The National Restaurant Association recently reported that based on research results, the U.S. restaurant industry – which consists of 970,000 employing 12.9 million people with $632 billion in sales – has seen increased interest in restaurant technologies that assist consumers. These include electronic payments, online and mobile ordering, web resources and social media. The benefits of these solutions are twofold: they make life easier for restaurant employees and they add value to the dining experience for consumers.
In general, restaurateurs are aware of these trends, but aren’t sure how much significance they have. It’s hard for them to know where exactly they stand. The results of the NRA study show just how widespread they are or will be in the future.
Electronic payment through an online platform, especially in restaurants that deliver, can provide convenience to customers. Instead of having to pay at the point of sale (POS) terminal, they can pay at home or at the table.
Consumers value this convenience and innovation as part of their restaurant experience; more than half of consumers (52 percent) would use an electronic payment system if available. And restaurateurs anticipate implementing the technology in the near future; more than half of restaurants (55 percent) say electronic payment systems will become more popular.
Today’s consumers live in a very digital world – they don’t want to be confined to stationary technology because they are used to being able to accomplish just about any task using their smartphone or tablet. For that reason, online and mobile ordering solutions are gaining ground in the hospitality industry. They provide convenience to both restaurant employees and customers.
Numbers don’t lie:
- 41 percent of consumers would use a self-service ordering terminal if available
- 39 percent would use an electronic ordering system if available
- 36 percent have placed an order online
- 82 percent of quick service restaurants say online and smartphone ordering will become more popular
- 56 percent of quick service restaurants say self-ordering terminals will become more popular
- 40 percent of full service restaurants say electronic ordering systems will become more popular
Without a restaurant website, restaurants have a hard time spreading brand awareness. A website allows potential customers to do more than just find directions or phone numbers, they can also peruse the menu, read reviews or look up nutrition information.
They view restaurant websites as a useful tool in their dining process, which begins before they have even set foot inside the building. That’s why more than half of consumers (61 percent) have visited a restaurant website and more than one-third of consumers (36 percent) have looked up nutrition information online.
Old marketing methods like newspaper ads and TV commercials simply aren’t cutting it anymore. That’s why more and more restaurants are using social media to effectively connect with their tech-savvy customers.
Consumers are using social media more and more to enhance their restaurant experience. And restaurants are recognizing the need for social media to improve their marketing and reach a wider audience. Most restaurateurs (9 in 10) say social media will become more important marketing tools. Almost all restaurateurs (95 percent) say they will be on Facebook in the next two years, and three-fourths (78 percent) say they will be on Twitter.
And it’s not just the traditional social media that consumers are turning to for interaction. In addition to the 3 in 10 consumers use social media like Facebook and Twitter to choose a restaurant, 4 in 10 use group-buying offers through programs like LivingSocial and Groupon to choose a restaurant and nearly 3 in 10 consumers have viewed or posted reviews on consumer-driven sites like Yelp.
Has your restaurant implemented any of these technologies yet?