Convenience stores should utilise apps to implement a click-and-collect food-to-go service in response to the huge growth in home delivery, a leading foodservice expert has advised.

The advice came from Cyril Lavenant, foodservice director UK at the NPD Group, which has identified that foodservice home delivery in Britain is growing 10 times faster than the eating-out market.

It said the delivery channel in the out-of-home foodservice was worth £3.6bn by the end of last year – up 6% on 2015 – and up 50% in value terms since 2008.

Total visits to “eat out” increased just 1% year-on-year to 11.3 billion, but the delivery sector jumped nearly 10% to 599 million visits in 2016.

More than 80% of visits is through the fast-food quick service restaurant channel, but pubs are now part of the picture, too, as they begin to partner “aggregator” brands such as Deliveroo, Just Eat, Hungry House and UberEATS, said NPD.

Lavenant thinks home delivery foodservice could be problematical for convenience stores because of “low-ticket” items.

A “crucial” first step, however, would be to get their technology right and introduce click and collect for the food-to-go market.

“Convenience stores are about lunch and snacking which are low ticket. When you have delivery you have to have minimum spend, or you pay extra if it’s a third party delivering,” said Lavenant

“Probably the first step for convenience stores is to upgrade their game in terms of technology, but just in terms of apps.

“Convenience stores have to be quick and seamless for a consumer who has less and less time so if they could start doing click and collect through an app, to me that would be an amazing first step whether it’s for a smoothie or a chocolate bar – in and out, done.”

Millennials were pushing the trend – “it’s ultra-convenient for them just to tap an app to order,” Lavenant said.