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For a nation that prides itself on being digitally advanced, the use of digital technology in the casual dining and restaurant industry is quite often absent, or else consumers aren’t keen to use it. In a January 2015 study by customer experience improvement agency Market Force Information, seven in 10 UK internet users said they had never used guest-facing technology to place a food order.
Of the technology that was used, in-restaurant kiosks were cited most often, by 20% of respondents. This was nearly double the proportion who said they’d used a smartphone app. Indeed, while smartphones are becoming increasingly prominent in consumer retail journeys, their use in restaurants is surprisingly low. This is well illustrated by uptake of mobile payments among diners in the UK. According to Market Force, only 12% of UK internet users had paid for a fast-food or fast-casual restaurant meal using a mobile app or digital wallet on their smartphone.
However, mobile payments more generally are seeing particularly good uptake in the UK. Ironically, the hunger among UK consumers to utilize mpayments for small purchases, and particularly food purchases, was in evidence in a piece of research from TNS for mobile payment service provider Paym. The Paym service, which allows users to make payments to friends and family using just their mobile number, was seen as most useful for paying people back for lunch, cited by 30% of respondents.
Perhaps if more digital options to pay for food were available, or at least more visible, then diners could be persuaded to try them out. They’re happy enough tipping their friends for sandwiches, after all.
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