What to expect for digital ordering in 2021

Learn more about what consumers are calling for in the new year.
delivery containers
Photograph: Shutterstock

After the pandemic’s onset, nationwide lockdowns ushered in a wave of consumers trying digital ordering and off-premise dining in unprecedented volumes. Even as restrictions have relaxed and as news of a vaccine becoming available to the public indicates better days ahead, consumers continue to opt for off-premise orders—made through digital means—for many of their restaurant orders, and they will likely continue doing so in 2021. 

Even modest predictions for online ordering foresee digital sales remaining elevated from before the pandemic—indicating a call for effortless, user-friendly digital ordering technologies to guarantee a great customer experience. Here are some consumer expectations for online ordering that will likely play a role in giving operators a competitive edge in 2021. 

Off-premise dining made seamless

According to Technomic’s October 2020 Ordering Online for Delivery report, consumers placed 9% of restaurant orders by phone or online in Q1 2020. By Q2 2020, that number had reached a whopping 33%, with mobile and online orders for carryout alone increasing by 286%. In addition, most consumers intend to maintain or increase their off-premise dining even as dine-in service becomes more widely available, according to Technomic’s July 2020 Delivery & Takeout report, with 42% of consumers saying they’d likely use online ordering via mobile device for carryout or delivery.  

Convenience is a key factor driving online orders for off-premise dining: Twenty percent of consumers say they’re ordering carryout and delivery more because there are now more convenient amenities available for off-premise ordering than there were before. Surprisingly, however, only 18% of operators offer the ability to order and pay ahead digitally—both of which are services that keep transactions fast and support social distancing.

Online-ordering technologies from industry leader NCR ensure that each customer’s experience ordering online for off-premise dining is as seamless as possible—helping encourage consumers to keep coming back for more. NCR’s Off-Premise Ordering simplifies the process for restaurant diners and staff alike, integrating across POS systems, kiosks and digital and third-party ordering platforms for ultimate brand consistency. Consumers come for the convenience, and they stay for the customized, effortless experiences.

Great customer service in the digital sphere

Offering top-tier customer service isn’t limited to on-premise experiences; diners ordering online want a personalized experience, too. Especially since the pandemic introduced a wave of first-time users to digital ordering and off-premise dining, user-friendly technologies are key to keeping the process as easy and uncomplicated as possible.

Online ordering systems offer a prime opportunity for restaurants to leverage the personalization that consumers prefer. When restaurants cater their digital ordering platforms to each individual customer, everybody wins: Consumers can easily order their favorite meals and take advantage of promotions, and restaurant operators can help boost check averages by encouraging diners to add their favorite menu items to their order before checkout. According to Technomic’s Delivery and Takeout report, 32% of consumers say they’d likely use a digital ordering system if it registered their favorite menu items to make ordering easier in the future.

NCR digital ordering solutions help increase check averages—and customer satisfaction—by offering loyalty features, custom offers and promotions through restaurants’ digital channels. What’s more, NCR systems offer feedback mechanisms embedded into restaurants’ digital channels so that operators can stay on top of what customers are asking for and maintain a competitive edge. 

To learn more about how NCR online ordering solutions can help restaurant operators win in the new year, visit https://www.ncr.com/restaurants.


This post is sponsored by NCR


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