Will Online Ordering & Takeout Help Save Restaurants’ From The COVID-19 Crisis?
As people hunker down for what could be weeks of social isolation, the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the service industry is becoming painfully clear by the day. With the recently mandated shutdown of dining rooms and bars, restaurant owners are finding themselves in extraordinarily uncertain times.
Family-run restaurants that have been around for years are now scrambling to break even, with slim profit margins at the best of times. Restaurants that have managed to keep their doors open have done so by pivoting almost exclusively to carryout and delivery services. Some are also relying on the sale of gift cards and merchandise. In this post, we will explore
- How delivery services are helping many restaurants stay afloat
- The shift in consumer behaviour as a result of being under lockdown
- Lessons learned from China that could help the hospitality industry recover in Canada
Food delivery apps such as Uber Eats and DoorDash are essential tools for the many restaurant owners struggling to stay afloat during this crisis. Contactless delivery services, whether it be for groceries or takeout, are also vital for people stranded at home with immunocompromised or elderly relatives, and for who weekly trips to the grocery store are too much of a risk.
Can Delivery Apps Save Restaurants?
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, consumers are relying on food delivery services more and more. As placing orders online or over the phone have become among the few options left for eating out, consumers who would typically dine in are opening up to the idea of food being delivered to their doorstep.
Recently, the number of downloads in food delivery apps has reached new highs. Forced to stay indoors, people are becoming increasingly aware of the other ways in which food can be bought. As people continue to adapt to the massive disruption in their daily lives — typical of a worldwide viral pandemic — the number of consumers using food delivery apps is expected to rise even further.
While some Canadians have been quick to ransack local stores for toilet paper and hand sanitizer, leaving empty shelves in their wake, many consumers have judged in-store shopping to be too much of an unnecessary risk altogether. Whether grocery shopping is done during peak hours or not doesn’t seem to matter to many people who are living with at-risk family members.
In looking out for their loved ones, people who don’t usually order takeout are figuring out how to download food delivery apps and how to navigate those apps for contactless delivery. Health and safety are at the forefront of every consumer’s mind during this crisis. From their perspective, ordering through an app or getting a restaurant on the phone is much safer than the process of ordering in person, which includes traveling to a restaurant, touching a menu, exchanging cash, and waiting around for food to be prepared.
For their part, Uber Eats is now waiving customer delivery fees for independent restaurants in both Canada and the U.S for orders over a certain dollar amount. and, like DoorDash and Foodora, is providing a contactless delivery option upon a consumer’s request. Other apps, including SkipTheDishes, have deemed contactless delivery as mandatory for all orders.
Several food delivery apps are suspending cash payment, ensuring orders are sealed in tamper-evident packaging, and providing delivery workers with sanitization materials. Helping employees and customers feel safe and supported is a priority for many companies during these challenging times.
Uber Eats, in particular, is planning to launch a marketing campaign to promote local restaurants, especially those that are new to the app. The company has also announced that both Canadian and American restaurants will be able to receive daily payouts instead of weekly, which was previously the standard.
With the recent actions they’ve taken, delivery companies like Uber Eats seem to understand the tough situation that consumers, employees, and restaurants all find themselves in at the moment. As the epidemic continues to put a strain on the service industry, food delivery apps are sure to function as an invaluable channel of support.
Why Food Delivery Services Provide a Lifeline
As we’ve witnessed in large regions of China, food delivery services acted as an essential resource for the millions of Chinese citizens confined to their homes as a complete lockdown gripped the nation’s busiest districts.
In China, food couriers were responsible for feeding healthcare workers braving the frontlines of the pandemic. In the same spirit of endurance, Uber Eats is providing healthcare workers with over 300,000 free meals.
Here in Canada, as social distancing is beginning to feel more like a quarantine, food delivery services offer some psychological benefit to people who find themselves worrying about their next trip to the grocery store, or whether they’ll be greeted with empty shelves once they arrive.
As the number of infections worldwide continues to rise, it’s important to keep in mind that social distancing has never been implemented on such a massive scale and for what may still be weeks to come. The psychological impact of isolation will vary from person to person. Having food delivery services available through the touch of a button is bound to alleviate a great deal of anxiety for people who feel trapped in their own homes.
The Other Side of the Lockdown: Will Food Delivery Catch On?
With companies like Uber Eats offering to waive customer delivery fees for independent restaurants and to promote its new members, more restaurants are likely to come on board with such apps. As a result of the emerging partnerships between local restaurants and food delivery apps during the current crisis, delivery services will hopefully continue to evolve, expand their reach and improve their services in an effort to positively impact restaurants over the long-term. In an article published 04/17/2020 by The Star it is reported that some restaurants are forming “delivery co-op” partnerships and collectively calling for app services to cut fees that can range from 25 per cent to 40 per cent of orders.
For now, food delivery apps are concentrating their efforts on the surge of takeout and delivery orders while prioritizing local small businesses.
For their part, consumers are supporting local restaurants in a number of ways. When a food delivery arrives at their doorstep, consumers are tipping virtually — in keeping with social distancing measures — as well as generously, in appreciation of someone who has risked their own health to provide them with their next meal.
To learn more about how to support your restaurant through the COVID-19 crisis, get in touch with CHI Real Estate by calling 647-347-9723.