It’s easy to see that the U.S. restaurant industry has experienced a shift in attitudes toward restaurant technology – consumers are interested in assistive tools that they can access via web or mobile and restaurants are interested in customer-facing solutions.
Think of it like a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” scenario: restaurants can give customers a more convenient, multichannel dining experience and customers can make restaurant employees’ jobs easier.
The industry is made up of 970,000 establishments, 12.9 million employees and $632 billion dollars in sales, and a new study conducted by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) can help restaurant professionals put those numbers into perspective, answering questions like:
- How many consumers are actually interested in new restaurant technology?
- How many restaurant professionals are actually interested in implementing it?
- Which technologies, in particular, are consumers and restaurant professionals interested in?
- And ultimately – how widespread are these trends and where does your restaurant stand?
Here is what the NRA found out:
Electronic payments allow customers more flexibility and convenience – they can pay at home on an online or mobile ordering platform, at a self-service kiosk or on a wireless handheld device while they are seated at their table.
More than half of consumers who participated in the NRA survey said they would use an electronic payment system if it were available. This shows that consumers value convenience and innovation as part of their dining experience. In general, restaurant professionals are prepared for this shift. More than half of them said they believe electronic payment systems will become more popular.
Consumers have shown interest in electronic ordering capabilities – they want to make their dining experience as quick and easy as using their personal devices. Forty-one percent of consumers said they would use a self-service ordering terminal if available and 39 percent would use an electronic ordering system. In fact, 36 percent have already placed an order online.
Restaurateurs are also seeking restaurant technology for electronic ordering solutions, especially in quick service restaurants. A whopping 82 percent of QSRs said online and smartphone ordering will become more popular, compared with 40 percent of full-service restaurants. In addition, 56 percent of QSRs said the same about self-ordering terminals.
About your website…
Today’s consumers set foot on their purchasing paths before they even visit your physical restaurant. They want to use restaurant websites as a useful tool in their dining process – allowing them to find directions, browse menu items, look up nutrition information or even place orders. The NRA study found that more than half of consumers said they have visited a restaurant website and more than one-third of consumers have looked up nutrition information online.
About social media…
As old marketing methods lose their effectiveness, establishments are turning to restaurant technology to revitalize their campaigns and extend their reach. And because many of today’s consumers are active on social media, restaurant professionals have recognized the need for it. The majority restaurateurs (9 in 10) said social media will become more important marketing tools. In fact, almost all of them (95 percent) said they will be on Facebook in the next two years, and three-fourths (78 percent) said they will be on Twitter.
Social media help consumers, too. Three in 10 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 have viewed or posted reviews on consumer-driven sites like Yelp. This means social media are worth investing in – they could have a significant impact on whether or not consumers choose you over your competitor.
Are you interested in today’s restaurant technology?