Restaurants under pressure to serve up speed and convenience as ordering in and eating out soars, Barclaycard reports

New research from Barclaycard has revealed that busy Brits are demanding faster service and more convenient ways to pay when eating out and ordering takeaways for delivery. As dining habits change, the pressure is mounting on restaurant owners to respond with technology which balances both the need for speed with providing a more personalised dining experience.

Once reserved for a special occasion, more than a quarter of time-strapped UK adults (26%) now dine out at least once a week, rising to over a third (36%) amongst 18-34 year olds. Even when it comes to eating at home, one in seven (13%) consumers admit to ordering meals from restaurants through online tools and apps such as Just Eat and Deliveroo on a weekly basis – indicating that for many, takeaways are no longer simply considered a Saturday night treat.

Dining choices are changing mostly for convenience (56%) but also as a result of increased disposable incomes (28%) with restaurant spending reaching a 15-month high, up 14.9% year-on-year in August.

Slow service: enough to put consumers off their dinner

The research shows that the need for speed is causing customers to become more impatient when eating out, prioritising quick service (37%) over value (21%) and menu choice (33%).

What’s more, consumers report that slow service is the most frustrating part of the dining experience, with six in 10 (59%) losing patience when their food takes too long to arrive. When in a restaurant, almost half (49%) also become impatient when left to wait too long to pay at the end of their meal.

Technology: key to pleasing the ‘on-demand’ diner

In response to the impatient, convenience-driven diner, payment technology was identified as a crucial factor. Pressure is mounting on restaurants to offer a range of solutions to speed up the payment process, with consumers more likely to choose venues which offer contactless payments (15%), the option to pre-order and pay via an app for both delivery and eating in a restaurant (15%) or payment via mobile device at the table (14%).

Demonstrating the growing need to offer a range of payment options, 23% anticipate they will increase their usage of contactless cards and devices when dining out in the next 12 months, while a further 10% expect to pay using an app more often.

When it comes to paying the bill in a large group, technology is also invaluable for restaurateurs. Eighty five per cent of diners admit they often end up frustrated when eating out with friends or family, citing paying for more than they ate (31%) or alcohol they didn’t drink (31%) and having to figure out how much each individual spent (33%) as their key concerns. In response, customers are calling for bill-splitting apps or tools for large groups and automatic payment services similar to Uber where credit or debit card details are stored and payment is taken from the cardholder’s account automatically.

Diners would also like restaurateurs to make their experience feel more personal with a third (33%) more likely to choose somewhere to eat if they receive tailored offers based on personal data they have provided, such as free drinks for birthdays.

Sharon Manikon, customer solutions director at Barclaycard, said: “Time is of the essence for today’s busy Brits and this need for speed now seems to be translating to the dining experience. But instead of being a special treat, eating out and ordering food in are increasingly becoming the norm, with consumers turning to restaurants and delivery services to provide quick and easy meal-time options, whether it’s a bite to eat after work or a mid-week takeaway ordered from a mobile device on the move.

“As the restaurant sector enters a new era of ‘dining-on-demand’, the industry needs to respond with the right technology to improve the service and experience they provide, or risk getting left behind by their more savvy competitors. By introducing a personal touch, such as apps which allow diners to pre-order and pay for meals in advance, or tools that enable bills to be split per head, restaurateurs can ensure they keep customers’ appetites for enjoyable food and high quality service well and truly satisfied.”