While the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have lasted longer than many of us expected initially, the world remains confident that the virus will be beaten. Whether it fades away naturally, or a working vaccine is found, we will come out the other side of the pandemic and life will resume.
The virus may only touch us for a short time, but the changes it is making to consumer attitudes and business management will be felt for much longer. As QSRs, takeouts, bars and restaurants have adapted to remain open and safeguard their staff and customers, many have transitioned to digital technologies as an alternative to traditional serve and pay methods.
Prior to the pandemic, adoption of digital restaurant systems was already on the rise. US analysts predicted that evolving consumer expectations for menu solutions, dining experience and convenience — would intensify in 2019. While the interactive kiosk market grew at an average CAGR of 10.4 percent between 2013 and 2016 (various applications and industries), between 2016 and 2018, the volume of orders placed through mobile apps grew by 130 percent.
In June 2020, digital restaurant ordering by adults aged 65 and older increased 428 percent year-over-year. Six months on from a pandemic being declared, digital sentiment has never been more positive. In fact, there’s a rising belief that companies failing to make digital advancements may be those that struggle to survive in a society that is permanently altered. Customers have become dependent on digital technologies. From social media to online ordering, they’ve learned to embrace – and love – digital solutions. As social distancing restrictions are lifted, they’ll hope and expect to see brands diversifying their on- and off-premise digital ordering capabilities to suit their evolved expectations.
Given the speed at which we’ve reached this point, you might think the market would once again settle, perhaps even recede, yet it feels like we are now reaching a digital tipping point. When we look back on this time, we may see this as the moment that the door opened to a wave of fresh digital restaurant innovations. Greater use of robotics in the kitchen and front of house, dynamic menus and ever smarter data capture (allowing operators to connect with customers better than ever before) could all lie ahead. Equity analysts at Morgan Stanley Research agree; they’ve noted this historic inflection point and highlighted a dozen secular technology themes that could benefit from accelerating disruption, including contactless payments.
At this moment, it’s impossible to predict the exact path that digital ordering and payment systems will take within the restaurant market post-COVID-19. Doubtless, some customers will want to return to the ‘old way’, but more will want the tech disruption they’ve benefited from, to continue. COVID-19 will be our past, digital restaurant systems represent the future.
QikServe is committed to helping the Hospitality industry by supporting operators’ full range of digital ordering needs. If you’re in need of digital ordering or payment, let us know! We’re here to help.