Are Fast-Food Chains Innovating Fast Enough?

For some quick-service chains, making sure orders are filled quickly isn’t always good enough.
December 12, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In collaboration with Bank of America Merchant Services and Bypass Mobile, PYMNTS.com has launched its Restaurant Readiness Index to assess the level of innovation in the U.S. quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry. The index measures QSRs’ use of online ordering, in-store beacons, alternative payment methods and other capabilities intended to make the customer experience easier and convenient. 

“Not only do patrons want their eatery of choice to offer tasty culinary creations, but they increasingly expect the latest cutting-edge tech, as well. They want to be able to pre-order their meals from their phones (from wherever they may be), pay in advance and skip the line to pick up their ready-to-eat items. All the while, they expect QSRs to remember their preferences. In short, customers want innovation, but restaurants, largely, aren’t giving it to them,” notes PYMNTS.com.

PYMNTS.com studied 178 QSRs and tracked the presence or absence of convenience features when customers order and pay in-store, on a mobile device or via the web. Of the 178 QSRs analyzed, 172 operated between eight and 2,630 locations. These include burger, bakery/café, chicken, frozen dessert, Mexican, sandwich, and soup/salad/bowl chains.

Among the most notable findings:

  • The innovations most likely to place a QSR at the top of the index include accepting new and alternative payment methods, kiosks to enable self-service ordering, and cloud-based point-of-sale systems. Most QSRs, however, are failing to implement those features.
  • The soup/salad QSR segment ranked highest for innovation. At the other end of the spectrum, restaurants serving frozen desserts performed the worst.
  • 15% of QSRs analyzed accept payments via digital wallets. The coffee/tea segment owned the highest implantation score for this feature.

Some of the most recognized QSR brands earned top rankings in the index. Among the attributes that made them stand out: their likelihood of offering QR code, inventory checking, online-ordering/in-store pick up, and saved-payment-method capabilities.

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