Considering about 60% of restaurant occasions are off-premises across all forms — including drive-thru, takeout and delivery — it’s wasn’t shocking to learn that customers were itching for upgrades to consumer-facing technologies.
“The restaurant industry is constantly changing and technology’s role in it continues to become more critical,” Hudson Riehle, National Restaurant Association SVP of research and knowledge, said regarding a study published Oct. 2 by the association and Technomic. “Now in our centennial year, we are seeing the industry change and adapt faster than ever before in response to the macro-environmental factors driving consumer behavior. In today’s on-demand world, off-premises capabilities are more important than ever to keep restaurants aligned with the wants and needs of its customers.
The study found that:
* 92% of consumers used drive-thru at least once a month.
* 34% used delivery more than they did a year ago.
* 79% used restaurant delivery at least once a month, with about 53% of those via third-party apps.
* 78% of operators considered off-premises programs strategic priorities.
As a result of those customer behavior and operational priority factors, restaurateurs are investing heavily in tech but still have trouble keeping pace with the latest consumer “wants” or “needs.” The study, however, found that operators are wise to consider the increased standard of convenience in other industries and adapt accordingly when implementing off-premises solutions.
Key investment statistics included:
* 74% were investing in off-premises programs, though none of the top-five investments was customer-facing tech.
* Though 43% of delivery users ordered via restaurant apps, only 18% of operators offered that function via a brand’s own app.
* 66% of operators offered delivery through a third-party service.
* 55% offered delivery through internal staff.
The future of off-premises is far-reaching. Consumer receptiveness to enhanced restaurant technology extends both inside and outside the operation, and technology is becoming more commonplace. Key areas of emerging technology include:
* 22% of consumers used kiosk ordering last year.
* 11% used voice-assistant ordering.
* 69% of consumers would use vehicles with built-in heating trays, if offered, to keep food warm.
* 41% would use autonomous delivery.
* 44% of restaurant operators who offered voice ordering, and 50% who offered location intelligence to target new customers based on their position, said it had a large positive impact on their business.