- Digital restaurant orders grew 23% annually since 2013 and are expected to triple in volume by 2020, according to a report from The NPD Group.
- Six out of 10 digital orders are completed by mobile apps. Restaurant apps or websites led the trend by processing 70% of the orders while the other 30% were completed through third-party apps or other types of apps/websites.
- Third-party restaurant apps such as DoorDash, Grubhub/Seamless and Uber Eats make up 40% of the 20 most-used apps.
Mobile and online ordering for take-out or delivery is quickly becoming the top area of same-store growth across multiple brands, including Wendy's, Chipotle and McDonald's. Because of the growth potential, operators wishing to grow will need to adapt a digital strategy, NPD food industry advisor David Portalatin said in a statement.
With a bulk of orders coming through restaurant sites, chains have an opportunity to build upon the current moment and create their own apps to capture the same-store off-premise. Picking which strategy to use, however, is one of the biggest questions for restaurants. Panera has built up its own ordering app and delivery capabilities, while DoorDash partnered with Chipotle and Wendy's not to provide restaurant-branded ordering, but access to its delivery drivers.
Each ordering method also comes with distinct benefits. Consumers will use restaurant branded apps to access rewards and savings (with over half of restaurant visitors participating in a rewards program), to customize their ordering and reduce time and friction during the ordering process, while deals and discounts can often result in more use, according to The NPD Group.
On the other hand, consumers will use a third-party app over a restaurant app to look up items, pay for meals and check for prices, according to consumers surveyed. Third-party apps allow small and independent operators grow their digital ordering without having to invest heavily in IT infrastructure, according to NPD. The take-out ordering app, Ritual, has built up its platform with independent operators and regional chains, many of which were novices in the e-commerce space.
"There are clear leaders in the digital ordering space, brands, and third-party providers who have achieved critical mass the fastest," Portalatin said in a statement. "To make the best decisions about digital strategies and potential partnerships, operators need to understand the key features that differentiate these companies from one another."
Restaurants too will need to make sure the quality of food is similar to the dine-in experience. Over half of consumers said they wouldn't use delivery if the food wasn't the correct temperature, according to The NPD Group report.
Many restaurants have been struggling to provide a better quality food to improve the delivery experience with food delivery at a cold temperature to fries being soggy. Chipotle, for example, has been pushing to deliver meals in under 30 minutes. Without providing a similar quality of food as dine-in, restaurants will run the risk of losing loyal customers.