Like most Americans, Nathaniel Whittle of Texas was affected by the Coronavirus pandemic in a multitude of ways. Mr. Whittle, in his spare-time away from the office began driving with the food delivery service, DoorDash. In the following article, Nathaniel Whittle discusses the corona-economy and its impact on the restaurant industry and food delivery services
Prior to 2020, it was unusual for restaurants outside of the Chinese takeout/pizza delivery model to deliver orders directly to a customer’s home. Yet, as with most industries, COVID-19 restrictions revolutionized how restaurants could operate, helping to cement a culture of easy-access and wide-ranging food delivery apps. Today, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub lead the food delivery market and successfully serve millions of Americans nationwide.
Although food delivery may seem commonplace now, it wasn’t a smooth or straightforward transformation. To understand how these three apps became such large players in the food service industry, Nathaniel Whittle of Texas looks back at the early days of the pandemic and explores how social distancing forced restaurants to innovate in the face of financial ruin.
Many Restaurants Were Left with Little Choice
The early days of the pandemic were characterized by widespread panic and a general sense of unease. Businesses were forced to shutter their doors, leaving millions of Americans out of work, and the restaurant industry was no exception explains Nathaniel Whittle of Texas.
In January 2021, just before the Delta strain began to take hold in the United States, the National Restaurant Association estimated that as many as 2.5 million jobs had been lost. Nathaniel Whittle of Texas says that when faced with the prospect of widespread closures, many restaurants were forced to get creative in order to stay afloat.
Some turned to delivery and takeout models that had previously been unpopular, while others pivoted to grocery and prepared food delivery. Still, others found ways to keep their doors open by implementing strict safety protocols.
For many restaurants, food delivery apps offered a lifeline according to Nathaniel Whittle of Texas. These apps provided a way for restaurants to reach customers without having to invest in their own delivery infrastructure. They also allowed customers to order food from a wide range of restaurants without having to leave their homes.
For Drivers, Food Delivery Became a Lifeline in Times of Trouble
Nathaniel Whittle of Texas says that while food delivery apps provided a lifeline for restaurants, they also became a lifeline for drivers. The pandemic left many people out of work, and food delivery offered a way to earn money while adhering to social distancing guidelines. In addition, the flexible nature of food delivery meant that drivers could work around their other commitments.
The popularity of food delivery apps also meant that drivers could find work relatively easily. Although there was (and still is) competition for delivery jobs, the demand for drivers meant that there were always opportunities available explains Nathaniel Whittle of Texas. The circumstances of the pandemic also meant that drivers were able to earn higher wages.
With restaurants struggling to stay afloat, many were willing to pay drivers higher rates for their services. In addition, the increased demand for delivery meant that drivers could be more selective about the orders they accepted, leading to higher earnings. Nathaniel Whittle of Texas says that with so many benefits, and at a time when employers were being laid-off left and right, food delivery stopped being a side-gig and transformed into a full-time position.
Two Years On, Food Delivery Apps are Stronger Than Ever
Even as the pandemic comes to an end, the idea of easily accessible food delivery has gripped the nation and is here to stay according to Nathaniel Whittle of Texas. The convenience and popularity of these apps have made them immensely profitable, and it’s unlikely that their popularity will wane any time soon. Instead, companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub are looking to expand into a global market.
Whether they’ll be able to compete on an international level remains to be seen, especially in nations with longstanding food delivery infrastructures throughout East, South, and Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Regardless of their global reach, t Nathaniel Whittle of Texas says that these companies will continue to grow into more rural regions of the US and are hiring new drivers at a lightning pace.
In 2021 alone, the industry grew to a market volume of $270.3 billion and is projected to continue growing at a rate of 10.39% each year until 2025. At that point, the industry will be worth nearly half a trillion dollars. While there are certainly a few speedbumps preventing higher profit margins—inconsistent quality, decentralized logistics, variable customer loyalty—these businesses are sure to find continued success.
Nathaniel Whittle of Texas says that there’s no denying the COVID-19 pandemic affected the restaurant industry. Rather than sinking into financial ruin, business owners rapidly embraced the latest food delivery technologies, helping to cement their place within the industry. Thanks to widespread popularity and overwhelming demand, these apps have provided a lifeline for drivers and led to the growth of a multi-billion-dollar business model that’s projected to continually grow to new heights.