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Restaurants: Positive trends in China

Published May 6, 2020

According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus began in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. After varying measures of quarantine, China has opened its economy again with the Hubei province being the last to open on April 8th—albeit with strict social distancing and other precautions still in place to help prevent a surge in new cases.

Turning to technology and big data as they emerge from the crisis, China has created a color-coded, QR code-based smartphone app to allow citizens to more freedom to move about. Users answer a number of questions including travel history and health status, and are then assigned a color. Green means they’re able to travel around the city freely; the government then uses geo-location data to track their movements and whether they come into contact with an infected person.

As the country sees faster recovery and fewer deaths, China’s economy is beginning to make a recovery. The restaurant industry is, too—with some changes.


Delivery and takeaway business is booming

According to Meituan, a leading Chinese food delivery company, the Chinese restaurant industry is working to recover in part by initiating contactless delivery. In some cases, the restaurant attaches a stack of cards listing the temperatures of everyone who worked on the food. A bike courier avoids contact with others during the commute, and the bike is disinfected often. Once they reach an agreed-upon meeting place, they leave the food. Meituan said, in Wuhan, 95% of customers are using the contactless service option.

They also said contactless delivery has actually led to a shortage of couriers, reporting a 300% increase in orders versus this time last year. Meituan said 10% of these are from outside the city, meaning friends and family are ordering food for their loved ones.


“Meituan, the leading Chinese food delivery company (it works with 5.9 million retailers and employs 700,000 couriers), has seen an enormous uptick in food delivery, not just for meals, but for groceries as well. Many of those meal orders have been enough food to feed several people, a rarity in China where food delivery is usually reserved for people eating alone.”


Dine-in restaurants are slowly reopening as restrictions ease. However, consumers are slow in returning to their old habits as a result of financial caution and a fear of crowds. International restaurants and franchises are also facing the problem of a disrupted supply chain, which makes it hard to get “foreign” ingredients they frequently use.

Once they have approval to open their dine-in services, restaurants have to go through a series of health procedures, such as issuing masks to employees every four hours, conducting frequent temperature checks, ensuring safe distances between tables and clearing customers from the restaurants every two hours for a full disinfection at some locations.


Restaurants get creative to keep running

The New York Times reports some restaurants are offering free snacks and coupons to encourage diners to return to their in-house options. In Chongqing, over the weekend, it reported restaurants “were inundated with customers.”

China also got creative to keep their employees working, according to the Harvard Business Review who reported, “In response to a severe decline in revenue, more than 40 restaurants, hotels, and cinema chains optimized their staffing to free up a large share of their workforces.

"They then helped secure work for those employees with Hema, a “new retail” supermarket chain owned by Alibaba, which was in urgent need of labor for delivery services due to the sudden increase in online purchases. O2O players, including Ele, Meituan, and JD’s 7Fresh followed this lead by also borrowing labor from restaurants.”

For more resources and information about the coronavirus, please visit NCR VOYIX’s coronavirus response resources page.


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