There was a shift in online buying behaviour during the harsher lockdown– this accelerated its widespread adoption, which meant that people who weren’t buying online were certainly doing so now. Mobile ordering during the harsher lockdown allowed restaurants to continue to operate, even as patrons were confined to their homes. This has proved to be a valuable lifeline to the industry. But this was a worldwide phenomenon and wasn’t only restricted to South Africa.

Mobile ordering has been around for years in South Africa. In 2016, Uber Eats made its debut here. The popular food delivery app rolled out its services in Soweto as recently as May this year. Restaurant owner Dumile Badela told Reuters: “I’d say Uber Eats has improved our sales by about 15%-20%. But I’m targeting even more, up to 50% … There’s a huge opportunity.”

Mr D Food and Uber Eats own 80%-90% of the food-hailing market in South Africa, so it makes sense for restaurants to be on either one of these apps.

What else is going on?

Players in the restaurant industry will need to continue finding new ways to distribute their food. Some industry players are trying their luck at ghost kitchens. What this means is that chefs from different brands are operating in a centralised kitchen to save on costs. According to an article in Bizcommunity: “This allows for significant savings in terms of facilities as these locations do not have any dine-in capacity, with the food only being sent out for delivery.”

There is a local ghost kitchen called Smart Kitchen Co. which has turned out to be South Africa’s largest provider. The company offers shared kitchen facilities to fast food companies and 15 online restaurants that operate from five different physical locations. Some of the companies that use this service include King Chicken, Jazzy’s Pizza and Quick Convenience.

Support restaurants

Of course there is a risk of exposure to the coronavirus when you venture out anywhere, but you can take precautions to minimise this threat. Mobile ordering is the safest way to go, but you can also opt for the dine-in option. Just ensure that you keep your distance from other patrons and, if you can, try to sit at an outside table. If the restaurant isn’t abiding by health and safety regulations – leave! Make sure you scrutinise all the health steps that are being conducted by the restaurant.

The virus and food

The number one question on patrons’ minds has probably been if they can contract the virus through food intake? This is what the World Health Organisation (WHO) had to say on the matter: “There is currently no evidence that people can catch Covid-19 from food.” The WHO adds that the virus has no way of multiplying in food – it requires a host (an animal or a human) to spread.

But for total peace of mind, give your patrons the opportunity to order online through mobile ordering. Read our guide on mobile PoS for more information on how to implement this service in your restaurant.

Take a look at the integrations that are possible with Pilot Software to enhance your customer experience.

Stay safe and continue creating works of food art out there.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst