MANILA -- Ordering food online is fast becoming the norm in the country as many Filipinos continue to stay home amid quarantines imposed because of the novel coronavirus.
GrabFood Philippines country head EJ Dela Vega said demand for online delivery on their platform has tripled during the first two weeks of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as most establishments were unable to serve dine-in customers.
"It is a very knee-jerk reaction and yet it continues to be a sustained observation for us. A lot of people continue to order online," he said in a Facebook live session with Unilever Food Solutions PH on Wednesday.
The sudden jump in demand was not immediately accommodated, said Dela Vega, noting most of their GrabFood drivers chose to stay off the roads during the first few weeks of the lockdown out of fear of the virus -- which he said was "totally understandable."
"We did an internal survey with our delivery partners, for those that have gone offline — 90% of them have said they have gone offline due to fear of the virus. This has caused a fairly severe drop in our ability to fulfill orders," he said.
"To mitigate this, 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, we've seen more and more drivers are back on the road to serve customers," he added.
While the first two insights are not at all surprising, Dela Vega noted another observation among GrabFood users amid the lockdown -- they are ordering "a lot more food."
He said that they have seen an increase in average check sizes by 20%.
"People are at home and with their families, maybe they are ordering food for one meal, or for more people. We noticed that people were ordering about 20% more," he said.
Dela Vega believes that things "will not go exactly back to normal" once the ECQ is lifted, saying that "customers will always have the stigma of the virus until there is true peace of mind, like a vaccine."
Despite this, he considers the rise of food delivery services as a silver lining, saying these can help restaurants and other establishments rise from the crisis.
"We need to be there with our merchant partners to help influence the rebound of business once the pandemic is over," he said. "We expect food delivery to still be a very strong driver for business recovery once quarantines are lifted."