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Digital food ordering accounts for 1.9B visits yearly: report

Digital food ordering is growing at a rapid rate, with an 18 percent growth since last year, according to a new report from The NPD Group.

The market for digital food service ordering has now reached a total 1.9 billion food service visits annually. This represents a significant opportunity for restaurants and food brands globally and nationally to take advantage of mobile applications that allow for digital ordering to reach more customers.

“Digital ordering is now really all about the mobile app,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst.

Mobile ordering
It has been well established that mobile has the potential disrupt industries.

From ride sharing to commerce, mobile devices that put the digital world at people’s fingertips wherever they are has shaken up more retail sectors than almost any other technology.

This is no different for the food industry, which has seen a massive influx of mobile food ordering options crop up in the last few years.

Mobile applications that let consumers order food from home for delivery have been popping up all over. From GrubHub to Seamless and Postmates, there is no shortage of digital food ordering options available.

This is supplemented by the first-party digital ordering capabilities provided by brands.

But while its rise is undeniable, hard facts still need to be quantified in order for brands to understand exactly how to respond to this new wave.

The NPD Group took a look at some of the statistic around digital food ordering to get a better idea of what the market looks like.

What it found was that digital food ordering is growing at a startling rate. The industry has seen almost 20 percent growth since last year alone and this number is only projected to grow as time goes on.

Moreover, currently digital food ordering accounts for 1.9 billion restaurant transactions every year.

NPD also took a deeper look at what kinds of meals were ordered and by whom. Around 50 percent of meals were ordered at dinner time compared to other parts of the day and 35 percent of users were parents.

Aside from parents, the majority of digital food ordering customers are higher-income and under 35.

Mobile has played a huge part in popularizing digital food ordering services.

Most of the big ones, including GrubHub, Seamless and Postmates are all mobile-first or at least have a strong mobile presence in the form of an app or something similar.

One of the biggest splashes to be made in this space was just recently when Amazon announced that it too would begin testing mobile ordering and delivery from restaurants (see story).

The addition of Amazon into any market is a significant shakeup for all involved, so participating brands and restaurants will have to come up with smart ways to stay ahead of the competition.

Mobile offers one solution by letting brands give customers personalized and contextualized order recommendations based on where they are that cannot be done as easily with desktop.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable using mobile apps, if restaurants or foodservice operators don’t have a mobile app, consumers may very well choose a restaurant that does,” Ms. Riggs said.