The COVID-19 pandemic has put digital solutions at centre stage in the consumer journey and hospitality’s safety precautions, but how have consumers reacted to this change when eating and drinking out? Zonal and CGA’s latest GO Technology report reveals its latest findings.
Before the pandemic, around a fifth (18%) of the 5,000 UK adults surveyed, said they typically used technology to order and pay for food and drink. However, that number has more than doubled to 43% since hospitality reopened in July emphasising the pivotal role that technology has played in hospitality since the end of the first lockdown.
And consumers have reacted positively to the new wave of order and pay technology. Just over three quarters (77%) say they have been satisfied or very satisfied with the ease of ordering, and even more (79%) with the ease and speed of payment.
Not surprisingly engagement with technology is much higher among younger adults with nearly two thirds of 18 to 24 year-olds (62%) cite they have used order and pay solutions since lockdown, but the number tails off significantly among older groups like 55 to 64 year-olds (32%).
Despite three quarters (74%) of consumers say they are willing download only one to five apps on their devices, the younger adults are much more likely to prefer mobile apps to websites.
The GO Technology findings emphasise the very close correlation between digital ordering solutions and customer concerns over safety. 40% of consumers say they feel safer in venues that use order and pay technology demonstrating how it has been an important tool in operators’ efforts to give people the confidence to eat and drink out during the pandemic. And this is a factor when choosing a venue with over a third (34%) stating they would be more likely to visit a venue that has order and pay technology.
Alison Vasey, Zonal’s group product director said ‘As the industry reopened, technology very quickly became the solution to a whole raft of new challenges which led to an increase in the demand and usage of self-ordering and payment solutions. What is clear from the research is that customers have embraced self order and pay systems and feel safe in venues who have adopted this technology. As usage continues to grow, operators will look to enhance the online ordering experience through additional features and personalisation to keep customers engaged with the platforms once COVID measures are eased.’
When asked about their reasons for using solutions beyond the pandemic around half of consumers cited convenience (53%) and ease of payment (47%) their top drivers for using order and pay technology. Other factors included not having to wait for staff to take orders (32%) and being able to see what they are ordering and the cost (30%).
The survey also highlighted that consumers need to know they can trust order and pay solutions before fully embracing them. 48% said they will only download an order and pay app in a venue if it is from a brand they know and trust. For operators, this reconfirms the importance of brand loyalty and working with technology partners that have a strong reputation or that can be trusted to protect brand integrity.
Karl Chessell, CGA business unit director, food and retail, said “The adoption of technology across hospitality has been one of the most eye-catching side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital solutions have been an integral part of hospitality’s efforts to show consumers they are in safe hands, and they will have another big role to play when we emerge from England’s second lockdown in December. With the right investment, it can give businesses an important edge as they recover from a very challenging 2020.”
Front of house teams share similar views to consumers as they see order and pay technology vital in promoting safe as well as pleasurable experiences. When asked hospitality professionals think helping people feel safer and reducing the need for social interaction are the two biggest benefits of digital solutions.
But they also emphasise the need to balance technology with human contact. More than half (58%) of professionals feel COVID-related safety measures have impacted the level of service they can provide. But this view is not shared by consumers, the research shows that nearly nine in ten (86%) think their interaction with staff is the same or better than it was before lockdown.
Zonal is a UK-based, family-owned, connected technology provider offering innovative solutions to a diverse range of 16,000+ businesses across the hospitality sector. With more than 100 partners and third-party partner applications, Zonal helps customers to streamline operations, maximise profits, exploit new revenue opportunities and enhance the guest experience.