The rising importance of multiplatform operations

The increasing prominence and profitability of off-premises dining has been a prominent accelerated shift throughout the pandemic. Now and moving forward, restaurants must realize that appealing to the multiplatform customer is vital for survival and success.

Financial services company Rabobank estimates that even coming into COVID-19, off-premises sales had increased nearly four times faster than dine-in business and accounted for about 80 per cent of restaurants’ U.S. dollar sales growth over the last three years.

That trend has only gathered pace and momentum.

A recent report from PYMNTS and Paytronix highlights customers’ desire for “seamless, customizable restaurant experiences”. These days, diners want intuitive and customizable experiences that feature digital enhancements such as QR codes and mobile payments.

“Independent restaurants and foodservice brands that wish to engage customers and retain their loyalty would be wise to adopt digital features that improve purchasing convenience and efficiency,” the report emphasized.

A threat or a helping hand?

QSR magazine notes that while many independent restaurants may have seen the rise in popularity of delivery service aggregators as a threat to their share, it could just as justifiably be viewed as a huge new opportunity.

While aggregators mean that multiplatform consumers have easier access to competitors and large chains, each restaurant also has a far broader and deeper reach thanks to these services.

That’s not least because since the onset of the pandemic, according to PYMNTS and Paytronix, 42 per cent of consumers have used at least one aggregator and 15 per cent have used three or more. This latter category is what we call the multiplatform user.

“Even as consumers have regained access to their favourite restaurants, multiplatform aggregators still provide the kind of time-saving conveniences many consumers, especially affluent younger adults, have come to rely on,” the report said.

Diners’ key motivations

Consumers’ ongoing embrace of multiplatform aggregators stems from a desire for simplicity, convenience, and digital-first features. The report found that 59.9 per cent of multiplatform users choose such a method due to ease and convenience, 55.6 per cent due to faster delivery, 46.6 per cent because of discounts and offers, and 40.1 per cent due to lower prices.

It will likely come as little surprise that multiplatform users are more likely to be millennials (34 per cent) than any other age group. Conversely, consumers who do not use aggregators were likely to be Baby Boomers and seniors (87 per cent) and also have lower incomes (70 per cent earn less than $50,000 per year).

There is also a significant time and effort savings on offer. Multiplatform users save time at a rate that is nearly twice that of delivery aggregator non-users, meaning they gain time and boost loyalty.

“Digital-first technologies are more than just user-friendly features on a website — they represent a proactive approach to designing user experiences around convenience and efficiency,” the report said.

The report also asked respondents what factors could prompt them to consider using aggregators in the future. Nearly one-third (30.5 per cent) said lower delivery and service fees, followed by a faster delivery experience (19.2 per cent), faster ordering (15.3 per cent), and other perks including a bonus offering on sign-up (13.8 per cent).