The new realities of dining preferences and the technology to take advantage of them
It’s no surprise that online ordering took off in 2020, but two years later, it’s time to take a fresh look at the new realities of the restaurant industry and the technology that powers it. Mobile technology has played a big role in enabling this service and keeping many restaurant businesses afloat, especially for takeout and delivery orders. Flexible ordering options have actually become a staple in the restaurant industry as many customers now expect to be able to place their orders before they arrive.
However, demand for these digital delivery options fell 9% in the first quarter of 2022, while restaurant visits increased by 38 percent. And despite the slight drop in deliveries, online orders for in-person and take-out orders remained stable. Diners missed the experience of sharing a meal in person. While the return to in-person dining is great, customers are still expecting the modern, convenient and personalized experience they’ve become accustomed to over the past two years.
Culinary trends evolve and we observe them in real time. For restaurants to thrive during this evolution, operators must accept that convenience and experience matter most to customers. The right technology can help them execute this to drive traffic and sales for both takeaways and restaurants.
Dining experiences matter to restaurant-goers
The success factors in the restaurant industry have always been good food, a comfortable atmosphere and customer service. These experiences are the pillars of customer loyalty, foot traffic and spend. However, as diners return to restaurants, they often face reduced staffing, higher prices and longer waits as many operators reduce menu items, available tables and opening hours. ‘opening.
While that doesn’t sound like an ideal scenario, it hasn’t deterred customers from flocking to their favorite restaurants. In fact, according to a recent industry reportthe opposite has happened, as customers are willing to pay more when dining out and are willing to spend for an upscale experience.
Armed with this knowledge, many savvy restaurateurs are leveraging technology such as pay-at-table options, digital reservations and check-ins, and text-to-pay features to provide diners with the desired experience. This infusion of technology has become a win-win solution: operators can free up staff to better meet customer demands and protect (in some cases increase) their revenue, and customers can have fun. So, regardless of the recent change, restaurants using the right technologies to meet high customer needs will remain in high demand and success during this change in weather.
Online ordering still has a role to play in maximizing restaurant profits
Restaurants recognize that the ability to deliver modern customer experiences will only grow in importance in the future. But with inflationary pressures and industry-wide challenges like staffing shortages, many operators are also redirecting resources to more cost-effective efforts, including embracing digital options for take-out orders. But for some businesses, the usefulness of online ordering for their operations may not be clear.
Although searches for takeout were down 31% in the first quarter of 2022, customers still appreciate the service, as searches for takeout are up 144% from 2019. Despite the vibe and perks In-person dining socials, customers still care about the comfort and convenience of ordering food online. Customers have grown accustomed to having the ability to place an order digitally and have it ready for pickup when they arrive. In fact, some businesses have cut out calls and failed to route all takeout orders through a website or app.
Where diners dine in are willing to pay extra for desired experiences, online ordering systems allow customers to avoid many of the time constraints of entering a restaurant. For businesses themselves, ordering online can generate greater revenue and “keep the lights on” as many people are ready to order more items online from the comfort of their homes.
Theatrical and online orders play a key role in increasing sales and traffic
At the heart of this industry, catering enthusiasts want fast and efficient interactions. Whether customers are dining in or ordering online, technology has influenced customer preferences and spending habits towards businesses that can deliver these experiences. Every restaurant business is feeling the impact of post-pandemic life and the current fight against inflation. However, operators implementing the right technology to satisfy both take-out and dine-in customers can strengthen their business to withstand the next change in customer preferences or economic conditions.
The global restaurant industry has already recognized this trend, with the value of the food technology market reaching $220.32 billion. These digital tools help restaurants keep up with changing dining preferences and allow them to respond to changing customer needs. With increased competition and seemingly permanent changes in consumer behavior, the adoption and evolution of these services will increase.
Jon Squire is the CEO and co-founder of MapFree. He has over 20 years of business, marketing and product development experience in financial services and emerging technologies. Jon founded CardFree in 2012 with a vision to fill a gap in the market for an integrated commerce platform for large merchants. Jon constantly drove innovation and created world-class product offerings in new categories. He launched the nation’s first mobile P2P offering in partnership with Sprint and PayPal and is well known for his cutting-edge work with NFC, barcodes and alternative technologies that integrate with the point of sale. Earlier in his career, he also led mobile payment/e-commerce initiatives for Wells Fargo and led E*TRADE consulting services.