More restaurant chains and fast-casual eateries are investing heavily in digital technology for food ordering and delivery. Consumers like the convenience and speed of ordering and paying for meals using social, mobile and digital media.

Many restaurants are shifting 30% to 90% of their marketing budgets to developing digital platforms.[1] They are less focused on traditional digital spending for search engine optimization (SEO), digital banners and display ads. Instead, marketing funds are being channeled to ordering and delivery functions using smartphone apps, office communications platforms, digital marketplaces and social media platforms.

Although the majority of delivery orders are placed using a computer, consumers are increasingly turning to mobile apps. Combined, the use of the internet, mobile apps and text messages to place food orders represents 1.9 billion visits or 3% of total restaurant business.[2]

Time-challenged consumers are the biggest fans of digital ordering. Families are the heaviest users with their dinner orders accounting for 50% of dinner-time traffic. Most digital orders are placed by consumers under age 35 and by those with higher household incomes.[3] Coupons and special deals entice consumers to use the digital platform and account for 29% of digital orders.[4]

Some examples of new digital ordering, delivery and payment platforms include:[5]

  • Facebook, with 2.1 billion active users, offers food ordering for Chipotle, Denny’s, Five Guys, Jack in the Box and other chain restaurants and fast-casual dining brands.
  • Snapchat’s 158 million users can use Context Cards to swipe on to messages from restaurants and access affinity programs and ordering functions.
  • The office communication platform Slack has 6 million daily users and offers office workers access to digital ordering for Taco Bell and Domino’s Pizza.
  • Amazon’s Alexa will take voice orders for its Amazon Restaurants partners and arrange food delivery and payment using consumers’ Amazon Prime and Amazon Pay accounts. TGIF Fridays is one of the first chains to partner with Amazon to enable consumers to order and purchase meals using Alexa and Amazon Pay.[6]

[1] “Does modern convenience trump loyalty?” by Ron Ruggless, Nation’s Restaurant News, Nov. 20, 2017. Available at: http://www.nrn.com/technology/does-modern-convenience-trump-loyalty

[2] “Tapping into the power of mobile apps,” by Fern Glazer, Restaurant Hospitality, Feb. 27, 2017. Available at: http://www.restaurant-hospitality.com/consumer-trends/tapping-power-mobile-apps

[3] “Digital Foodservice Ordering Continues Double-Digit Growth in U.S. and Now Accounts for 1.9 Billion Foodservice Visits,” press release issued by The NPD Group, March 6, 2017. Available at: https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/2017/digital-foodservice-ordering-continues-double-digit-growth-in-us-and-now-accounts-for-19-billion-foodservice-visits/

[4] “Tapping into the power of mobile apps,” by Fern Glazer, Restaurant Hospitality, Feb. 27, 2017. Available at: http://www.restaurant-hospitality.com/consumer-trends/tapping-power-mobile-apps

[5] “Does modern convenience trump loyalty?” by Ron Ruggless, Nation’s Restaurant News, Nov. 20, 2017. Available at: http://www.nrn.com/technology/does-modern-convenience-trump-loyalty

[6] “TGI Fridays expands Amazon partnership,” by Ron Ruggless, Nation’s Restaurant News, Nov. 30, 2017. Available at: http://www.nrn.com/technology/tgi-fridays-expands-amazon-partnership

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