A recent study of U.S. consumers found that nearly half of them have ordered food online, but the telephone call remains the number-one way to order in. The study, "Customer Perceptions of Electronic Food Ordering," was written by Cornell Professor Sheryl E. Kimes with research support by Nation's Restaurant News and is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/research/chr/pubs/reports/2011.html.

"There's no question that electronic ordering is growing," Kimes says. "This study's respondents said that they place just under 40 percent of their orders online or by mobile apps. We'll see further increases in those numbers. Restaurant operators especially need to note that the people who order electronically tend to be younger and patronize restaurants more than those who don't."

Perceived control and convenience are key to customer use of online ordering. Consequently, restaurateurs must ensure that their ordering systems give users perceptions of control and also be convenient.

The study found that the major factor that inhibits those who have not ordered via an electronic channel is a desire for interaction with a restaurant employee, although discomfort with technology is also a factor. 


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