Restaurant Tech Use Rockets

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Technology has zoomed to the very top of the restaurant industry menu.

That according to a new restaurant innovation report from the National Restaurant Association, the industry trade group. More than one-third of consumers say they are more likely to use technology-related options in restaurants now than they did just two years ago, the report says.

Equally compelling: Almost one-third of consumers with smartphones say they would use a smartphone app to pay their check instead of using cash, a debit card or credit card, according to a the national survey of 1,007 consumers taken earlier this month for the trade group.

The survey results come at time when the $683 billion restaurant industry appears to be almost uniformly embracing technology in a bid to appeal not only to Millennials but other tech-savvy customers, as well. Recently, Taco Bell rolled out a new app customers can use to order and pay and Outback introduced a new online system that allows consumers to see wait times at every Outback Steakhouse in the country and book a place in line.

The use of technology among customers in all age groups is fast-expanding — particularly among frequent users, says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the NRA. And a growing number of consumers, he says, are using smartphones on a regular basis to order items for delivery, redeem rewards and pay for meals.

A majority of smartphone owners say they use their devices for several restaurant-related tasks at least a few times per year — such as viewing menus, reading online reviews or ordering food via apps.

Among those consumers who use their smartphones to look up restaurant information at least once a week, age seems to make little difference. For example, 15% of all adults use their smartphones to look up nutritional information at least once per week; 14% in the 18- to 34-year-old age group; and 12% among those 65 and older.

Likewise, 11% of all adults use their smartphones for rewards of special restaurant deals at least once weekly; 11% among consumer 18 to 34; and 12% of those over 65.

But most folks who don’t use their smartphones for restaurant purchases or information give the same reason: They prefer to deal with people.

This desire to deal with people was particularly notable among younger consumers, where 61% of 18- to 34-year-olds gave this as a reason. Only 42% of those over age 65 said that was the main reason.

Then, there are those who are clueless. Some 15% say they don’t use these smartphone options more often because they don’t know how.

Source: Bruce Horovitz for USA Today

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