05/20/2013 10:43 am ET Updated Jul 20, 2013

Local Businesses Growing With Gen D (Generation Delivery)

Today's get it now society wants more than just a cool phone with instant access to news, friends and family - they want dinner served up too.

Mealtime planning has shifted with the generations. In the 1950s, TV dinners became the convenient meal while takeout gained traction in the 70s. In the 1990s, speedy delivery became popular at pizza joints while in the Internet era, online ordering started gaining traction with techies and early adopters. Today, on-demand delivery is common for busy professionals and urbanites with a couple of clicks on a web site or through the tap of an app. Delivery helps drive revenue for local businesses, such as restaurants, across the U.S. by reaching more customers in the neighborhood. This new delivery focused mindset makes up Gen D -- the delivery generation.

Industry analysts see one of the key growth drivers for the restaurant industry and other retail or service-oriented businesses is through offering delivery. According to NPD Group, food delivery is a $75 billion business and a survey from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that already nearly 10 percent of online shoppers want same day delivery in their online shopping experience. BCG also found that affluent millennials are willing to pay up to $10 for same day delivery.

While larger chains are struggling with the shift from next day to same day, local businesses are already profiting from Gen D.

Hoboken, New Jersey's Biggie's Clam Bar has been family-run for four generations. Today, delivery is a substantial 35 percent of their business mix and they have regulars who order delivery as often as others come into the restaurant. "We get online orders from business pros leaving their Manhattan office asking for dinner to be delivered when they arrive home," said Steve Ranuro, great-grandson of founder Joseph "Biggie" Yaccarino. "We have a personal connection with the folks who order online and find that they will order a wider selection of entrees off the menu while many of our in-store regulars stick with the burger or clams they always eat."

Ranuro noted that delivery helps keep Biggie's sales consistent, solving a real yield management problem for restaurant or store owners. "In the past, we might have a slow night when it rains or is less than ideal to travel. Now, our deliveries balance out the slower in-house periods of the day or week to keep our neighborhood customers engaged with Biggie's even when they're not in the restaurants."

Good quality food runs in the family also at De Pasada, a Mexican restaurant in Chicago serving up tortas, tacos, tostados and more. While the restaurant has a small web presence, the owners consider online delivery "free marketing for the business". Greg Espinoza convinced his father to add online delivery. He finds it more convenient for processing orders than fielding phone calls and the overall restaurant revenue is up approximately 30 percent.

In the restaurant business, it's essential to manage against expenses. With high real estate costs for New York City-based restaurants delivery has become an essential component of managing the bottom line. 3 Star Diner, which is open 24-hours, gets half of their revenue from delivery. Nicholas Kirakakis, who runs the diner with his father, found online delivery a natural extension of their core business. He's seen a generational shift of online orders coming primarily from younger customers, which also include emoticons like smiley faces in the special instructions. And he's smiling from the higher average online order.

Gen D also shops their neighborhood whenever possible. In a recent customer survey of 5,400 people across the USA, more than 65 percent said they shop from local stores and neighborhood restaurants. These locavores also order dinner for delivery at least once a week.

The local delivery landscape is ever changing as Gen D wants everything delivered. offers instant ordering from spirits/wine and grocery stores, which are also seeing an increase in sales through new customers in their respective neighborhoods. "Delivery brings us closer to our neighbors who are a few blocks away in Gramercy," said Michael Buckley, president, Gramercy Wine Cellars. "While many Manhattanites will pick up a bottle of wine from the shop closest to them, our customers are drawn to the convenience of online delivery, ordering a special scotch or robust red wine on their way out work of so it arrives when they get home."

From spirits to split pea soup delivery, Gen D empowers the local economy by driving incremental sales for small businesses. These entrepreneurs are the job creators, creating two thirds of all new jobs and accounting for half the sales in the U.S. according to BCG. With small businesses looking for new ways to thrive in today's economy, accessing Gen D with online delivery is the way to go.