Digital Order-Ahead Beating Delivery on Restaurant Mobile Payments Front

June 13, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

While many of us have been focused on the notion of delivery in restaurants—especially as it connects to mobile payments—another development in the restaurant market has slipped in and taken over the top focus for many users. A recent report issued by The NPD Group reveals that delivery isn’t nearly the powerhouse in the field that order-ahead is.

Delivery is a growing market, the NPD Group reports, but it’s only three percent of industry traffic. By next year, however, digital orders will comprise eight percent of industry traffic, nearly triple the delivery market.

Already restaurant digital orders have grown 23 percent over just the last four years, making up a combined total of 3.1 billion visits and $26.8 billion dollars. In fact, NPD expects double-digit growth in the order-ahead segment to continue through 2020, and for all versions—carryout, on-premises and even delivery—to gain ground accordingly.

Reasons behind these gains vary; convenience is, not surprisingly, top of the list, but customers also enjoy a vastly reduced wait time and the ability to not only order in advance, but also pay in advance, meaning that the food is ready when they arrive. With mobile apps making up 60 percent of digital orders, the use of mobile payments factors in here as well, and the ability to customize orders and gain access to rewards programs also help.

As noted by NPD food industry advisor David Portalatin, digital ordering has made the overall customer experience a lot more convenient and thus improved substantially over its past. With digital orders, Portalatin notes, consumers now have a “path-to-market…on a one-to-one basis” and with that a thoroughly customized experience.

There’s likely another good reason for the discrepancy: availability. Delivery isn’t available just anywhere, after all; just ask someone living in some rural Podunk how many options they have for delivery. If they can cite more than one or two pizza places, it’s something of a minor miracle. Order-ahead, though, is available just about anywhere because it most often depends on the customer to do the driving him- or herself.

Customers like order-ahead for a lot of reasons, and businesses are often more willing to provide it than much more expensive delivery options. It’s little surprise, therefore, to see order-ahead doing much better.