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  • March 8, 2021

The 2021 restaurant consumer trends every business owner should know

Lauren Pope
Content Marketing Manager
This is a syndicated post, view the original post here

Research from Oracle highlights this year’s top 4 trends

Businesses are ready to welcome patrons back with open arms – but do consumers feel the same way?

Although customers are eager to get back to dining out, expectations have certainly shifted since the last time restaurants welcomed patrons to dine-in. With the return to in-person dining just around the corner for many, now is the time to make changes that deliver the experience your patrons expect.

Yet not everyone will be ready to make an immediate return to in-person dining

While many consumers are ready go out to eat again, some are less certain. Customers are feeling varying levels of comfort and many won’t be ready to make a full return to dining in-person for months. Restaurateurs will need to pay close attention to which category their patrons fall into and accommodate them accordingly. 

Using research from Oracle’s Dining In and Out in 2021 – US and UK Consumer Trends report, we’ve outlined the four most important restaurant consumer trends for business owners to know and detailed how the right restaurant technology can help.

The Top 4 Trends

1. There is a large disparity between generations when it comes to the return to in-person dining:

  • 65% of Generation Z consumers plan to dine out immediately or soon after reopening
  • 66% of Millennial consumers plan to dine out immediately or soon after reopening
  • 51% of Generation X consumers plan to dine out immediately or soon after reopening
  • 38% of Baby Boomers plan to dine out immediately or soon after reopening

The staggered return to in-person dining means online ordering and delivery will continue to be a huge player in 2021. Online ordering platforms allow customers to place their order directly through a website or mobile app before sending the order directly to the kitchen. Customers then receive an automated text or email when their order is ready and keeps both customers and staff informed on the status of every order. Investing in online ordering and delivery opens up new sales channels to business owners and gives customers options that feel safe to them.

Contactless payment options make customers feel safer about dining out

Business owners can expect many Pandemic era practices to continue after reopening to customers. Among one of the most talked about changes is the continued popularity of contactless payment. Online and mobile payments, as well as curb-side pick-up, will play a huge role in creating a contactless experience your customers will love.

2. Customers feel their spending habits have changed since they last dined-out:

  • 60% of consumers say the pandemic has changed the way they buy goods and services
  • 72% of consumers say the events of 2020 have changed how they feel about handling cash, with people feeling anxious (26 percent); fearful (23 percent); and dirty (19 percent)
  • More than a quarter (29%) of consumers now say that cash-only is a deal-breaker for doing business

To accommodate changes in consumer behaviors, many businesses are investing in contactless payment options and integrating these tools into their existing POS systems. Oracle research shows that 69% of business leaders have invested in digital payment capabilities and 64% have created new forms of customer engagement or changed their business models in response to COVID-19

Self-service ordering and payment options will increase in popularity  

After months of online grocery shopping, curbside pick-ups and dining in, consumers who go back to dining out are eager to navigate their experience using their personal devices - from table reservations to viewing menus, ordering, and even paying online. Consumers expect this same level of flexibility to be available to them even after the return to in-person dining.

3. Most customers would prefer multiple ways to order and pay for their meals after restaurants reopen:

  • 40% would like the option to view menus and place orders from a personal device
  • 36% would like the option to reserve a table in advance from a personal device
  • 33% want contactless payment options from a self-service kiosk or tablet
  • 33% would like the option to pay for their meal directly from their personal device

But it doesn’t stop with payment options – businesses are also investing in self-service kiosks as a way to help keep lines under control and provide a faster and convenient hassle-free experience for consumers on the go. Customers place and pay for their own orders at kiosks and the order is sent directly to your kitchen. This enables totally contactless and frictionless service.

Customers prefer having multiple ways to contact restaurants directly

Third-party delivery aggregators were essential for helping businesses survive the sudden shift to off-premises dining. Many restaurants didn’t have their own online ordering and delivery systems in place to handle online ordering and delivery.

But many of these platforms charge small businesses steep commission rates, sometimes as high as 30% for every order placed through their platform. These practices have caused a gradual shift in consumer behavior as they become more aware of the real cost of ordering through third party apps.

4. Customers prefer ordering from restaurants directly, rather than through third party apps

  • 33% of consumers prefer to order from a restaurant directly over the phone
  • 33% of consumers prefer to order from a restaurant online on their website
  • 18% of consumers prefer to order from a restaurant via third-party apps
  • 15% of consumers prefer order from a restaurant via the restaurant’s app

Avoiding online delivery apps all together is easier said than done – and that’s why business owners are looking into moving their online ordering and delivery in-house as opposed to fully relying on third-party delivery apps. Business owners can use these tools to access to personalized data that can help them better understand revenue, new customer acquisition, and margin performance by channel. This information then helps operators make informed decisions about how to use third party aggregators to their greatest advantage.

Looking ahead with Oracle

Until there’s a clearer idea of when customers can safely make a full return to in-person dining, it’s in the best interest of restaurateurs to plan ahead. One challenge many restaurateurs face when investing in restaurant tech is the large upfront cost of switching to a new system. Oracle provides a flexible, modern solution to fit your business needs, at any size.

Oracle product experts are standing by to help create a solution that's right for your business. Get in touch and we can help you calculate your total cost of ownership so you can make an informed decision quickly. Schedule a free tour of Oracle MICROS Simphony POS Systems for restaurants and learn more about the benefits of switching to MICROS Simphony.

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