Restaurant digital orders, which are defined by meals or snacks ordered via mobile app, internet, or text message, have grown by almost one-quarter (23 percent) over the past four years and now represent 3.1 billion visits and $26.8 billion dollars, according to new research conducted by The NPD Group.
According to NPD, digital restaurant orders will continue to grow by double-digits through 2020. This growth will continue across all service modes, including delivery, on premises, and carryout.
Not surprisingly, convenience ranks as 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 percent 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.”