It Costs More To Order Takeout Online—Here’s Why


You place an online order for delivery from your favorite Chinese restaurant and settle in to watch Netflix. Queue the awkward moment when your “dinner for one” arrives, packaged with enough serving utensils for, oh, you know, four people. Touché, you realize, as you start unloading your carryout feast of egg rolls, egg drop soup, lo mein and chow mein.

But your order, had you phoned it in or ordered it in person, might have looked a lot different. And, by different, we mean healthier and without complicated instructions like “scallions on the side, seven packets of soy sauce, no broken fortune cookies …”

Researchers at Duke University have found that people place less healthy and more complicated orders online than they do when interacting with a clerk. When we’re online, there ain’t no shame in ordering that extra side of ranch or triple the bacon. (You know it’s true!).

“Online, you’re not making anyone wait while you place your special order,” says Professor Ryan McDevitt, one of the authors of the Duke study. “No one’s judging you.”

Flickr | saeru

To reach this conclusion, researchers studied more than 160,000 orders placed by 56,000 customers at a North Carolina pizza chain for a period of three-and-a-half years. Online orders included 14 percent more special instructions and contained an average of about 100 calories more than phone orders, according to their findings.

Researchers from Duke University, the University of Toronto and the National University of Singapore partnered for the study that was completed in 2015 and published in Management Science.

The research team found similar results in a study examining purchases at liquor stores in Sweden. They examined more than a million transactions at 14 stores from 1988 to 1996. The stores installed automated purchase stations between 1991 and 1995. Purchases of the products that were hardest to pronounce increased by 8.4 percent when the store change to self-service. To be fair, figuring out how to pronounce curacao and fernet can be tough!

The takeout takeaway? Phone in your order if you’re looking to save yourself some calories and money. And, pass the bar, so to speak, by learning how to pronounce these commonly mispronounced liquors so you can order them with confidence.

[h/t: Consumerist]

About the Author
Brittany Anas

Brittany has contributed to publications including Men's Journal, Forbes, Women's Health, American Way, TripSavvy, Eat This, Not That!, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life Magazine, 5280, Livability, The Denver Post, Simplemost, USA Today Travel Tips, Make it Better, AAA publications, Reader's Digest, Discover Life and more. More.