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Friday, July 13, 2018

Restaurants struggle to close digital divide

Growing evidence suggests that evolving guest expectations and digital technologies are driving major transformation in the restaurant industry. With 30 percent of restaurant revenues expected to come from digital sales channels by 2025, the race is on to embed digital technology across the entire dining journey, according to BRP Consulting.

"As guest expectations continue to rise, restaurants must transform their business with new technologies to make the dining experience more seamless and frictionless," said Scott Langdoc, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP, adding that guests are seeking dining experiences that empower them and offer convenience.

However, major gaps exist between guest expectations and operator confidence about digital capabilities offered. Of the 1,225 restaurant guests and 60 restaurant executives surveyed by Incisiv LLC, on behalf of BRP and Windstream Enterprise, 74 percent of guests felt ease of ordering and payment were extremely important, but only 45 percent of restaurant operators felt this capability was currently performing well.

Similarly, 60 percent of guests considered fast, free Wi-Fi availability in restaurants extremely important, while 44 percent of operators felt they met this need sufficiently. Digital discounts and promotions on any platform, especially mobile devices, were important to 60 percent of guests; 35 percent of operators accommodate this need now.

"Unfortunately, many restaurant brands and franchisees have a long way to go to catch up to guest expectations," Langdoc said. "The good news is that restaurants are aware of the gap and their future plans include enhancements to key areas that guests deem important for a great experience: ease of ordering and payment, WiFi availability, and mobile POS."

Risk of millennial meltdown

Earlier this year, Worldpay Inc. conducted research of its own, setting up a pop-up restaurant in London to challenge restaurant customers with inferior service, ranging from wrong orders to slow card machines and miscalculated bills. The Stresstaurant experiment discovered that millennials fared poorly when it came to stressful dining conditions and were twice as likely to find eating out stressful than older diners.

Worldpay also found three-quarters of consumers won't wait more than five minutes to pay, with one in five annoyed after three minutes. A fifth said they are regularly frustrated by slow service. Only six percent found restaurant service quick and efficient.

"Payment stress can taint the entire dining experience, and with so few diners considering service to be efficient, there is a huge opportunity for savvy operators to differentiate their offering and win over loyal consumers through a more seamless customer centric service," said Chris Crang, vice president marketing UK and Europe for Worldpay.

Based on evidence from both Worldpay and BRP, consumer expectations for digital capabilities and quick, efficient service will continue to dominate restaurant strategies to remain relevant and meet consumer demand in the future. The National Restaurant Association also confirmed in research that 32 percent of diners believe restaurants are lagging on pay-at-table technology, another area tech-forward restaurants must address.

"Increasingly, consumers have come to expect the same frictionless service they receive online in the real world, with technology shifting the perception of what the modern dining experience should be," Crang noted.

For more details, read "The Worldpay Customer Experience Report 2018" and "The Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations" report from BRP. end of article

Editor's Note:

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