Many restaurants have demonstrated grit and agility in overcoming the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. Both quick-service restaurants and fine dining have pivoted toward pickup, while strengthening delivery either directly or through third parties, with total online takeout and delivery sales growing from seven percent in 2016 to 27 percent in 2020.
Digitally transformed brands such as Panera, Chipotle, Domino’s and McDonald’s are reaping the benefits of digital, a key enabler in weathering the storm. With nearly $120 billion in lost sales in the United States since the pandemic began, restaurants’ battleground for keeping the doors open lies in shifting focus from getting customers in the door to diversifying and maximizing revenue from each customer that enters the physical or digital door.
Restaurants must continue to focus on evolving their off-premise capabilities to quickly respond to customers’ concerns, incorporating maturing fringe experiences such as voice, chat bots and in-car experiences to maximize efficiency.
Recent Yelp survey data indicate 42 percent of diners want to hear more about food safety and sanitation from restaurants and a quick look at Google trends data show that safety is being queried in all aspects of the food and dining experience: