- A new study from the National Restaurant Association, in partnership with Technomic, shows that 43% of consumers want to place orders via a restaurant's app, but only 18% of operators offer mobile ordering via their own app.
- Twenty-nine percent of operators say they are lagging the industry when it comes to technology.
- Ninety-one percent of consumers placed delivery orders directly through a restaurant's app or website within the past year, while 60% said they used a third-party delivery service.
The study also found an even split of consumers (35%) who prefer a restaurant's native channels to customize their meals and customers who prefer third-party apps for speed, which reflects an interesting paradox taking place in today's industry. Should restaurants prioritize investments in their own apps, especially if they're relying on third-party aggregates to facilitate delivery orders?
According to this study, they should prioritize both their in-house technology and the assets of outside partners. This strategy is beginning to catch on, with multiple major restaurant chains deploying hybrid delivery models. Panera, for example, developed a profitable in-house delivery model a few years ago, but recently added partnerships with Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash to complement that system. Outback Steakhouse and Pizza Hut have also launched similar programs this year.
Co-existence with third-party providers seems to be a particularly viable solution for restaurant operators in general considering the pace at which these technologies are moving. Aside from cost, operators cited not enough consumer demand as one of the major reasons their technology has fallen behind industry standards. But the National Restaurant Association data shows otherwise. Fifty-six percent of consumers, for example, place delivery orders via restaurant websites, but just 45% offer this option.
Considering the report's finding that a majority — 60% — of restaurant occasions are now off-premises, disparities between diner desire for mobile ordering and restaurants' lackluster offerings will have to close, and quick, in order for operators to compete for traffic and transactions. Diners clearly expect off-premise options, whether via drive-thru, carryout or delivery, and investing in technologies that enable these channels is the only way to get there.
It seems restaurants are feeling the pressure to bridge this gap — 78% of restaurant operators consider off-premises programs to be a strategic priority. And, according to the National Restaurant Association's annual State of the Industry report released in April, 70% of QSR operators planned to invest more in customer-facing, service-based technology like online or app ordering, mobile payments and delivery management this year.