Data shows customer ordering has moved online

A man ad woman eat food together on a couch.

Written by James Shea

A new report from Paytronix demonstrates consumers’ permanent buying pattern shifts in the restaurant and convenience store industries over the last two years. The underlying conclusion — technology will play an ever-increasing role.

Called the “The Order & Delivery Report 22: Navigating the Digital New Normal,” the report shows that one-third of all orders were received digitally, an increase from 12% prior to the pandemic. That is partially due to the increased number of businesses that offer online ordering. When the pandemic hit, thousands of restaurants rushed to add online ordering to their websites and added third-party delivery. As a result, the industry saw a 42% decline in dine-in sales from January 2020 to January 2022.

“What is clear is that the customer experience of the future will be different than it was in 2019, before the pandemic,” according to the report. “C-stores and restaurants will need to use technology to cater to guests wherever they are and give those guests the flexibility to receive their food through different channels.”

As other data has shown recently, delivery has declined since its pandemic peak, but takeout is a strong distribution channel for restaurants and convenience stores. According to the report, 55% of orders are for takeout, up from 35% in January 2020. Delivery orders peaked in 2020 and have slowly declined over the last year. But, as the report notes, delivery, especially third-party delivery, is still a huge part of the food landscape.

“Third-party delivery is not going anywhere and will continue to be a viable channel in the future,” according to the report “Even if restaurants and c-stores are successful at converting third-party delivery customers to first-party delivery customers, third-party services will continue to play an important role in a customer acquisition strategy.”

A positive for delivery, according to the report, is the loyalty of delivery customers. Delivery customers tip more and are more likely to be repeat customers than ones who place online orders for takeout. Around one-third of customers who place orders for delivery are customers who order multiple times a month.

In the end, the loyalty of a customer comes down to a combination of food, service and value, and the data indicates that restaurants can recover from negative reviews. The key is engaging the customer and finding ways to address the problem.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was extremely disruptive to the restaurant and c-store industries highlighted,” the report said, adding: “Consumer behaviors toward dining and restaurants shifted quickly at the pandemic’s onset in early 2020, and even as pandemic restrictions begin to ease, consumers don’t appear keen to go back to the previous way of doing things.”

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