One trend emerging from this COVID-19 pandemic is startups that once connected restaurants with food supply companies are pivoting into direct consumers sales. DineMarket is the latest entrant we’ve come across in the category: the company launched its own D2C marketplace earlier this month.
Since 2011, DineMarket had been a service for restaurants to buy food and other supplies from wholesalers in the New York area. As the pandemic spread and New York shut down for sheltering in place, DineMarket changed up its business so consumers can buy and get home delivery from these restaurant suppliers.
DineMarket is the third such restaurant supplier marketplace making this type of shift that we’ve written about in the past month. Both Pepper and Choco offer similar services, also in the New York City area.
It’s not hard to see why so many restaurant-supplier services are making the consumer transition, as it’s a win-win. Suppliers, which can’t sell to restaurants at the moment, open up a new revenue stream, can keep at least some of their people employed and prevent all those perishables from going to waste.
These supplier selling marketplaces also provide another avenue for people to grocery shop online at a time when traditional retailers are struggling to keep up with the sudden crush of new e-commerce orders. Amazon is waitlisting new Fresh and Whole Foods customers, getting a FreshDirect slot in NYC has been like playing the lottery, and Instacart is bringing on another 250,000 of its shoppers nationally to keep up. Adding new sales channels like restaurant suppliers can help ease those strains and provide a means for people to get food delivered.
I’m curious to see what happens with these services once shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted. We’re already seeing restaurants re-open (albeit in a diminished, socially distant capacity) in some parts of the country. New York’s shelter-in-place order expires on May 15, though it will probably be extended for NYC. But if suppliers are finding good money in the consumer market, and consumers get hooked on buying restaurant quality food for their homes, perhaps the divide between B2B and D2C will become more permeable.