Restaurants’ Tech Investments Drive 11% YoY Increase in Digital Engagement


In recent years, the culinary industry has been making ardent efforts to ensure that its offerings are readily accessible through digital platforms by expanding delivery and pickup options. To this end, fast-food giant McDonald’s has adopted a geofencing strategy that utilizes location-based technology to reduce waiting times and increase order pickup adoption. The restaurant chain is updating its mobile order and payment capabilities to alert back-of-house staff when mobile order-ahead customers are in close proximity to the store. This enables the kitchen staff to prepare the order beforehand, ensuring that it is warm and ready for the customer upon arrival. This innovative approach is aimed at enhancing efficiency and providing an improved customer experience.

In an email, McDonald’s USA stated, “We’re committed to consistently delivering a fast and more seamless experience for fans using the McDonald’s app.” The company has already introduced app updates aimed at streamlining the mobile order experience for customers who prefer curbside, table service, or in-store pickup.

On the other hand, casual dining chain Hooters is venturing into the virtual brand arena in a bid to expand its digital customer base. By integrating virtual brands into its offerings, Hooters is attracting a new demographic of consumers who may not have previously ordered from its core brand. According to Marc Butler, Hooters’ Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning/Off-Premises, the data shows that about 75% of virtual brand customers have never ordered from Hooters before. Speaking to PYMNTS in an interview, he said, “I was really expecting a little bit more overlap. But it seems that still, even to this day, three, four years later, we’re still attracting a new customer with it.”

According to research conducted by PYMNTS, digital restaurant engagement has increased by 11% over the last year. The research was conducted through a census-balanced panel of over 4,000 US consumers and is part of the latest edition of the ConnectedEconomy™ series, titled “ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: The Evolving Digital Daily Edition,” which was published in February. The research revealed that an additional 14 million consumers have started ordering food online, indicating the success of these digital initiatives.

In conclusion, it is evident that the culinary industry has been making significant strides in its efforts to enhance digital accessibility, a strategy that has proved highly effective. By adopting innovative measures such as geofencing and incorporating virtual brands, companies such as McDonald’s and Hooters have been able to expand their customer base, streamline their operations, and offer a better experience to their patrons. The future looks bright for the industry as it continues to leverage technology to make its offerings more accessible and appealing to a broader audience.

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