COVID-19 has not only been a devastating public-health crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen before; it has also been the biggest challenge that the restaurant industry will likely ever face. The sheer scale of the impact is likely to have a ripple effect that the industry will unlikely recover from for at least several years. A huge amount of restaurants and food businesses have been forced to close their doors, some for the last time, and members of staff all across the sector have either been furloughed or let go. Though there is still a lot we don’t know about the Coronavirus, the very nature of the way it spreads threatens how restaurants operate and will require sweeping changes in order to combat it effectively.

Unlike many other small businesses, a restaurant’s cash flow is completely dependent on current business. This means that every type of restaurant and food business has been significantly impacted, from the largest chains with locations all around the world to the fine dining experiences and small cafes, bistros and delis has been suffering greatly over the past few months. 

Due to this, many food businesses have been forced to adapt and transform themselves into an online restaurant during COVID-19. But as the guidelines and regulations are constantly changing, it is increasingly difficult to understand the best practices for food stores and restaurants. With this in mind, it is vital to the survival of restaurants, as well as the food industry itself, to know how to start an online restaurant during COVID-19, as well as understanding what are the benefits of online food ordering and why it is so important in the current climate.

How Food Businesses Are Suffering

The COVID-19 pandemic has left no industry untouched, with restaurants and hospitality businesses hit hard as they struggle to cope with an unforeseen challenge. The Coronavirus continues to devastate the industry and ramifications are not yet fully realised. Sales losses could eventually total up to $240 billion by the year’s end and that’s not even accounting for future issues such as a second wave or further periods of enforced lockdown. Two out of three restaurant employees have now lost their jobs and with four out of ten restaurants closing, the likelihood of them being able to acquire another job in the industry is now a slim possibility.

For the ones that are able to afloat and re-open, the future isn’t much brighter. Customers are likely to be wary of risking their health over a meal in a restaurant while the prospect of encountering masked waiters, tables spaced six feet apart and plexiglass barriers are just some of the potential changes that might need to be made. All of which is likely to make the idea of dining out a much less enjoyable experience.

Even Before COVID-19, Online Was Essential

The impact of technology on the food industry has been revolutionary. Delivery apps such as Just Eat, Deliveroo and UberEats were already important before the emergence of the COVID-19 virus; now they are paramount to the survival of many restaurants and food businesses. It’s currently the case that 92% of restaurant traffic is now off-premise meaning that if you weren’t online before the pandemic, it’s critical that you make the shift to digital services as soon as possible.

This also includes your social media platforms as well. People eat with their eyes just as much as their mouth and when it comes to deciding between which restaurant to order from, even before the pandemic, the majority of customers would check menus online first, view Instagram posts and read reviews prior to making their decision. This is why an online presence is so essential, now more than ever. A good online presence will help to create an engaged audience who are much more aware of your services, which helps to build trust, loyalty and future sales. With some businesses perhaps previously skeptical of this approach, the answer to the question of why start an online food business is now simple, because it is vital. 

7 Advantages Of Moving Your Restaurant Online

When it comes to taking on the challenge of converting your physical location into an online restaurant during COVID-19, it can be difficult to know just where to start. However, by following the best practices for food stores and restaurants, as well as understanding the advantages a digital approach can have, you will give yourself and your business the best chance of staying afloat during these difficult times. Here are just some of the reasons why you should look to turn yourself into an online restaurant during COVID-19:

It’s Your Only Option: Currently, opening your restaurant back up to the public is probably not even a possibility. This also matches the changing way people are choosing to interact with restaurants as 51% of consumers have downloaded at least one new app to purchase food and essentials since the COVID-19 outbreak. On top of this, 1 in 5 restaurant owners in cities affected by mandatory restaurant closures are certain that delivery and takeout options will be able to sustain their business until normal operations resume.

People Order More Online: When ordering in, people will tend to order more food and spend more money. This is evident as the average online ordering check size is 23% larger than in-store checks make it a significantly more profitable endeavour if you are able to implement it effectively.

Increased Demand: People are looking for any semblance of normality they can find and ordering food from a restaurant is one way they can achieve this. Recent studies have shown that 33% of consumers say they’re getting more takeout than before the pandemic as the limited options for what people can currently do is leading them to purchase food with more regularity from online vendors.

It Can Reach A New Audience: Younger generations are much more comfortable with the concept of ordering food directly from a restaurant as 50% of Gen Z consumers have stated they are still willing to try out a new restaurant if curbside pickup is an option. This is an incredibly large audience you can potentially target and build loyalty with if you are dedicated to embracing an online first approach.

It Will Support You Once You Can Open Again: The concept of operating as an online restaurant only is a blinkered way to look at things. Instead, once things are again back to normal and you can physically open, the two can work in conjunction with one another. This will give you two avenues from which you can generate revenue and greatly expand your potential reach as a business.

Your Audience Is Already Online: Now, more than ever before, you need to be visible to your audience. In today’s climate, 70% of people look online when planning their next meal with 86% saying they will try a new restaurant after seeing food-related content online. Your content and digital approach is critical because this is where the majority of your audience already are. If you’re not online, you’re massively losing out to those who are.

It’s The Safest Option: Currently, public health should be a main priority, regardless of the business you are running. Becoming an online restaurant during COVID-19 lets you continue to operate in the safest possible way. Payments are all done electronically, human contact is reduced throughout the process and concepts like contact free-delivery ensure that your customers feel comfortable to order from you without risking their health and well-being.

Final Thoughts

Changes to the food and drink industry are necessary. The coronavirus pandemic, and the economic disruption it is causing to the restaurant industry, will result in many restaurants closing. The only way to survive these difficult times is through finding ways to adapt and to implement an online first approach. As we all look to face these new challenges, the hope we take is that what comes from these changes and adaptations will improve the overall experience of dining for staff, owners and customers alike for many years to come.



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