Restaurant Visits Paid by Mobile App Rise 50% in Past Year

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Restaurant Visits Paid by Mobile App Rise 50% in Past Year

Restaurant mobile payments

CHICAGO — During an otherwise slow period for the restaurant industry, new convenience-enabling technologies such as mobile ordering and delivery apps are a bright spot.

While U.S. foodservice traffic has been stuck between a 1-percent gain and flat for several years, restaurant visits paid by mobile app increased by 50 percent over the last year, according to Digital Evolution of Foodservice, a new report from The NPD Group.

Mobile apps and other technologies are meeting the needs of time-strapped consumers and have given new meaning to quick service, the report found. Among the top reasons that consumers use these technologies are so they can order, pay and have their food ready upon arrival. Other reasons include: the ability to earn rewards and loyalty points, receive specials and coupons, and look up menu items.

The report — which explores awareness and use of digital services, like barriers, most- and least-liked features, as well as demographic and geographic differences — also found that not all consumers are embracing technology when they visit restaurants. In 2017, two in five visits to restaurants were paid for using cash. Of these digital non-users, 22 percent said they preferred to pay in cash, while 18 percent didn't want to pay service fees, and 16 percent were worried about identity theft or credit card fraud.

"Providing the ability to easily order food from a restaurant is no longer a nice-to-have, it is a need-to-have," stated Warren Solochek, NPD's senior vice president, industry relations. "Restaurant operators seeking to gain more visits and grow the bottom line must decide which convenience enablers, digital or non-digital, are worth their investment."