While our industry has been significantly wounded, the innovation, creativity, and sheer survival instincts we’ve seen in our customers is incredibly inspiring. Looking at data from our nearly 10,000 US-based customers, we saw that a handful of restaurants were not only surviving but meeting or exceeding pre-COVID-19 sales levels despite having zero dine-in revenue. Below we dig into the Online Ordering trends we’re seeing in our data, along with stories from customers who have been able to return to nearly 100% of pre-COVID-19 sales.

Adoption of Restaurant Online Ordering is growing

  • From February to April, a 169% increase in restaurants using online ordering.
  • This is not a regional or urban trend. We are seeing an uptick in online orders in all types of geographic areas. In large suburbs, online ordering has grown by 3,868% since February.
  • In February, Online Ordering represented 1.5% of total sales volume for WaitBusters restaurants now using our online ordering platform. By early April, Online Ordering represented 43% of total sales volume for restaurants with Online Ordering enabled.
  • Because dine-in service is restricted nationally, the remainder of sales at those stores were processed through 3rd party delivery aggregators and direct-to-restaurant communication (phone, email, Instagram).

Restaurants already doing Online Ordering fared better in the first weeks of the dining ban

  • Many restaurants who already offered online ordering pre-COVID were able to avoid having to close altogether, saving them up to a month’s worth of revenue. While they did see a drop in sales, they did not ever experience a 100% revenue loss.
  • Because restaurants that used online ordering pre-COVID were able to skip the rush to enable, onboard, set up a menu, and spread the word to diners, they were uniquely prepared to capture customers during the first waves of social distancing.

Most popular menu items of restaurants recovering from the Coronavirus Pandemic

  • Stores with close to pre-COVID sales numbers have more “COVID” related items on their menu like gift cards, family meals, and beverages (likely alcohol).
  • Across restaurants, we’re also seeing gift cards, alcoholic beverages, and meals for 2 or 4 are trending upwards.
  • Building your online guest experience is more than just creating a list of item names.

Takeout surpasses delivery during Coronavirus Pandemic

  • WaitBusters has seen that for sales through Online Ordering, takeout orders are far more popular than delivery orders, and this popularity has been increasing since COVID began. While delivery orders represented 32% of all online orders in February, as of April 20, delivery only accounts for 14% of online orders.
  • This may be due to restaurants pivoting quickly to online ordering without lining up delivery partners. It may also suggest that restaurants are processing more delivery orders through third parties.