The growing access to foodservice delivery has garnered lots of attention from the marketplace and media, but while delivery grabs the spotlight, digital restaurant orders overall steadily grow by double-digits, reports The NPD Group. Restaurant digital orders, which are defined by meals or snacks ordered via mobile app, internet, or text message, have grown by 23% over the past four years and now represent 3.1 billion visits and $26.8 billion dollars. NPD forecasts digital orders to continue to grow by double-digits through 2020 with growth across all service modes including delivery, on premises, and carryout, according to NPD's Delivering Digital Convenience report.
Although convenience is understandably the top reason consumers choose digital ordering, other top reasons include: no waiting; the ability to order, pay, and have it ready; ordering at my "own" pace; and earning rewards/feeling valued. In addition to these reasons, since mobile apps represent 60% of digital orders, users of leading restaurant brand apps are also drawn to other motivations, like saving money, customizing orders, ordering on the way, and earning rewards.
Loyalty rewards in particular have been successful for restaurant brands in getting customers to keep using their apps. These type of loyalty programs offer a compelling reason for consumers to carry a larger number of restaurant apps on their phones, helping to ensure the success of newer entrants in gaining mobile phone real estate. An app on a phone helps increase usage because it's top-of-mind when a consumer is deciding what and where to order.
"Digital ordering has raised the bar on convenience and with it the customer experience," says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. "Digital ordering overall and apps have provided a path to market to consumers on a one-to-one basis and offer them a restaurant experience customized to their needs."