WASHINGTON — Off-premises business now accounts for nearly 60 percent of food service occasions, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and Technomic.
Foodservice drive-thru, takeout and delivery continue to grow as consumer lifestyles increasingly are shaped by the convenience and speed of online and app-based ordering in other industries, the report said. As a result, nearly 80 percent of operators say off-premises programs are a strategic priority.
“The restaurant industry is constantly changing and technology’s role in it continues to become more critical,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA’s Research and Knowledge Group. “We are seeing the industry change and adapt faster than ever before in response to the macro-environmental factors driving consumer behavior.”
The study found that customers are most receptive to consumer-facing technologies such as drive-thru enhancements, order accuracy tracking and frictionless mobile ordering. The drive-thru is a key area of growth, with 92 percent of consumers using the service at least once a month. More than one of out every three consumers utilize delivery more than they did a year ago, and 79 percent have their food delivered from a restaurant at least once a month, according to the report.
Though the rise of off-premises ordering often is associated with convenience-minded Gen Z and millennials, delivery appeals to more than just young, tech-savvy consumers. Another recent study from the NRA found that more than half of baby boomers want to order delivery more frequently than they do now, compared to 43 percent of millennials.
“In today’s on-demand world, off-premises capabilities are more important than ever to keep restaurants aligned with the wants and needs of its customers,” Riehle said.
Restaurant brands are investing heavily in technology, but the industry still is struggling to keep up with changing consumer demands. While 74 percent of companies said they’re investing in off-premises programs, none of the top five investments included customer-facing technology. Close to half of delivery users place orders via restaurant apps, but only 18 percent of operators offer mobile ordering via their own app.
Operators should consider the increased standard of convenience in other industries and adapt accordingly, according to the report.
The NRA and Technomic also found that in-store technology is becoming increasingly prominent. Twenty-two percent of consumers used kiosk ordering in the last year, and 11 percent used voice assistant ordering. Nearly half of restaurant operators offering voice ordering or location intelligence said the technologies have had a large positive impact on their business.