The COVID 19 pandemic has upended the strongest economies. The hospitality industry is one among the worst hit. Restaurants and eateries across the globe have been forced to closed their doors, costing them millions of dollars in revenue.
However, a survey of business performance during the COVID -19 outbreak has highlighted an interesting fact. There has been a surge in online delivery and takeout services since the outbreak. In fact, online food delivery services have helped keep many restaurants afloat. It has recorded a significant increase of almost 50% and shows promise for further growth in the second half of 2020 too.
Panic Buying and Contagion Fear Responsible for the Rise
Before the pandemic, an online ordering system was only considered a supplementary income channel. It was one of the marketing strategies used by restaurants to expand their customer base. However, the pandemic turned it into a must-have service.
Food is essential and the need for it in a time of total confinement fuelled the growth of the e-food business. The sight of empty shelves in stores gave rise to panic buying. In an attempt to stock up on essentials, people have been bulk ordering food online. The fear of contagion is another primary reason for the rise. The lockdown has restricted movement. People are afraid to move outdoors. They are limiting their trips outdoors and practising social distancing. Thus, online food delivery has become the only alternative means to obtain food.
Even traditional customers, those that prefer an in-store purchase, are seeking out digital platforms to order food online. The exponential rise in the number of downloads of food delivery apps is evidence of this. The usage has also increased since the outbreak. People are ordering a variety of food items online from cooked meals to foods grains and supplies.
Yet another reason for the rising popularity of online food delivery services is the positive psychological impact it has had on people. Food delivery apps have allowed people to adhere to quarantine guidelines while meeting their food requirements. They serve as a kind of assurance in this time of crisis.
Winning Customer’s Trust
While food delivery services are emerging as frontline warriors, the coronavirus pandemic has given rise to a new set of challenges. People are worried about delivery valets and couriers becoming carriers of the virus. What’s commendable is that food delivery services are making special efforts to not only preserve their businesses but to also promote the safety of their customers and employees. This includes:
- Improving the processes of food handling and packaging.
- Implementing strict hygiene measures in food preparation.
- Increasing use of masks and sanitisers as precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the contagion.
- Use of double layers of packaging to prevent food contamination.
- Suspending cash payments in favour of digital payments.
- Temperature tracking across the entire team from cooks to couriers.
Contactless delivery is yet another trend that is fast catching up as far as the E-food business is concerned. This includes delivery persons leaving food parcels on the doorsteps of customers without meeting them. All these measures have been implemented to reduce the risk of a virus spread.
E-Food Services are here to stay
Ordering food online may have just become the new normal. People have voted in favour of online food delivery services even post-pandemic. Thus, food businesses are going to have to factor in a major change in their manner of operation.
Many restaurateurs have already started exploring ways to keep their doors open. Online food delivery will benefit restaurants on the other side of the pandemic. A large number of restaurants have so far relied on third-party providers to manage their food delivery services. Now is the right time to establish an in-house food delivery system to handle online food orders. Food delivery services are changing and sustaining businesses. The implementation will give you the upper hand in your niche. E-food business is also an opportunity to grow one’s customer base and tap into newer markets. The shift from in-house dining to takeout and online delivery had already been predicted but has come faster than expected.
Supporting local businesses
The pandemic has sure opened up new opportunities for food delivery services. However, while they may have provided a lifeline to so many stuck at home, they are also among the most vulnerable to the infection.
Many local businesses may never recover from the shutdown. A few have grasped at the last straws with takeout and delivery services. Food courier services have been providing a valuable service to millions of people in self-isolation. As a community, ordering food online could prove a great way to support restaurants, and stores and help them re-establish. Tipping generously is yet another way we could support these businesses.
Food delivery services have been keeping us healthy and happy. They have also helped sustain the food industry. It is here to stay and affect the future demands and prospects of the industry.