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High levels of convenience and efficiency have always been part of the dining-out proposition—speed
rules most restaurant segments—but now digital technologies, led by smartphones and tablets, are fueling an even greater push for immediacy, according to a new eMarketer report, “US Restaurant Sector: Digital Ordering and Mobile Payment Trends.”
While it still has a ways to go before becoming truly commonplace, online ordering, whether through desktop, mobile web, branded apps or third parties like Seamless, has been growing in popularity.
In an October 2013 study of US consumers conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 23% of survey respondents had ordered food using a smartphone or tablet in the past month. The number who had ordered food online via desktop was likely higher but was included as part of a question about not only ordering but also viewing menus and making reservations—to which 41% of respondents said they had done any of the three.
Other studies have shown similar results. In an April 2014 survey of AYTM Market Research’s online survey panel, 32% of respondents said they “regularly” ordered food online, but just 4% said they did so regularly via mobile apps.
Similarly, in a February 2014 survey of US internet
users by ad agency Sullivan Higdon & Sink, just over one-quarter (26%) had ordered online from a restaurant in the past year, with parents (37%) and millennials (35%) the age groups among whom online ordering was most common. Looking ahead, 45% of respondents said they planned to order food online in the next year, and regardless of actual usage, 58% found the idea of ordering food online appealing.
According to Sullivan Higdon & Sink survey respondents, the leading benefits of ordering online were ease, convenience and accuracy. But the plusses differed slightly by age. Not having to wait was the most important factor among boomers. Millennials most valued ease of use.
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