at your restaurant. As the shift to delivery orders begins to rise, you might have seen a dip in the number of guests coming into your foodservice establishment and a huge surge in take out requests.

Your customer base wants to continue to enjoy their favorite foods in the comfort of their own homes and catering to this shift in consumer perception could mean a big increase in profits. By taking extra care in your food delivery presentation, your customers will be more inclined to keep ordering take out from your restaurant. When food is presented beautifully, customers know they’re receiving the same kind of quality and care that keeps them coming back to your establishment.

4. Influences Consumer Decisions

As mentioned, your customers have a lot to consider as they scroll through restaurants and cafes on food delivery apps. From prices to cuisine, there are several buying points consumers consider before choosing where to order from. However, the visual aspect of your restaurant’s menu might just be the most essential. If your digital storefront is filled with pictures of your foods that are enticing, alluring, and mouthwatering, consumers will be more inclined to place an order.

If you find that your delivery orders aren’t doing as well as they should be, it might be time to update the look of your restaurant on food delivery apps. Take the time to make sure your storefront on food delivery platforms looks as good as the food your restaurant serves for customers dining in. Highlight underrated menu options, your most popular dishes, or trendy foods. And as always, your food must match the quality you are advertising online. Emphasizing food presentation both physically and virtually will create an increase in profit and drive traffic to your foodservice establishment, something your business can greatly benefit from.

5. Encourages Creativity Among Employees

It’s no secret that chefs take pride in the recipes they develop, the food they make, the way their dishes are arranged, and how much guests enjoy their hard work. While it's always emphasized to beautifully display food for customers dining at your restaurant, it's also important to do the same for delivery orders. Great food presentation should never be limited to the tableware found at your foodservice establishment.

Encourage chefs to come up with exciting and innovative ways to plate take out orders. Allow your employees to create plating arrangements that take into account the size and shape of your take out containers, and give them the freedom to get inspired with garnishes and sauces. Chefs who enjoy plating will appreciate the time spent coming up with new ways to display and present their beautifully-crafted dishes, and so will your customers when they receive a meal that is both delicious and aesthetically pleasing.