How to Help Customers Concerned with COVID-19

Cathy Novelli

Posted by: Cathy Novelli / March 11, 2020

The fear is real. The uncertainty around COVID-19 has caused people to rethink everyday behaviors. From whether or not to work from home or to go on that vacation you’ve been planning for months, to everyday errands like grocery shopping or going out to eat…every consumer and every brand is feeling the impact of COVID-19.



According to Technomics, “more than 3 in 10 consumers say they plan on leaving the house less, will not go to restaurants as often or will decrease how much they order food or beverages from away-from-home venues. And among those who say they will not go to a restaurant as often, 31% say that decreased frequency will last for between one and three months. It is interesting to note that only 13% believe that they will order more via restaurant delivery because of the crisis.”

Additionally, Oppenheimer analyst Jason Helfstein believes that the coronavirus outbreak could lead to “tailwinds” for the food-delivery business. “Given more people are working from home and the potential to shy away from crowded restaurants, food delivery companies should benefit from an uptick in order frequency.” 

Rakuten Ready dug in a layer deeper and surveyed 112 consumers, to measure how behaviors around dining has, or is anticipated to change, and this is what we heard:

As you can see, most diners are not overly fearful, with 57% making no change to their dining behaviors. 17% said they were just avoiding dining-in (opting to pick-up or have food delivered), with the majority of respondents leaning toward Ordering for Pickup over delivery


Big Box Retailers and Grocers are some of the few who have felt an actual boost in business, as a result of COVID-19. Millions have reacted by stockpiling items they believe to protect them, as well as staples, i.e. toilet paper (products most often produced in China), they fear may no longer be available soon, with import restrictions tightening.
That initial boost, however, may not be so long term. As everyday errands are reconsidered, things like being in a crowded grocery store/retailer and pushing a [germ-laden] shopping cart around, are more likely to be avoided. The go-to alternative for many customers may be delivery, but there is a better, more profitable alternative for merchants…Order for Pickup.
Here is how retail shopping behavior has/or is anticipated to change, per our consumer research:

Again, the majority of retail consumers we surveyed are not changing their shopping habits too dramatically. While there appears a definite increase in online shopping for pickup and delivery, there also appears to be an anticipated 25% decrease in overall retail/grocery shopping in coming weeks.

Order for Pickup helps to alleviate consumer concern with communal virus-spreading, while also providing merchants with a more profitable revenue channel (vs in-store and delivery). 
TIPS: How to Help Customers Concerned with COVID-19

  1. Continue to do everything you can to prevent the community spread of COVID-19.
  2. Begin communicating to your customers (marketing), IMMEDIATELY, that Order for Pickup is a lower risk and faster alternative to in-store shopping or dining-in.
  3. Do everything you can to make the digital Order for Pickup channel a smooth and seamless experience for your customers:
    1. Before Pickup: Let them know exactly how, when and where to pick  up order up
    2. At Pickup: 
      1. Make signage clear to direct customers toward Order for Pickup stations
      2. Dedicate employees to fulfill Pickup orders
      3. Scale training (across all locations) for Pickup orders
      4. Measure effectiveness and efficiencies of your Order for Pickup channel
  4. For more consultation, don’t hesitate to reach out to Rakuten Ready for support.

Your key takeaway? Order for Pickup can actually help manage COVID-19 fears while also helping to improve a merchants’ struggling bottom line.
How is Order for Pickup the most profitable?

Earlier this week, Rakuten Ready launched our 2020 ROI Study, which models out growth + revenue optimization opportunities, by channel. To learn more about why Order for Pickup is not only good for worried customers, but also your bottom line, access the 2020 ROI Study HERE.