Since consumers, particularly millennials and Gen Z, are especially digitally savvy, there is a growing expectation that restaurants must adopt new technologies to offer better in-store and online experiences. This expectation is most pronounced when it comes to placing orders. A recent market survey found that 39% of quick-serve guests placed their meal orders using a smartphone app. This represents a significant increase from 2015 when ordering by the mobile device was only 11%. This same report found that 28% used a kiosk and 27% used a tablet to place their order.
Successful restaurants recognize that the easy path to their customers’ stomachs begins in their minds. They need to grab customer’s attention and entice them with a memorable experience in order to trigger repeat visits. Tools such as digital signage deliver eye-catching graphics to engage customers the moment they walk through the door. Gift cards, also known as branded currency, is now presenting new sales growth opportunities for quick-service restaurants while enhancing customer loyalty and reducing the overall cost of payments. Online reservations using mobile app & flexibility of customization of the menu as per customer taste is also a popular trend in the industry to deliver a personalized experience to the diner.
Other forms of technology that support payment using the customer’s voice have also been found to improve the customer overall dining experience. According to Barclaycard, 37% of diners prioritize quick service in restaurants over menu or value for money, meaning that convenient payment options are becoming increasingly popular. Restaurant Business says that voice could be the next step, reporting that several San Francisco-based eateries are already experimenting with a Google-supported system involving voice and facial recognition. Instead of asking for the bill and manually paying, all diners will need to say is “I’ll pay with Google” before being automatically charged.
A common form of technology whose importance is being overlooked is websites. 57% of restaurant customers have stated to view a restaurants website before selecting where to dine. Before customers visit a restaurant, they want to know what other guests thought of it. 84% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Websites have been the proven way for restaurants to build trust in their brand by displaying authentic testimonials from real-life customers.
In conjunction with websites, branded mobile apps are an essential emerging technology in the restaurant industry. Research has shown that orders placed via smartphone and mobile apps will become a billion industry in 2020. Another article states that 43% of consumers say that offering mobile ordering programs would encourage them to use online ordering services more often. The reason that branded restaurant apps are so impactful on the restaurant industry (and in many, if not all, other customer-facing industries) is that they can do so much and provide a ton of benefits to both customers and restaurant owners. Mobile apps offer the opportunity for a restaurant to better target potential diners with location-based push notifications and coupons/offers and improve client retention and diner frequency with app-based loyalty programs. They can offer a new, convenient channel for customers to place online orders for pickup or delivery with new payment options that allow customers to pay with their mobile device, instead of their wallets.