Not too long ago, back in 2011, the Cornell School of hotel administration did a large study called The Current State of Online Food Ordering in the U.S. Restaurant Industry. Some of these statistics, recorded only 8 short years ago, are shocking and revealing. When I went back and read this research document, I was stunned at just how quickly the restaurant world has changed. 

  •  In 2011, only ¼ of U.S. restaurants had adopted online ordering. Today, only 8 years later, virtually every national restaurant chain utilizes online ordering. In some cases, restaurants will not even accept phone orders.
  • The average receipt derived from those few online orders, at that time, was approximately $20.00. Our average receipt here at TakeOut7 is now $31.47. Even though I can compare the same exact restaurants to the study at Cornell, you should note that TakeOut7 has a large base of orders and restaurants across all segments. Just imagine, a 57% increase in only 8 years! That’s a tremendous amount of growth in such a short period of time!
  • In 2011, 52% of takeout orders came from phone order and 41% came from ordering in-store while less than 10% came from online ordering. Today, the top 4 pizza chains in the U.S. earn more than 60% of their total revenue from online ordering. This change happened in only 8 short years!
  • In 2011 only 20% of all the restaurants in the U.S. were capable of accepting online orders, and that included chain restaurants. As you know, today virtually all chain restaurants in the country not only accept, but expect online ordering as a huge part of their total sales.

That was the state of affairs related to the restaurant’s side of online ordering in 2011 compared to today’s. From the consumer and customer’s standpoint, things really haven’t changed that much in the dining industry, with the exception that online ordering is now ‘expected’ at virtually every restaurant. Most Americans have a smart device of some kind, or a computer and internet readily available, which makes online ordering even more convenient than ever. 

One of the biggest things to take away from this study is that online ordering options are going to continue to expand. Along with this, consumer’s expectation that restaurants in their area will offer online ordering is going to continue to increase. Another thing to take note of is that the digital environment is having a much greater impact on the restaurant industry. 

Here are some of the consumer stats from that 8 year timeframe. As you’ll notice, their expectations and responses have only been increasing since the 2011 Cornell study was done. When consumers in 2011 were asked why they ordered takeout online, their responses were similar to today’s consumers, except that today’s customers expect the same services on a greater scale:

  1. Convenience …….. From nice to have, to need to have. 
  2. Speed………………… Consumers have become   as time has worn on.
  3. Order accuracy….. Consumer’s exact order vs. orders taken by restaurant employees answering the phone.
  4. Easy to use…………. Consumers simply don’t want to talk to someone at the restaurant any longer.
  5. Credit card acceptance for online ordering…………. Consumer have become uncomfortable with reading a card number over the phone. Providing them with a secure, online portal that they can enter their information into makes them feel more comfortable. 

2011 seems like it was just yesterday. However, just look at how much this sliver of customer attention has changed. When we look through reports like this, it provides us with valuable information that we can utilize to keep up with our competitors. It’s so important to stay on top of trends like this. If you don’t, then you run the risk of being left behind. Consumer trends, marketing trends and customer needs are always changing.