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COVID-19: Navigating the impact to your business. See our top strategies

Food & Dining

How Restaurants Can be a 
Model for Digital Transformation

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:

1. Are restaurants safe with coronavirus?

2. Is it safe to order from restaurants?

3. Is it safe to go to restaurants?

4. Is it safe to order food from…?

5. Is it safe to eat at restaurants coronavirus?

Country music star and TV personality Jimmy Dean said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Harnessing the power of digital and technology enables restaurants to address concerns about safety and serve consumers where they are, while deploying innovative goods and services with speed and at cost that was once unimaginable, while collecting valuable data.

“We will see more promotions testing core product innovation coming through off-premise and, of course, more creativity in the fight for loyalty and gamification to keep the brand top-of-mind and highly competitive,” said Dan Lubetsky, senior director, customer experience and innovation.

Exploring digital and 
technology advantages

As restaurants evaluate the spectrum of actions actions that enable them to diversify and maximize revenue, they must ask themselves:

  • Why should we consider investing in changes and/or new services?
  • Where should we invest in exploration of new services and/or exploitation of  existing service efficiencies?
  • What opportunities will likely provide the best return on investment for
    the hypothesis?
  • Which initiatives can start now, and which need a bit more investigation?

The table below helps answer these questions and how to act on them: