In this article, we’re discussing exactly why packaging, and packing correctly, is so important for delivery performance. We caught up with Jay from Gig Hustle, who’s serving up a few game-changing helpful hints, tips and advice on exactly how to prepare those much-loved coffees, teas and soups for a spill-free delivery.

We’ve moved on a lot in the past few years and as such, delivery menus are increasingly sophisticated and attuned to consumer consumption patterns, pallets and lifestyle preferences.

If you’re a business that offers on-demand delivery, you’ll know the hard work and effort that goes into getting your menu right.

You’ve got to keep up with the demand in your local delivery area whilst serving up dishes that travel well once they’ve left your kitchen.


Restaurants and delivery kitchens are becoming more confident and experimental, offering a diverse range of dishes and drinks.

Because of the increase in demand and competition, businesses are finding feasible ways to serve up their customer’s favourite food and drink items throughout the day. More delivery customers are placing orders at breakfast and lunchtime and subsequently, menus have evolved to keep up with what the customer wants.

This delivery menu diversity has led to an increase in the number of liquid-based food and drink products popping up across delivery menus. We’re talking about soups, ice creams, porridge bowls, sauces, cappuccinos, Frappuccino’s, stews, curries and other spillable items. You name it, you can probably find it on your favourite delivery app.

It’s really rather marvellous.


different delivery foods


Customers no longer have to jump in the car or walk to a street cafe to buy freshly ground hot coffee.

Satisfying cravings for a scoop of their favourite ice cream or indulgent milkshake is only a tap away.

And, for those who like to keep it simple with a hot bowl of hearty homemade soup, they can enjoy the good stuff without having to leave the house.

It’s great.


But, and there is a but…

There’s no denying that fluid-based, liquid food and drinks do come with an occupational hazard.

One common problem associated with such items continues to pop up time and time again.

If you’ve served up or have ordered these kinds of delivery food items in the past, you might just know where we’re heading here… Yes, that’s right, we’re talking about spillages, specifically spillages that occur during delivery.

Now, that is by no means to say spillable items shouldn’t be served on delivery.

Some restaurants are under the impression that they should avoid these items completely as they simply figure they just aren’t suitable for delivery. But actually, that doesn’t have to be the case at all.

When there’s a will, there’s a way, and a lot of spillages can be avoided with a few really easy and inexpensive fixes.


coffee cups with lids


Before we delve into providing some quick solutions to the delivery spillage conundrum, we need to get down to exactly why it’s so important to avoid this common problem.


Getting it right: why food delivery packaging is so important

You see, it may not seem like a big deal to some, but spillages during delivery is a common issue that often results in long-term poor performance, with effects that go beyond a few customer complaints.

The role of good food packaging

Food delivery packaging is important for a number of reasons.

It’s there to showcase your products in their full glory. And, branded packaging is a great way to re-affirm your local presence and build brand awareness and engagement.

But one of its primary roles is to keep food fresh, contained, and for some products, hot, when moving from the kitchen to the customer’s door.


food packaging


Food and drink items need to be packaged in such a way that they reach the customer in the same quality and condition as they did when they left your venue.

It’s not always an easy task, especially when it comes to packaging those spillable items mentioned before. Nevertheless, it’s essential you get it right.

Even the littlest spill really can go a long way in causing havoc, and we’re not just talking about the mess in the bottom of the delivery bag.

To give you the full picture, we’re going to ask you to take a moment to jump into the shoes of the customer, the delivery person and then back into the shoes of the restaurant to see how this story unfolds.


First up, you’re the customer:

Picture this: It’s a Wednesday lunchtime, it’s been a busy morning WFH and your belly is calling out a reminder that it’s time to stop for a bite to eat. It’s been a good morning so you’ve decided today is the day for a hump day treat.

Out with the ham sandwich, and in with a freshly ground cup of coffee and something warm and comforting to eat on delivery.

Once you’ve browsed between Just Eat, Deliveroo and UberEats to find something that you know will hit the spot, all that’s left to do is place your order and wait for the goods to arrive!

Order confirmed and not too long to wait! Great stuff.

You get the golden notification that tells you your order is on-route, which of course means you spend the next 10 minutes peering through the window like a meerkat, attentively waiting for the delivery rider to make their way to your door.

Ping, they’re here.


delivery rider at door


As they open the bag, your senses are firing off all cylinders by the smell of your delivery goodness. It’s a great day.

The delivery person unzips the bag, and as they reach in to take out your order, out of nowhere, those dreaded words are said: ‘Oh no, I’m so sorry but there’s been a spillage’.

The delivery rider pulls the order out of the bag. You can see exactly what’s happened.

The coffee has spilt. Everywhere.

That hot club sandwich and the portion of triple cooked chips that you were so looking forward to devouring are now marinating in caramel latte.

This is not ideal.

A rush of utter disappointment takes over. You’re left with half a cup of coffee and wondering why you didn’t just opt for a trusty cup of instant and whipped out the neglected, dust-gathering toastie maker sitting at the back of the cupboard to make a DIY club sandwich.

The delivery rider apologises profusely.

You know it’s not their fault, although part of you is wondering if they did a few laps around the local skate park on-route.

But it doesn’t take long for you to realise that, actually, it’s not the delivery rider who’s to blame here.

The coffee spillage is simply a result of poor packaging from the restaurant.


So, what happens next?

Well, let’s jump into the seat of the delivery rider for a second.


delivery rider on bike


You’ve just attempted to deliver this order to the customer. You see the look of utter disappointment on their face as you pull out the soggy chips and toasted sandwich.

It’s awkward.

You apologise but can’t help but feel they think you’re partially responsible for this mishap. You know it’s not your fault, but this is not a comfortable experience.

You politely ask the customer to request a refund via the delivery platform before apologising for one last time and heading for the next delivery.

As you pick the bag up to leave, you’re promptly reminded by the mess in the bottom of your delivery rucksack. Caramel latte, everywhere.

Great. There’s no way you can run another delivery with your bag in that state. It’s going to need cleaning before you can take another order.

First step: you’ve got to find somewhere that will clean your delivery bag.

You start thinking of the friendly venues that you’ve met along the way, who you know will help you out on this one.

You get there, you get your bag cleaned out but you’ve racked up a fair bit of non-paid time that could have been fulfilled with another order.

You only get paid for the deliveries that you successfully collect and deliver so this is frustrating.

That time is going to need to be made up for, so it’s a later finish than expected for you today.

With that, you make a mental note to decline future deliveries from the restaurant you’ve just picked up from to avoid this awkward, time-wasting situation again.


Where does it go from here?

Now, step back into the shoes of the restaurant that cooked, prepared and packaged the order.

The customer is pretty annoyed. They get a notification to rate their experience of your restaurant.

It’s not going to be good. 1 star, and a poor review.

This now appears on the platform. All of your potential customers can see it, and your platform rating drops. This is bad news.


Ratings and reviews are important

But why?

The reviews and ratings on these platforms are an essential KPI that directly correlate to delivery restaurant performance and, subsequently, revenue. They come from the honest feedback of customers. Potential customers know this.

Good reviews equate to happy, loyal customers, recommendations, great word of mouth and better, positive exposure on delivery apps.


app reveiws


Bad reviews on the other hand equate to unhappy customers.

The more negative reviews that appear, the lower the restaurant’s rating and the worse the platform exposure.

Customers look at the star rating. Fewer stars generally mean fewer orders.

So, at this point, in the shoes of the restaurant, not only has your rating dropped, but you’ve also had to refund for the inedible order.

Is that customer going to order from you in the future? Likely not. Are they going to tell their friends and family about their hump day lunchtime ordeal? Quite possibly.

Your restaurant has lost money in the short term on the refund, but you’ve also lost a customer and other customers who may read their reviews or hear about their experience with your delivery service.

If spills keep occurring, and this cycle becomes more frequent, it can be really damaging to your business’ reputation and subsequent delivery performance.


Loss of trust from delivery riders

Customers are important here, but as is your reputation amongst the local delivery riders and drivers.

barista had coffee to customer


These people have a choice of which venues they accept orders from.

They put a certain level of trust in the restaurant to ensure that a delivery will run smoothly. That means no leaks and no delays.

