Author: Stephan Soroka, Business Development Lead
The future of the restaurant industry will be shaped by consumer demand for convenience and frictionless digital experiences.
The consumer industry is undergoing dramatic change that will likely influence the markets, models, and mechanics of companies in significant ways over the next decade. As challenges emerge and opportunities present themselves, restaurants need to be prepared to innovate and drive the industry forward.
That takeaway was a key point in “The Future of Restaurants: The New Normal and Beyond,” a new survey from Deloitte!
Restaurant dining has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, Deloitte reported, with 55% of the 750 survey respondents in the U.S. saying they are dining out as much or more than they did pre-COVID. But some behavior has shifted a bit.
• 13% of restaurant customers use third-party apps or websites to order delivery or takeout, but 40% prefer to order through the restaurant’s own app or website. Deloitte's conclusion is that this demonstrates the importance of a restaurant owning its digital experience.
• A strong majority of consumers—87%—believe a delivery fee of $5 or less is fair for the convenience it brings.
• More than half of respondents (52%) indicated they would order from a ghost kitchen that offers takeout and delivery only.
• Over half of the respondents (52%) expressed a willingness to order from ghost kitchens, establishments that solely offer takeout and delivery services.
• Contactless delivery has maintained its prominence even beyond the pandemic, facilitating faster and more efficient deliveries. Approximately 53% of respondents indicated that they receive contactless deliveries more than 50% of the time.
• Younger consumers (aged 18-38) are more inclined to revisit restaurants that employ automation technologies, with 58% expressing their likelihood to do so, compared to 42% of those aged 39 and above.
It's all about value:
When asked what would get them to order from restaurants more frequently, answers were similar for both dine-in and takeout. Customers want less expensive options alongside promotions and discounts. And given projected future economic concerns, we expect this desire for cost savings to continue to grow.
The takeover to takeout:
To encourage digital sales, brands should continue to invest in frictionless digital experiences and consider looking to other industries such as airlines and hotels for inspiration. We found that customers generally prefer to order through a restaurant’s direct channels. So to protect those direct sales, restaurants should work to make their direct order channels the same cost, or less expensive, than third-party options.
The rise of automation
Automation and restaurant technology solutions introduced during the pandemic have been largely well-received. This year’s restaurant study found that most guests aren’t deterred by automation and would continue to go to restaurants that use these innovations.
For example, customers are increasingly comfortable with drones and driverless car delivery options, with 47% saying they would order from a restaurant that offered this type of delivery in 2023, versus 44% in 2021.
Technological advances could also lead to a greater focus on labor efficiency. With a tight labor market, increasing minimum wages, and growing union pressures, there will likely be greater scrutiny over which tasks must be completed by workers versus technology.
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