What do diners want most when they go out to eat? Apparently, easy ordering and payment. That’s the big takeaway in the “Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations” report released Thursday.
Hassle-free ordering and payment are especially important to younger consumers, defined as those between 18 and 37 years old. Seventy-four percent of them said ease of ordering and payment is extremely important to them, yet only 45% of restaurants meet that expectation, found the report from Boston-based BRP Consulting, which specializes in retail and restaurants.
“For Millennials, digital is shorthand for taking friction out of the order and payment process, allowing them to shop the way they want wherever they want,” the report said. “They, along with Gen Z, also value interactive technology and digital content (music, movies, games, digital shorts) more so than older generations.”
While restaurants whose primary guests may not have the same expectation now, BRP says such demands will become “table stakes in two years.”
Indeed, ease of ordering and payments is the top expectation—at 71%—for all age groups. In two years, BRP suggests that will increase to 81%.
Consumers also are looking forward to being able to make contactless and mobile payments more than they do now, with 32% expecting to do so today and 53% wanting to do so in two years.
Restaurant operators—the survey queried 60 executives—appear to be aware of these changing demands. While 34% say they offer contactless payment at checkout today, 49% plan to add this capability by 2020. Thirty-three percent offer the ability to pay via a wallet on a mobile app today, and 47% intend to offer this by 2020. Adding mobile point-of-sale capability—currently at 26% of restaurants today—is on the agenda for more restaurants, with 59% planning to do so by 2020.
“Operators have aggressive plans to invest in upgrading the digital experience, from contactless payments to proximity-triggered mobile coupons,” BRP says. “All of these will be great for guests, but put an increased load on restaurant operators’ network infrastructure.”
Many payment providers are courting hospitality and restaurant operators. Square Inc., for example, launched Square for Restaurants in May, and Shift4 Payments announced the acquisitions of three restaurant POS system providers in February.
The availability of guest Wi-Fi, at 48.8%, improved the dining experience among the more than 1,200 consumers surveyed. That was followed by tableside ordering devices, 40%; the ability to use the restaurant’s mobile app to pay, 36.9%; and contactless payment at checkout, 35.2%.