Of just curbside, Taco Bell credited its inspiration as “another convenience alternative that modern consumers are looking for.”
The whole design is built that way. As Rakuten said, customer experience imagined with a digital backbone.
81 percent: Americans who own a smartphone. This has zero chance of going anywhere but up as younger generations mature into the marketplace.
34 percent: People who own a smart speaker. Perhaps this technology will change. Is it fading, though? If anything, consumers are finding more ways to connect themselves and the technology in their homes and daily routines.
About 3 hours: How long Americans spend on their smartphones per day. The real kicker: its more than they spend watching TV. And if you think people are putting phones down to solely focus on their favorite shows (and commercials, if applicable), it’s a pipedream.
For restaurants, this is manifesting in app proliferation and the ability to connect with customers where they spend the majority of their mental energy. In a previous study from Bluedot, 88 percent of respondents said they were using mobile more than before. And they were using mobile plenty pre-COVID.
Jersey Mike’s CMO Rich Hope said the sandwich brand saw some 1.2 million app signs-ups in a matter of weeks at one point during the pandemic. It made the chain rethink text and email programs of old. “You send out notifications and there is a reaction,” Hope said of the app’s leverage.
Early on, Jersey Mike’s tested waters by staggering alerts, say five times throughout a day, and seeing if online orders jumped. Hope said there was a spike “every time we sent a notification.”
“Notifications are just impactful,” he said. Unlike email, customers have to do something with a notification. “You’ve at least got to dismiss them,” Hope added.
The reinvention of the brick-and-mortar experience.
Driven in large part by competitive threats and significant changes in consumer shopping patterns, Rakuten said, restaurants are witnessing the early stages of a fundamental transformation of the role of the brick-and-mortar store.
This is true of other industries, too, like grocers, where Kroger is investing in highly automated “sheds” as large as 350,000 square feet to satisfy online ordering for pickup and optimize the fulfillment experience. Other grocers are betting on micro-fulfillment centers often connected physically to stores.
But zeroing on restaurants, the best place to start is the drive thru. A host of brands, from McDonald’s to Burger King to KFC to the aforementioned Taco Bell, are concepting units without dining rooms in an effort to capture a growing occasion. And perhaps the most underserved angle is how to do so without blending into the field. Beyond just saying, “we’ll see more drive thrus in the future and smaller dining rooms,” expect these brands to use technology to reinvent the experience. AI and personalization. Upselling through tech, not training. McDonald’s, for one, is working on ways to streamline transactions through automated ordering and payments made by identifying customers at the display screen.