Demand for GrabFood’s online delivery has tripled in the first two weeks of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). This is according to the company’s country head EJ Dela Vega, who had a Facebook Live interview with Unilever Food Solutions PH last April 15. He observed that Pinoys have ordered “a lot more food.”
Elaborating, he said, “With every order placed on the platform, we noticed that average check sizes were up by around 20%. People are at home and with their families, maybe they are ordering for more than one meal, or obviously for more people.
“But we noticed that people were ordering about 20% more for every order that they get delivered.”
The ECQ took effect on March 16, and is extended up to the end of April to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the country
With everyone forced to stay home, and with food establishments opting to close down or offer mostly take-out meals, people have turned to ordering meals online.
While the “rapid jump in demand” for the delivery services is good for the company, Dela Vega said it has also presented a big problem. He explained that many of their driver-partners are not available to make the deliveries.
“Totally understandably, a lot of driver-partners who were online in the past have chosen to stay off the roads due to fear of the virus. We did an internal survey with our delivery partners, and we found out that almost 90% of them are choosing to stay offline, saying that they are offline due to fear of the virus. This has caused a fairly severe drop in our ability to fulfill orders.”
Dela Vega, however, assures the public that the company has come up with a solution to the problem.
“We are doing a lot of things as well to mitigate that. We have enlisted the help of our four-wheel drivers, those who are in the transport business who have motorcycles or bicycles. And since the announcement of the ECQ, week on week, we’ve been seeing more and more drivers back on the road, willing to serve customers as we help provide sources of income for them also.”
Dela Vega speculates that consumers will likely do more cooking at home than eat in restaurants after the ECQ is lifted.
He said, “Things will not go exactly back to normal once public transportation is reinstated or once a lot of our previously restricted activities are allowed back in. Customers will always have the stigma of the virus until there is true peace of mind, whether that means a vaccine is developed or just simply wiped out, fingers crossed. Until that happens, people are still going to be wary and people are still going to consider safety as their primary consideration.”
As for GrabFood, Dela Vega said their platform hopes to help restaurants and other establishments rise from the ongoing crisis.
"We need to be there with our merchant partners to help influence the rebound of business once this pandemic is over. People are not likely to go back to exactly what their lifestyles were before the onset of the virus.
"We, in particular, expect food delivery to still be a very strong driver for business recovery once quarantines and lockdowns are lifted.”
On March 17, GrabFood, along with another food delivery service, Foodpanda, temporarily suspended its operations in compliance with the ECQ guidelines.
After a discussion with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), GrabFood and Foodpanda announced the resumption of their services later that day.
Food, after all, is a basic need, and food delivery, a basic service.