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What You Need to Know About Delivery During the COVID-19 Crisis

As of right now, off-premise dining is keeping the restaurant industry alive through both takeout and delivery. Nearly every restaurant in the country needed to shut down its dining room to create social distancing, but even in cities that are on shelter-in-place orders, restaurants can remain open if they have takeout and delivery models. If you’re not doing some kind of takeout model, you’re out of business. 

The truth is, even in a crisis we are in the guest engagement business, which means making sure that our guests have the best possible experience. In our current environment that means making sure people can feel safe and confident that they’re getting food in a healthy manner. During the first week of the crisis our customers sent out 2x their normal email volume to explain health and safety procedures and saw an 8% higher open rate.   

The catch is that even brands that have had digital ordering and delivery for well over a period of years, and have developed strong programs, now face new challenges. 

First and foremost is the loss of our employees. Restaurants have had to figure out the appropriate staffing levels to fit the current model, and even those restaurants with mature digital ordering programs saw sales drop as much as 80%. Wlooked at our nationwide restaurant data and could see sales and visits down nearly 50% across all segments, even among the most loyal customers. So right-sizing the staff is, and will remain, a key challenge.  

Second is menu management. That is, making sure that the orders that come in are orders that can be fulfilled. Smart brands have cut their menus to just their best-selling items and that information needs to be communicated out to the customers quickly. The easiest way to do this is if you have complete control of the ordering ecosystem, from a branded mobile app through the website. But customers are still likely to come through third-party aggregators, so making sure those menus are updated will be critical as we move forward.  

Third is the type of takeout and delivery you can offer. Guests now want touchless programs that are either curbside or front door drop off, so the order and delivery software needs to be flexible enough to allow for that. With both these options, brands need a way to communicate the handoff event. Most vendors, including us, added a call button for curbside orders so the customer can proactively inform the restaurant that they have arrived. Customers need to know that these options exist.   

Finally, we all need to think through the long-term even as we’re focused on our short-term challenges. As a society, we will get through this, and If we can make our guests lives a little brighter in these dark times, then we’ve done our job well.  

Annual Loyalty Report: 2021
Loyalty programs shone through as one of the key survival tools

The first annual Paytronix Loyalty Report examines trends across the loyalty landscape in both restaurants and convenience stores throughout 2020