Appetize Contactless Technology Survey Reveals Customer Trends and Preferences

Nov. 18, 2020

A survey conducted by Appetize reveals consumer preferences with contact payment technology in restaurants, stadiums and more.  

Due to Covid-19, contactless payment technology is rising in demand—both for consumers and businesses alike—faster than expected. In fact, more CEOs of major companies are noting its significant growth, like Apple CEO Tim Cook. "This contactless payment has taken on a different level of adoption. And that I think we'll never go back," Cook said during Apple’s 4th quarter earnings call on October 30. 

In Business Insider’s recent Mobile Order-Ahead and Delivery Payments & Commerce report, the pandemic pushed digital technology for pickup, delivery, and in-person dining in restaurants, “bringing penetration to levels not expected until 2023.” 

From restaurants to retail, contactless payments, mobile ordering and digital technology are becoming “the new normal” for businesses now and into the future.

Mobile Ordering Trends

Americans use their phones every day, but many go beyond the typical phone calls, texts and web browsing. 

According to the survey, over 74% of Americans use their phone to order and pay for food and merchandise at least once a week, with nearly 48% using their phones for purchases several times a week or more. 

The No. 1 reason Americans use mobile ordering? The sheer convenience. In fact, 44% Americans said convenience was the most important factor for ordering and paying for food and merchandise with their phone. Ease of use (18.6%) and avoiding going into stores (18.3%) were also top reasons.

In the survey, more than half of Americans (54.8%) use their phone for online retail (ie: Amazon). Food app/restaurant delivery was the second most popular (25%) and In-store purchase, such as “tap to pay” at checkout came in No. 3 at 9.3%. 

While mobile ordering has been on the rise in America, mobile payments have not become the preferred method of payment during Covid-19. Americans still prefer using credit cards (55%), with payment using a mobile phone coming in No. 2 at 16.37%.

Holiday Shopping Trends

Americans would shop in-store for the holidays if contactless payments were offered, and cash is becoming less commonly used for payment with shoppers, according to the survey. 

Almost half of Americans (49%) would do in-store holiday shopping if contactless payments, like mobile ordering, self-service kiosks, and tap-to-pay credit cards, were offered. The contactless technology they would most like to see their favorite store, restaurant and venue offer is mobile ordering (44%). Tap-to-pay credit card machines came in No. 2 at 20.3% with self-service kiosks coming in at 18.5%. 

58.5% of Americans said they are more likely to support a business if it offers contactless payment, with 36% of Americans saying they were neither more likely nor unlikely.

During Covid-19, credit cards (55%) was the preferred method of payment versus mobile phone (16%), tap-to-pay cards (13%) and cash (12.5%). While nearly three quarter Americans (73%) have paid for some merchandise, food, beverages or services with cash since Covid-19, 41% Americans paid less frequently with cash during Covid-19. 

77% of Americans said they will prefer to pay for merchandise, food, beverages and services with contactless payments once Covid-19 is over, showing the decline in cash payments will continue after Covid. 

55% Americans currently use their phone to purchase online retail versus food app/restaurant (25%) and in-store purchases (9.3%).

Stadiums / Sports Trends

In the survey, it’s apparent Americans care about social distancing at stadiums, and mobile ordering is important for them, too. 

When it comes to contactless technology, more than half (51%) Americans want to use mobile ordering directly from their seats, versus 18% self-service kiosk at concessions, 3.8% hawkers with handhelds, and 26% all of the above. 55% expect to use mobile ordering in stadiums post Covid-19, and it may become integrated more as the trend for mobile ordering at stadiums continues to rise.

The No. 1 reason why fans like to use mobile ordering in stadiums? Avoiding waiting in concession lines (39%). 30% Americans responded “convenience of ordering food/beverage directly from their seat”, and 17% said mobile ordering “helps avoid contact with staff.”

While Americans found mobile ordering ideal at stadiums, social distancing during Covid-19 was still a priority for fans. Since teams are playing to empty stadiums, with only a few welcoming back fans, Covid-19 still has influence over fans returning to the games—and while mobile ordering helps social distancing, it’s only part of the equation. 34% Americans responded “I’m not sure” when asked if they would be willing to attend a game sooner if mobile ordering was offered (33.5% said no, 32% said yes). Almost half Americans (46%) said social distancing was important for them when attending a live event (versus 24.6% very important, 19% somewhat important, 5.5% not so important, and 3.8 percent not at all important). 

When will fans likely attend their next live sporting event? 34.9% said “I’m not sure” while 17.8% responded “some time in 2021.” 15.9% will return when there is a Covid-19 vaccine, and 14% will return “as soon as my local stadium opens for fans.” 

The survey also found that nearly three quarter of Americans (74%) would like to see better ordering technology enhancements (like self-service kiosks and mobile ordering) at stadiums. 

Restaurant Trends

As more restaurants pivot to contactless technology to accommodate the demand from guests, they can rest well knowing they’re meeting those demands. 

In the survey, three quarter (75%) of Americans think restaurants are doing enough to offer contactless payment technology. Only 13% Americans believe restaurants are not doing enough. 

When it comes to the technology offered at restaurants, almost half (45%) Americans prefer to view the menu, order, and pay with their phone rather than interact with waitstaff during Covid-19. 40% of those Americans would want to continue doing this once Covid-19 is over. 

Diners may be seeing more self-service kiosks at their favorite restaurant soon. More than half Americans (57%) want to see self-service kiosks at their favorite restaurants. The main reason why? Convenience. In fact, 39% Americans respond that “convenience” is the most important factor, followed by “no interaction with staff” (19%), and “more time to browse the menu” (14%). Do Americans want to use self-service kiosks the next time they visit their favorite restaurant? Yes, 44% Americans would like to, versus 23% who said no. 

As for quick-serve restaurants, 71% prefer self-service kiosks over interacting with a person at least some of the time. Only 19% responded that they prefer a person. 

The other technologies that Americans would like to see on their next visit to a restaurant are: Tap-to-pay at checkout at the counter (43%); mobile ordering directly from their car in the parking lot (40%); curbside pick-up (38%) and waiters with handheld devices (34%). 

Nearly half of Americans (48%) would dine at a restaurant more often if it offered a brand loyalty program (versus 14% no and 32% maybe). 

The most important factor for Americans to join a brand loyalty program? Discounts and special offers for future visits (54%); free food (27.5%); reaching a certain tier in a program (10%) and getting news and updates (5%). 

Americans Like Self-Service

Almost 72% of Americans said they prefer self-service kiosks at quick service restaurants over interacting with a person.

57% said they would like to see more self-service kiosks at their favorite restaurants.

45% said that they would prefer to use their phone when dining at a restaurant rather than interact with waitstaff during Covid, and 40% said that they would still prefer to use their phone rather than interact with waitstaff after Covid.

Survey methodology: Appetize and SurveyMonkey polled 2,081 U.S. adults between 18 and 70 years old in the U.S. for the Contactless Technology Survey on October 19-20. The survey was conducted online.