Qu Releases 4th Annual State of Digital Report for Quick Service & Fast Casual Restaurants

Qu has released its fourth consecutive State of Digital Report with timely market and technology trends from the largest multi-brand, multi-unit operators representing over 37,000 locations. 

The top findings in the report center around 8 key trends enterprise brands can expect to see in the next 12-24 months—including investment priorities, top innovations, critical business challenges, and digital sales patterns. Noteworthy trends center around good news enterprise operators can expect—such as more predictable digital sales percentages—and tech solutions restaurant CxOs believe will create more consistent, efficient experiences for both guests and employees. 

Top 8 Digital Trends Shaping 2023

 A high-level summary of the top 8 digital and restaurant technology trends shaping 2023-2024 include: 

-Off-prem digital growth spikes are cooling down and settling into a more predictable pattern for QSR and fast casual brands. Digital sales growth will continue in 2023 and 2024, but at a more predictable rate. Average digital sales are 25% for the largest category of brands; with prior year top performers (50%+ from digital sales) continuing to stay above that impressive threshold. QSRs expect stronger digital growth in 2023 than their Fast Casual counterparts.

-Tech proliferation has generated a new trend towards platforming– 50% of operators reported they’ll make the move to a unified ordering system in the next 2 years. Improved data capture, integrations/APIs, and internal efficiencies were cited as top reasons for unified ordering systems and solutions.

"This does not mean one size fits all or a shift to one system for front and back of house. We want to give operators a choice and provide a platform that helps them reduce the complexities and inefficiencies associated with multiple ordering systems.”– Amir Hudda, