Q&A Series: COVID-19 & The Food and Beverage Industry

MapQuest for Business’s Josh Wilkinson answers questions pertaining to COVID-19’s impact on the food and beverage industry.

COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on nearly every business, regardless of industry or geographic location. With businesses now having to navigate new, unchartered waters, many are searching for reliable and trusted information so that they can make informed decisions.

In this Q&A, food and beverage industry expert, Josh Wilkinson of MapQuest for Business, answers five questions about COVID-19’s impact on the industry and how businesses can best manage this time of change.

1. What impact has COVID-19 had on the food and beverage industry?

The food and beverage industry has taken a dramatic hit during this pandemic, forcing restaurants and chains alike to close their doors to customers. The National Restaurant Association said that The restaurant industry, more than any other industry in the nation, has suffered the most significant sales and job losses since the COVID-19 outbreak began. They also reported that 2 out of 3 restaurant employees (over 8 million of the 15.5 million employees nationwide) have lost their jobs. Many shifted to pick-up and delivery options, which only accounts for a small fraction of their revenues from the same time just a year ago.

2. How are companies responding to these changes?

Some restaurants are offering takeout curbside pickup or delivery options. Some have simplified their menus. Others have expanded to a more meal kit-style menu, which can be assembled at home and saved for meals throughout the week. There are even restaurants offering kitchen essentials to customers to help deplete expiring inventory, which many appreciate as they can stock their kitchen with higher-quality items you cannot get from grocery stores. Items like bread, pizza dough, vegetables, and dairy goods. Luckily, many restaurants have already begun pivoting to a delivery model since the demand has been steadily increasing over the last few years with the launch of several food delivery home kits emerging.

3. Do you think COVID-19 will change the future of the food and beverage industry?

Many restaurants had already been using a variety of different types of delivery services like DoorDash, GrubHub, and Uber Eats. Undoubtedly, many restaurants may realize customer loyalty from those who prefer eating food from their favorite restaurants in their own homes. The question then becomes: how will restaurants enable clientele to receive meals, whether through building their own delivery system online or partnering with third-party delivery companies?

4. How has MapQuest for Business supported the food and beverage industry?

MapQuest for Business has been an integral partner to the food and beverage industry, supplying location and business listing data to consumers for decades. The restaurant industry has been a large part of the MapQuest for Business community since our inception, enabling patrons to find restaurant locations, as well as directing delivery drivers to the correct destination. Through the use of our well-documented and mature APIs, restaurant owners can leverage the power of MapQuest for Business’s robust APIs to enable customers to find the closest location. The technology provides a restaurant’s delivery staff with the tools necessary to expedite the delivery process by optimizing their routes and scheduling.

5. What advice do you have for companies on how they can best navigate this time of change and uncertainty?

As we navigate the uncertain future for restaurant-goers, continuing to explore and maintain multiple service options will be necessary to ensure customer satisfaction. If you haven’t done so already, consider offering delivery options on your website. Reduce inventory levels by altering menus to easier to prepare or most popular items. Meal kits are great for larger families who look for restaurant-quality food they can prepare at home. If your inventory is not turning quickly enough, consider adding essential kitchen items for customers to purchase intended for at-home use. As restaurants explore re-opening, it will become necessary to change how you manage your in-house clientele. People will be anxious to dine out again. Using MapQuest for Business will get those customers to you whether it is for in-house dining or delivery options.

View the MapQuest for Business brochure to learn more about our offerings. For more in-depth and industry-specific information, view MapQuest for Business’s, Solutions for the Food & Beverage Industry.

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