The pandemic has affected businesses big and small. It’s left no place untouched in terms of its adverse side effects, lockdown protocols, and health and safety measures. While more prominent companies may have had the wiggle room to adjust and compensate for the new difficulties posed by the pandemic, smaller businesses didn’t have that luxury. The tourism and hospitality industry worldwide took a hard hit as traveling was banned across the world and hotels shut down.
There have also been industries that have taken the pandemic in stride and continued to pursue newer ways of doing business. The restaurant industry is a particularly great example to look into because of how the pandemic affected businesses in both good and bad ways. Due to lockdowns, most people scrambled for food and household supplies that even led to extreme instances of hoarding. Grocery store workers became essential personnel as these businesses needed to stay open even during the height of the pandemic.
Restaurants also saw a similar situation because those of us who couldn’t cook frequently turned to local restaurants and bigger fast-food chains, which made them an essential part of the pandemic experience. Pick-up and drive-thru lanes became a popular development as restaurants aimed to avoid customers physically coming into their stores and possibly getting sick. App-based ordering systems also became immensely popular in both the restaurant and essential goods industries.
Furthermore, integrating technology into their business models allowed them the opportunity to try to navigate the pandemic successfully. As we now transition into the new normal, a hybrid business model is arising. Businesses continue to put out robust e-commerce efforts while also looking to start opening their physical locations again.
The strict health and safety protocols that we saw in public establishments during the beginning of the pandemic are now slowly drawing back. Though contact tracing and social distancing are still present, it’s not nearly as intense as it was before. Even with lesser protocols in place, it’s clear that the standard for cleanliness has increased for businesses all across the board, not just for restaurants.
The food industry has long held high standards regarding the cleanliness of establishments, but the pandemic has shone an even bigger spotlight on them. The cleanliness of your establishment now directly relates to whether your consumers feel safe dining with you. Frequent commercial cleaning and disinfection have become regular practices for even smaller establishments as it also puts their very own workforce at ease. This has bled into other aspects of restaurants, such as HVAC maintenance and commercial cleaning for kitchen filters.
The new practices and business avenues restaurants explored during the pandemic don’t look like they’re going anywhere anytime soon. App-based ordering remains one of the largest sources of revenue for big and small businesses. Whether these applications developed specifically for just one restaurant or its participation with a third-party app, it’s been proven to reach a more comprehensive array of consumers.
The engagement businesses have gained with their market through these types of technology is unprecedented. App-based ordering has also significantly shortened the customer feedback loop. Electronic receipts and record-keeping allow customers to provide valuable feedback for specific locations and even staff. This type of information wasn’t something readily available to business owners prior to the pandemic. Customer feedback plays a significant role in how businesses can continue to evolve in order to serve customers better.
While not the case for all businesses, we’re also seeing more and more establishments start to offer healthier options for customers. Being stuck at home has caused more of us to eat more processed or fast food as healthier options rarely became available in-store or online.
A decrease in physical activity may have led some of us to become a bit out of shape and thus on the lookout for healthier alternatives in our favorite restaurants. Scarcity of supply and logistical issues due to the pandemic have also affected restaurant offerings. Businesses have started shifting to sourcing their raw materials and ingredients from local farmers who have a more stable supply route.
The food industry has gotten highly creative in enticing customers to start dining with them again. Online deals and advertisements that offer you special discounts for ordering online have been effective marketing tools for customers to start purchasing again. Similar promos have also been implemented in physical locations, with in-store exclusive offers and punch cards for frequent visitors encouraging consumers to stop by their physical locations more. Experts are optimistic that these businesses will be bouncing back with zeal in the new normal through their innovative new practices.