The COVID-19 pandemic has throttled restaurants’ revenues as social distancing protocols, stay-at-home orders and dine-in bans have forced eateries to rely solely on pickup and delivery to stay in business. Many states have begun to relax their social distancing orders and allow restaurants to resume business in a limited fashion, but mobile ordering continues to play a critical role in their revenue streams.
Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) continue to face old threats during the outbreak, too, as social media fraud and fake reviews run largely unchecked. Scammers pose as restaurants on social media and attempt to defraud customers of their personal data, for example, and fake reviews drive customers away from restaurants’ mobile apps.
The June Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker® explores the latest digital ordering developments, including the new dine-in eating rules aimed at avoiding the spread of COVID-19, how restaurants are working to identify and remove fake reviews and how some eateries are disguising their true identities on mobile ordering apps to expand their customer bases.
Restaurants across the United States are reopening as dozens of states relax their social distancing guidelines and dine-in eating bans. Alaska and Georgia were the first to do so in May, although significant restrictions remain in states that are reopening. Restaurants are allowed to operate only at half capacity to encourage social distancing, and staff are required to wear gloves and face masks to limit the potential spread of infection.
Contactless curbside pickup has become popular amid the pandemic, with QSR employees depositing customers’ orders in their cars without any face-to-face interactions. The most recent QSR chain to embrace this option is Panera Bread, which now offers customers two options to pick up their orders. The first consists of a geofencing system that tracks customers’ smartphones and alerts Panera staff when they have arrived, while the second requires customers to enter their vehicle details so staff can identify them, and then texting when they have arrived to pick up their orders.
Other restaurants are just beginning to offer mobile ordering services. Family entertainment and pizza chain Chuck E. Cheese was recently added to Grubhub under the pseudonym “Pasqually's Pizza & Wings,” for example. The move was only discovered by a Philadelphia customer noticing that the ghost restaurant shared an address with a local Chuck E. Cheese location. A Chuck E. Cheese spokesperson confirmed that the name is derived from Pasqually P. Pieplate, the name of the fictional animatronic chef that is part of Chuck E. Cheese’s band.
For more on these stories and other mobile order-ahead news items, download this month’s Tracker.
QSRs Protect Their Digital Reputations Against Fraudulent Reviews
Many QSRs have shifted their operations online due to social distancing orders, resulting in a lack of face-to-face interactions with customers. This, in turn, has led customers to rely more heavily on online reviews to gauge restaurants’ reputations, but as many as one-fifth of these reviews could be fake. In this month’s Feature Story, PYMNTS talked with Scott Lawton, co-founder of QSR chain bartaco, about how QSRs can counter fake reviews’ negative effects by maintaining direct lines of communication to customers via email and social media messages.
Online reviews are a key driver of restaurant revenue, with one-third of customers saying that they avoid eateries with ratings of less than four stars. Social media is just as vital to driving business, with 72 percent of customers reporting that they have used Facebook to decide where to eat. Both of these channels are plagued with fraud, however, including fake reviews and phishing scams on social media. This month’s Deep Dive explores how restaurants can identify fake reviews and have them removed, and how they can educate their customers to spot impostors on social media.
About The Tracker
The monthly Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker®, a PYMNTS and Kount collaboration, offers coverage of the most recent news and trends and a provider directory highlighting key players across the mobile order-ahead ecosystem.