Research: 92% of Restaurant Patrons Will Continue to Use Mobile Order-ahead, Curbside Pickup and Delivery Options

"Customers will continue to expect a complete digital experience in addition to an on-premises experience, not as a replacement."

A new research report finds that 92 percent of vaccinated restaurant customers who have shifted to ordering online plan to keep doing so after the pandemic has subsided with only the remaining 8 percent planning to return to dining on-site as they did before. This signals that the mobile order-ahead, curbside pickup and delivery capabilities that gained traction during the pandemic are here to stay.

The report, a PYMNTS and Paytronix Systems collaboration, is part of an ongoing series entitled Delivering on Restaurant Rewards. The report examines sales through February and March, as vaccinated people started returning to on-premises dining, it found that online sales increased along with in-store sales. Between The first week of February and the last week in March, in-store sales grew by 13% and online sales grew about 3%.

“Digital ordering is now a key part of the customer experience and that means restaurants need to make it a priority within their own operations. Customers will continue to expect a complete digital experience in addition to an on-premises experience, not as a replacement. The challenge for restaurant brands going forward will be how to offer a consistent and personalized experience, no matter how the customer chooses to interact,” said Andrew Robbins, CEO of Paytronix Systems.

The seventh edition of Delivering on Restaurant Rewards explores the ways in which age and vaccination status impact consumers’ food ordering habits. A census-balanced panel of 1,984 United States consumers were surveyed about their vaccination statuses and how they purchase restaurant orders to gain a clearer picture of how mass vaccinations might shape the future of the restaurant industry.

Key findings from the research include: 

  • Convenience matters – 32 percent of vaccinated restaurant customers say they would spend more on their orders if they could pay online; 40 percent of vaccinated restaurant customers would spend more if they could earn loyalty and rewards for their orders.
  • Vaccinations and loyalty – There is a surprising and inexplicable link between vaccination and loyalty program usage. Vaccinated consumers’ inclination to engage with loyalty and rewards programs is highest among younger demographics, including bridge millennials, millennials and Generation Z consumers. 
  • More accessible loyalty programs – Restaurant loyalty programs need to be accessible both online and offline to meet their customers’ payment needs as more consumers migrate back to brick-and-mortar establishments.

“There are no signs that brick-and-mortar commerce will necessarily return to its pre-pandemic norms despite the acceleration of mass vaccination rollouts. Consumers are keen to maintain the digital-first ordering and purchasing habits they have acquired since the pandemic began, with restaurant customers being more attached to digital ordering and payment capabilities than most.” – Delivering on Restaurant Rewards.

Delivering On Restaurant Rewards draws from a survey of a census balanced panel of 1,984 U.S. consumers to gain insights into the types of rewards programs they use and would like to use when placing food orders. Respondents were 48 years old, on average, 33 percent had college degrees and 36 percent earned more than $100,000 annually.

Download the full report (registration required): Delivering on Restaurant Rewards: Post-Vaccination Online Ordering: How will mass vaccination affect food orders?