Findings provide valuable consumer insights which help build better online ordering systems for restaurants
For most modern businesses understanding the consumer is a top priority, if not a requirement for success. This is no different for online ordering companies such as orderTalk, Inc., which must understand the complex needs of both restaurant owners and their patrons to deliver a superior software product. Online food ordering has favorably impacted the revenue and operations of most restaurants, likely more than any other recent innovation. As online ordering continues to reshape consumer expectations and demands, providing the most up-to-date and user-friendly software is critical.
This is how innovative companies that invest in research and development have become an indispensable asset for most multi-unit restaurant chains. As a leading innovator of online ordering systems for restaurants, orderTalk keeps a watchful eye on what American consumers are thinking and doing. Valuable data can be extracted from research tools such as consumer surveys like the one orderTalk recently commissioned with Harris Poll.
Lagging Technology, A Threat to Restaurant Revenues
The survey was completed in April 2017 by sampling 2,246 demographically diverse U.S. adults, and provided valuable insights for the restaurant industry and online ordering product development. The survey found that online ordering is increasingly popular across generations and that lagging technology can be an obstacle to a restaurant’s success. Interestingly, the survey also suggested that many American consumers who have ordered takeout digitally (i.e., via an app/website) prefer ordering takeout digitally, but would like digital ordering interactions to be easier.
Just as dine-in customers want to be served by friendly attentive staff, online consumers want a positive digital interaction. In an attempt to increase business and drive consumer demand, so many restaurants have hastily put in place mediocre online ordering systems that have frustrated would-be customers. These poorly executed strategies achieve the opposite result – driving customers away and directly into the hands of competing restaurant brands.
With 63 percent of those Americans who have ordered digitally admitting to having abandoned a digital takeout order, and more than half of U.S. adults (55 percent) wishing it were easier to order takeout digitally, a restaurant should consider taking an all-or-nothing stance when it comes to online ordering systems.
Reasons cited for abandoning digital orders included poorly functioning websites and/or mobile apps, the inability to customize orders and platforms that are not user friendly. Deficient online ordering systems, according to survey respondents, are a major area of concern within the online ordering industry. That should give restauranteurs pause.
Now more than ever, restaurant companies must invest in innovative solutions and replace aging technologies. The most successful online ordering platforms are comprehensive, simple to navigate and tailored to the complexities of the restaurant industry.
Online Ordering: An American Way of Life
Probing deeper into the survey findings, orderTalk found out just how extraordinarily popular takeout and online ordering has become in America. The statistics show that 94 percent of U.S. adults have ordered takeout and 65 percent order takeout at least once a month. Nearly two thirds of Americans (62 percent) order takeout digitally via an app or website, and of those who have ordered digitally, 67 percent say they prefer to order digitally rather than by phone.
Males, Parents & Home Renters Order Food More Than Their Counterparts
There were also significant differences in online ordering habits by sex and lifestyle. For example, males are more likely than females to order takeout at least once a month (69 percent versus 61 percent); Americans with children under the age of 18 in the home are more likely to order takeout at least once a month than those without children under the age of 18 in the home (77 percent versus 59 percent); and renters are more likely than homeowners to order takeout at least once a month (72 percent versus 62 percent).
Meeting Consumer Expectations
As ordering takeout digitally has become the “way to go,” orderTalk was interested in gaining insight into why people were ordering online and what they expected to see from an online ordering system. The survey found that nearly half Americans who have ordered digitally said they do so because it is easier to make sure an order is correct (46 percent).
More than half (56 percent) of survey respondents said they expected discounts when ordering online. In addition, 52 percent wanted to see images of menu items as a feature. A loyalty program was also an expected feature at 47 percent. Other features mentioned that could make placing an order easier: ability to store favorites (36 percent), storing personal order history (33 percent), one click re-orders (30 percent) and 30 percent also wanted the ability to store their credit card information, hence, making security another important asset to a robust online ordering solution.
As already noted, if a restaurant is going to provide an ordering platform, the site should be simple and comprehensive.
Key Demographics for Online Ordering
As the popularity of ordering food online grows, some demographics present a targeted opportunity for restaurants. The 2017 orderTalk survey found that both millennials and parents of children 18 years and younger in the household were significantly more active than their counterparts in terms of ordering food online.
Millennials: Tech-fanatic, Yet Intolerant of Online Ordering Glitches
It’s no secret that millennials have grown up with technology and are naturally inclined to use it regularly, but the survey results also shed light on the level of frustration they feel towards lagging restaurant online ordering technology. This information is something restaurants shouldn’t ignore when evaluating their current online ordering systems. Millennials are known to convey their likes and dislikes via social media, Yelp reviews and with their wallet.
The findings also reveal that:
· 79 percent of millennials (ages 18-34) have ordered takeout via a website or app, which is 29 percent more than the older U.S. adult population (ages 45+).
· Millennials are 26 percent more likely to wish it were easier to order takeout digitally than Americans ages 45 and older (70 percent versus 44 percent).
· 69 percent of millennials who have ordered takeout digitally have abandoned a digital order, and the most common reason was because the website/app was not functioning properly (35 percent).
· Millennial (18-34) males are more likely than millennial females to order takeout at least once a month (83 percent vs 67 percent).
Busier than Ever, Anticipate Increase in Online Ordering Usage by Parents
While many restaurants focus their online ordering marketing toward the young, tech-savvy generation, the survey results also suggest that parents with children under the age of 18 love the convenience of ordering food online. Findings suggest that this busy and “under-tapped” online revenue source for restaurants is a demographic for restaurants and online ordering companies to monitor closely, with 68 percent of parents somewhat/strongly agree that in the next 12 months they will increase their use of digital ordering.
Other interesting data points reveal that:
· Parents with children under the age of 18 are more likely than those without children under the age of 18 at home to order takeout at least once a month (89 percent versus 60 percent).
· Parents with children under the age of 18 are 21 percent more likely to use technology (app or website) to order takeout than their counterparts.
· 67 percent of parents agree that they wish it were easier to order takeout digitally.
· Parents are more likely to have abandoned a digital order than non-parents (69 percent versus 59 percent), and the most common reason was because the website/mobile app was not functioning properly.
· 25 percent of Parents abandoned a digital order because they could not customize their order.
· 37 percent of Parents somewhat/strongly agree that they spend more money when they order takeout digitally than when they order over the phone.
· 66 percent of Parents somewhat/strongly agree that it is important to be able to pre-pay for their order on their credit/debit card when ordering takeout.
· 61 percent of Parents expect to see discounts as a feature when ordering takeout digitally and 52 percent expect to see image of menu items.
The Bottom Line
The orderTalk survey set out to provide insight into the modern-day consumer of takeout food – their habits, preferences and sentiments towards the technology and the world of “eating-in.” While some findings were anticipated, such as the popularity of digital ordering among younger generations and the growing desire to see easier online ordering systems for restaurants, the surprise was in the level of frustration survey participants indicated when ordering food online.
A consumer’s desire to interact with a simple and intuitive online ordering system, as well as consumer inclination to jump ship before placing an order on a poor-preforming digital platform, is incredibly valuable feedback for the online ordering and restaurant industries. With it, restaurants have the supported rationale to partner with a best-in-class online ordering system provider to build a platform that meets customer needs and allows those customers to easily spend more money with the brands they love. It will also lead to increased business growth through stronger sales, higher check averages, decreased overhead costs and a higher customer satisfaction level.
To download the comprehensive 2017 Online Ordering Usage Report which includes more survey results, please visit: http://www.ordertalk.com/report2017/.