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What’s New in Digital Dining Trends? Convenience is King

You’re dining at a busy restaurant on a Thursday night and you can’t seem to get your server’s attention. All you want is to get a refill, order dessert or pay your bill. In another scenario, you’re facing down a late night at work and the fate of team dinner rests on your shoulders. No one feels like pizza, but it’s the only reliable delivery option available. Thankfully, these scenarios are less and less common due to rising technology such as tableside and online food-ordering services.

In a survey of Caddle users, 49% of respondents were still unsure about ordering from a tablet in a restaurant, and 66% still unsure about using food delivery apps. However, the relationship between dining and digital seem destined.

SkipTheDishes, which was founded in Saskatoon in 2012, was one of the first nationwide online food delivery networks and focused on secondary markets such as Burnaby, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Kitchener, Waterloo and Ottawa. In 2016, SkipTheDishes was acquired by Just Eat and continues to expand service in Canada to date, now serving alcohol in select markets.

Digital disrupter Uber, which forayed into food delivery in 2014, has quickly caught up. Earlier this year, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced that Uber Eats has a $6 billion bookings run rate and now serving 250 cities globally. Just this past August, Uber Eats expanded within Canada to 30 more communities including Victoria, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Halifax.

Trends in the qsr sector

Tableside reveals a similar trend. Just last year, Eater reported that US casual dining giant Applebee’s embraced tableside tablets at all of its nearly 2,000 US locations and are seeing a 70%+ interaction rate. What’s more, restaurants who are integrating mobile apps into their service are seeing reduced labour costs and higher earnings for each server (including tips) due to higher efficiency, reduced human error, quicker service and a more positive dining experience.

Earlier this year, QSR Magazine predicted that convenience would be one of five trends restaurants need to prioritize moving forward, and it appears the industry is listening.