As government officials tell citizens to avoid public spaces amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, do food delivery services have a greater role to play?
As shops are emptying across the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many restaurants are on the brink of collapse, food delivery apps are providing a lifeline to businesses and consumers alike.
In the UK, Deliveroo has announced that it will offer no-contact deliveries. This option, available via its app, allows customers the option to have the company’s riders knock on the door, and leave goods on the doorstep with the rider standing at a distance recommended by health officials. This service is applicable both ways, and riders have the choice to also choose a contactless delivery.
“This is a worrying time for everyone, and we want to acknowledge the incredible efforts of all our riders who are working hard at this time and who are committed to helping the communities in which they work,” said a Deliveroo spokesperson.
This development follows on from a similar announcement made by fellow British food app, Just Eat, who has also launched the same service. Deliveroo will be rolling out this service internationally. In Hong Kong, 20 malls have joined Deliveroo's programme to rescue the plunge in food and beverage sales. Deliveroo expects this to generate US$2.6mn in incremental online sales, benefitting 300 restaurants.
In the US, delivery company DoorDash has not only matched these efforts by launching contactless options that automatically apply at check out, but it has waived delivery fees through April. Existing partners will not be charged commission fees, and the company will seek to provide commission reductions where possible.
DoorDash confirmed: “This is not a deferral of fees, nor will merchants be asked to pay anything back.” It has also promised that it will provide free hand sanitiser and gloves to its delivery workers, but this is yet to be rolled out nationwide until the end of next week, according to Business Insider.
DoorDash is also leading the way as it partners with United Way Worldwide in order to deliver groceries and prepared food to seniors and low-income families, as well as mobility-impared individuals in the US. It currently has 100,000 restaurants signed on, a number that is sure to increase in the coming weeks.
In Australia, a petition has been circulating, calling for Uber Eats and other food delivery services to cut down on its 35% commission in a bid to help restaurants during this challenging time. “With Australians increasingly staying at home instead of eating out because of coronavirus fears, these small food businesses are going broke,” Fordham wrote on the petition.
Uber Eats has started to make changes in the US. Janelle Sallenave, the head of Uber Eats for the US and Canada, said: "As more customers are choosing to stay indoors, we’ve waived the Delivery Fee for the more than 100,000 independent restaurants across US & Canada on Uber Eats. We will also launch daily dedicated, targeted marketing campaigns—both in-app and via email—to promote delivery from local restaurants, especially those that are new to the app."
Though representatives from Deliveroo and Just Eat have yet to confirm an increase in sales, a number of companies are signing up to the delivery services for the first time in a hope to prevent further losses as the virus reaches its peak across the world.
[images: Getty and Deliveroo]
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