If they know that they’ve had a poor experience of delivering orders from a particular restaurant, they are unlikely to accept orders from that restaurant in the future.

If these sorts of situations continue to happen, quite quickly, the restaurant’s pool of delivery people willing to accept their orders decreases and it becomes harder to get orders delivered to customers on time and on-demand.

This is why building good relationships with delivery riders and drivers is really important.

As a restaurant, one way you can do this is by making sure that you package food correctly.

If you’re offering spillable items on your delivery menu, consider how these items are going to travel to your customers.

When you step back and look from all three angles, it’s clear to see why getting the packaging right really matters.


How to package spillable food for delivery

We know why packaging spillable delivery food is so important, but let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of exactly how you prevent those leaks and spills from happening in the first place.

FODD caught up with Jay from Gig Hustle. As a delivery rider, he’s experienced spillage problems first hand but has also seen the genius ways that restaurants are adapting their packaging to avoid the spills and chills.


Tips for packing drinks for delivery

A great place to start – why? Because more restaurants are putting hot drinks, milkshakes, cocktails and all sorts of weird and wonderful fresh fruit juices and smoothies on their delivery menus. However, these are some of the biggest culprits for spillages.


delivery packaging with cling film


Here are a few ways you can avoid drink spillages:

Double lidding

On hot drinks and many cold drinks with a straw lid, double lidding is a really inexpensive and effective way to prevent the liquid from spilling in transit. It is as simple as using two lids on top of each other.

Cling film

Still need a bit more reinforcement? Wrap the lid and part of the cup in cling film. A little bit of cling film really does go a long way in preventing leaks and complaints.

Don’t fill to the top

You need to remember that the liquids inside the cups will move and slosh around. Rather than filling the drink to the top, try to leave some wiggle room.

Use the next cup size up

You can also try using the next cup size up – for example using a large cup for a medium-size portion. It’s a great way to ensure that your customer still gets the same volume for what they paid for, minus the leaks.


delivery takeaway cups


What about soups and other liquid foods?

Cling film

The same thing goes. There’s nothing wrong with wrapping a layer of cling film around a container to prevent leaks

Check the lids

If you’ve put a lid on something, make sure it’s closed properly and tightly sealed.

check lids are securely in place


Easy delivery packaging tips to remember

Other measures you can take to avoid leaks and spills on delivery:

Separate food and drink items

For orders containing both food and drink, such as the one in our story above, keep the spillable items packaged separately from the food items.

Quite often, restaurants put them in the same bag.

By keeping them separate, the delivery rider or driver can pack them in their bags separately, so if the liquid does spill, there’s less risk of it spoiling other order items.

Include packaging advice and processes in staff training

A big part of avoiding these issues comes from ensuring that restaurant staff are aware of how to package items, using the methods described above. Bring everyone back on the same page, explaining how in the long-term avoiding spillages really is important for the business.

Extra care for delivery riders

It’s also important to recognise the difference between drivers and riders. For those who are travelling on a pushbike or motorbike, the journey is likely to be a little bumpier compared to those travelling by car.

Whilst they aren’t going to stop off at the local skate ramps on-route, naturally, spillage is more likely to occur on these journeys. That’s not to say riders can’t deliver spillable items. As long as these items are packaged with care, there’s no reason they can’t reach the customer spillage-free.

It may sound obvious, but you can do a simple check. If they arrive with a helmet, they’ve arrived on a bike. And if you’re not sure, just ask.


delivery rider on bike


Up your packaging game

And finally, sometimes these issues can be prevented by opting for packaging that is more suited to your products.

If you’re finding that certain items just aren’t travelling well or your existing packaging is letting you down, you might need to upgrade your packaging or change the type of packaging used.

Sortd helps food delivery businesses to save time and money on product resourcing, purchasing and supplier management. They are the people to talk to if you want a helping hand to source better packaging, at great prices, without having to spend time researching and finding the right supplier.


Got some helpful packaging tips and advice you’d like to share with the network?

We’d love to hear from you. Contact us here

Last Updated: January 24th, 2022 / Categories: Delivery, Inspiration, Packaging /