Restaurants See Uptick in Digital Orders

Mobile, online and third-party outlets account for 41% of sales vs. 32% for on-premise purchases.

March 08, 2022

Mobile Ordering Food

NEWTON, Mass.—Forty-one percent of the average restaurant’s sales now come through digital channels, including mobile apps, aggregators and websites, according to a new report by Paytronix. On-premise accounted for 32% of sales, and phone calls made up 26% of sales.

Restaurants receive orders through an average of 2.7 different purchasing channels at any given time, the survey found, and channels can include a mobile app, third-party delivery apps, desktop website, on-site visits or over the phone.

“Today’s most successful restaurants look at the customer experience holistically, not as separate channels,” said Andrew Robbins, CEO of Paytronix Systems Inc. “It’s now about a convergence in which every aspect of a brand works in concert to create a branded and personalized experience so that whether a guest orders from their couch or from the table in a restaurant, the experience is one that keeps them coming back.”

Consequently, 41% of managers now consider it “very important” to provide customers with a consistent, integrated cross-channel ordering experience. Providing the right ordering options (39%) and payment options (38%) would be “very” important to their innovation strategies going forward, the survey indicates. Loyalty features and pickup options were equally common considerations for managers, cited by 38% each.

Restaurants charge an average of 24% more for menu items listed on third-party delivery apps than for the same items listed on their own websites. QSRs are the most likely restaurant type to bump up their third-party delivery app prices, with 27% of QSR managers confirming that they sell the same foods for higher prices on a third-party delivery app than they do on their websites. Just 14% of table-service restaurant managers do the same.

The research also shows that 96% of restaurant managers mark down prices for loyalty program members, and the average loyalty discount clocks in at roughly 3.8%. A recent survey by Patronix and PYMNTS found that 48% of restaurant patrons surveyed say they engage with a loyalty program in some way. The survey showed that similar shares of consumers use loyalty programs at QSRs (42%) and restaurants with table service (43%), while 64% of customers use loyalty programs at multiple restaurants.

A Paytronix’s previous report found that deals, discounts and loyalty programs attract high-spending, high-frequency customers more than other spending groups, and these buyers account for one-quarter of restaurant patrons and an outsized share of food aggregator users.

Fast casual restaurants flourished during the pandemic partly because of loyalty programs, which allow QSRs the ability to leverage customers’ data. Panera Bread is famous in the fast-casual channel for its loyalty program, which is subscription based and focused on unlimited coffee and hot tea for $8.99 a month plus exclusive rewards for subscribers, but many subscribers don’t leave the restaurant with just a cup of coffee because Panera is focused on the cross-sell and the upsell. It’s also a simple and transparent loyalty model.

Chipotle is another loyalty champion. Before COVID-19, Chipotle had fewer than 10 million rewards members, and by December 2021, there were 24.5 million.

NACS Magazine dove into loyalty programs and how they can provide convenience retailers with critical consumer insights and a competitive edge in “Just Rewards.”