Food delivery platforms have flourished in recent years as the industry has continued to grow exponentially. In fact, Morgan Stanley projected that the industry would reach nearly half a trillion dollars in revenue opportunity by 2025 - and that was before COVID-19 quarantines catapulted food delivery services into the spotlight.
COVID-19 has actually accelerated the timetable for growth in the food delivery industry. Many people are trying food delivery services for the first time while sheltering in place and restaurants are responding in kind: the number of menu options on food delivery platforms has surged in recent weeks.
Competition between food delivery platforms was already intense before COVID-19, but now with a massive increase in both new customers and new restaurants onboarding every day, the industry is poised for a leader to pull away from the pack. There is now a unique opportunity for new food delivery companies to differentiate themselves, even if they were late entries to the race.
Now is the perfect time for companies to begin thinking about their post-coronavirus strategy, and the company that can best plan and execute now will be in a position to capture the most market share after people return to work. These are some of the things that delivery companies will need to do in order to thrive in a post-coronavirus world.
Strengthen relationships with restaurants to reduce platform churn
Before COVID-19, the priority of the industry was growth and quickly onboarding as many restaurants onto delivery platforms as possible. After COVID-19, the priority will be restaurant partner retention. Work to strengthen relationships with the most successful restaurants now so they will be more likely to remain on your platform even after foot traffic and dine-in services return to pre-pandemic levels.
Take advantage of new restaurants coming onto the scene post-COVID
Business Insider cites a startling UBS estimate that 1 in 5 restaurants will close permanently due to the shutdowns and economic stress of COVID-19. While this may result in fewer restaurants for the short term, new restaurants will eventually replace those closures.
Delivery platforms need to keep their restaurant list updated and prevent bad ordering experiences due to unexpected closures. One sure way to lose a customer is allowing them to place an order which only gets rejected 30 minutes later because the restaurant is closed permanently.
Make the ordering experience even more seamless
eMarketer, a European market research company, made a pre-pandemic prediction that by 2021, 20% of smartphone users will utilize one or more food delivery apps. The subsequent surge in delivery app downloads in March and April of 2020 suggests that delivery apps downloads could actually be many times that by 2021.
Many consumers will have gotten used to ordering food online and will continue to use delivery apps even after COVID-19. Delivery platforms should focus on improving their menu and ordering features in order to create the best online ordering experience. In the long run, the app that has the best ordering experience will win more consumers and retain more users.
Here are the most important features that consumers want to see when ordering food online using a food delivery platform or app:
- Full menus that has photos for all items
- Good descriptions, including ingredients, of menu items
- The ability to customize an order
- The ability to see reviews left by other users
Become the new content King for restaurants
Many new companies have started competing against Yelp to be the next authority for food and restaurant reviews. Google Maps, Zomato, OpenTable, and even social media platforms like Instagram have all become relevant sources that people use to find restaurant options.
Yet none of these platforms offer the same features that delivery apps now offer. Many people who have tried using food delivery services during COVID-19 will realize the convenience of being able to read reviews, see food pictures, and place orders all on one platform. Older platforms simply don’t offer the same functionality that food delivery apps do. This makes it likely that the next online restaurant and food authority will be a company in the food delivery industry.
Differentiate with better photography at scale
One of the most important things that hungry consumers look for online is menu photos. Psychologically, our brains are hardwired to rely on visuals when deciding what to eat, and nothing influences the brain more than seeing a vivid picture of an appetizing dish. Snappr ran a survey asking people which information was most important to them when looking at a restaurant’s website. Not surprisingly, viewing food pictures was listed as 44% more important than reading food descriptions and 38% more important than reading user reviews!
Having access to authentic, high-quality photos is something that app users expect and demand. But it also happens to be one of the most difficult things for marketplaces to obtain at scale. Photos taken by restaurant owners or users tend to be of questionable quality and are inconsistent across the marketplace, making a delivery platform’s menu look messy or even unappetizing. A complete lack of photos isn’t any better. Both scenarios are common and cause restaurants to perform poorly in the delivery space.
That’s why having a professional solution like Snappr for your business photography needs is so important. Snappr makes onboarding new restaurant images and updating existing restaurant menus fast and easy. Best of all, the addition of professional photos offers a quick return on investment. In fact, GrubHub claims that having good quality photos can boost sales by over 30%!
How does it work? Snappr finds the best local professional food photographers near your restaurant partners, who then execute high-quality, authentic food photos and deliver them to your platform at scale. These creative visuals elevate the consumer’s online ordering experience, giving an edge to your platform.
Focus on transplantation between home and work
COVID-19 has caused millions of people and their families to evaluate and change how they experience restaurants. And a plethora of food delivery apps has been there, helping consumers continue to find comfort and enjoyment in restaurant meals from the safety of home.
As society returns to pre-pandemic norms, most customers will not be willing to give up the newfound convenience and familiarity they’ve enjoyed with food delivery platforms. Instead, they will likely only expand their interaction with these food delivery apps as they transition back into the workplace.
Here are some tips on how restaurants and food delivery platforms should plan ahead for people returning back to work and what kind services they should promote:
- Be ready for an increase in delivery demands at offices and downtown locations once COVID-19 closures are over.
- Offer new features to help facilitate group orders. Allowing consumers to add their cart to an existing group order makes it easier for offices and teams to order together from the same restaurant. This has the added benefit of increasing average order value which will appeal to restaurants, food transporters, and delivery platforms alike.
- Consider offering subscription services and bulk catering purchases that office managers may be interested in. Many companies have regularly scheduled team lunch meetings where ordering individually would be cumbersome.
- Utilize data mining to analyze customer orders and eating patterns. Eating habits are often more predictable at work, offering restaurants and delivery platforms a great chance to test which personalized offers and promotions convert the best.