Yelp is doing its part to help small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The company has promised to update its iOS and Android apps next week with a "contact-free" delivery option at checkout, thanks in part to its partnership with Grubhub. It's also working on "new functionality" that will allow business owners to signal through the app that customers can still order food for takeout, delivery or both.
In addition, Yelp is committing $25 million to help small restaurants and bars that are struggling financially due to the public's social distancing. The funding will come "primarily" in the form of free advertising, products and services, however, rather than pure cash. Yelp said it will give restaurants with delivery or takeout options $100 in free search advertising. The company has also promised "support for independent local advertisers in other categories that are struggling to pay their bills during this difficult time."
Yelp is giving restaurants and nightlife businesses access to premium Yelp page features, too. These include Business Highlights, a section that allows owners to add labels such as "vegetarian-friendly," "locally-owned & operated" and "X years in operation" with small but eye-catching iconography. Restaurant owners will also be granted Call to Action buttons, which can take customers directly to an order form, coupon, or external site, and Yelp Connect, an Instagram-style post format that appears on their business page and, for appropriate customers, the app's home screen and a personalised weekly email.
Finally, restaurant owners will be allows to create a banner alert with a custom message on their page. They'll also be given tools that clearly explain if they're closed temporarily or have simply adjusted their hours.
For a three-month period, restaurant owners will also have access to Yelp Reservations and Waitlist, a pair of intertwined services that allow restaurant owners to take bookings online and on their personal site, as well as set up custom floor plans, track walk-ins and manage a waitlist.
Yelp isn't the only company trying to help the restaurant business. Grubhub has temporarily suspended its commission fees for independent restaurants nationwide, and Uber Eats has waived delivery fees for over 100,000 business across the US and Canada. Many business, including Postmates and Instacart, have already added no-contact delivery options, too.