- A new survey from MGH found that 77% of diners visit a restaurant's website before they dine in or order out from the establishment. Of that group, nearly 70% have been discouraged from visiting the restaurant because of its website, according to a press release.
- Of 1,101 U.S. adults surveyed, the vast majority of diners (69%) said a restaurant's website helps them decide if they want to dine in, while 43% visit the website to decide if they want to order takeout or delivery.
- The biggest factor behind diners' decisions to visit a restaurant after looking at its website were the items on its menu, though some diners said that a restaurant website's sub-optimal ease of navigation, readability or its food photography might turn them off from ordering.
Though it's a no-brainer that a consumer would be persuaded by an enticing menu displayed on a website, that's not the only driver behind their decision. MGH also found that 33% of consumers were discouraged by a difficult-to-navigate website, and 30% were because the restaurant's website looked old or out of date.
Indeed, first impressions are critical when it comes to restaurants, which is why most consumers would swear off an establishment if it had dirty bathrooms (82%), tables (74%) or floors (66%) or outdated decor (60%), according to research from Zoro. A website's presence is no different, especially as most customers go there first.
As delivery and takeout channels continue to grow in the restaurant space, those features are even more critical to get right digitally. If it's challenging to navigate an online ordering portal, chances are high that customers will abandon their carts and go elsewhere.
This is also true for mobile-friendly websites. Restaurants that don't have responsive design to display their information seamlessly on a mobile phone could be at a significant disadvantage as food orders placed via smartphone and mobile apps are expected to become a $38 billion industry by 2020. Chipotle is a case study here. The chain's website won a Webby Award in 2017 for its responsive web ordering feature. Coincidentally, the chain is now a standard-bearer of digital ordering, generating 18.2% of all Q2 sales through mobile and online channels — a 99% increase from the same period last year. The company also clocked a 10% comparable sales increase during the quarter, well above the average for the industry.
Restaurant website design has become so important that restaurant web developer BentoBox received $16.4 million in funding earlier this year, as well as an investment from prolific restaurateur Danny Meyer. As BentoBox CEO Krystle Mobayeni told TechCrunch in April, websites are the only place online where restaurants maintain control over their relationship with their customers.