Chart: Food Delivery App Users, 2019-2023

eMarketer forecasts that the number of smartphone food delivery app users will rise 25.2% to 45.6 million this year.

The company expects that figure to decrease slightly in 2021, to 44.1 million, as restaurants likely reopen to indoor diners.

They also anticipate continued adoption of these apps throughout our forecast period ending in 2023, when the number of users will be 53.9 million.

Companies like Grubhub and Uber Eats have seen an influx of usage during the pandemic. In its most recent earnings, Grubhub reported that the number of active diners grew to 27.5 million in Q2 2020 from 20.3 million in Q2 2019—an increase of 35%. Read the rest at eMarketer.

Fast Food Retooling For Mobile Orders

Taco Bell is placing a much greater emphasis on driving, literally, more mobile orders. The fast food chain has begun retooling it’s physical locations to accomodate higher demand for orders placed through its app and picked up via the drive-through lane.

I discussed this on a recent episode of my Beyond Social Media Show podcast.

Taco Bell Goes Mobile

David Erickson: This is a CNBC article by Amelia Lucas about Taco Bell. Restaurants are adjusting to the–I got a gnat in my face–restaurants are adjusting to the new pandemic crap. And they’re thinking long term now.

Taco Bell To-Go Sales

David Erickson: Taco Bell has reported second quarter earnings and it served an additional 4.8 million cars through their drive-through lanes compared to a year earlier, even as their same-store sales have declined 8 percent. So you see obviously the behavior is shifting and they understand that. They are redesigning their restaurants in light of our plague-filled future. They clearly think it’s going to last and so they’re redesigning the restaurants.

Taco Bell’s New Mobile Formats

David Erickson: The new format includes two drive-through lanes, one is devoted to mobile ordering. It includes pickup shelves. So you can order online–which I do all the time–and then go to the store and pick it up. Just walk into the store, grab your order off the shelf and go. And then curbside pickup. So they’ve got parking spots devoted for curbside pickup.

Taco Bell Go Mobile

David Erickson: The format’s intended to push their customers to order food ahead on the mobile app in order to keep the drive-through lines short. There are going to be two company-owned–there are franchises of Taco Bell’s, obviously–two company-owned locations that will use the new design.

Streamlined Technology

David Erickson: They’re expected to open in the first three months of next year. It’s kitchens will include technology that tells workers the fastest way to make the order, communicates to customers the easiest way to pick up food, and they’re gamifying it. So customers who choose the suggested method for picking up foods will get more points for their Taco Bell Loyalty Program. I, obviously, will not be able to take advantage of that because I will never eat at Taco Bell. But, um–

BL Ochman: I was waiting for that. Like, the food is horrible.

David Erickson: It is. But it is an indication of what the restaurant industry is dealing with and understanding. You know, they do their research, they make their decisions based on on sound data. They anticipate that this is not going away anytime soon. So they’re reconfiguring their businesses to accommodate the new abnormal.

New York City Restaurants

BL Ochman: Well, equally so: I live in New York City and we don’t have cars. And so there are pickup windows at restaurants but there are tables in the street; they’re under like awning-type things. But who’s going to do that in December and January and February? And so when it’s 95 degrees out, who wants to sit outside? And the buses are going by and the garbage trucks are going by and people who’ve already been hit by cars while they were sitting and eating in the street.

So, you know, I don’t see how restaurants can survive in New York City in the long run, and so many are gone already. And, you know, you want to support them. But on the other hand, I’m not sitting on Second Avenue, you know, right next to the bus lane, and having my dinner. So it’s a really hard problem.

Can Downtown Restaurants Survive?

David Erickson: Yeah. In past episodes, I’ve talked about that. I think the restaurant industry is going to the suburbs, because there’s just more room.

BL Ochman: Yeah.

David Erickson: You can’t have the social distancing that’s required now in restaurants.

BL Ochman: It started with the tables apart, but they’re getting closer. You know, like people are sneaking them a little closer every day. So–

David Erickson: Well, that’s the only thing you can control. That’s what I don’t trust, is the customers.

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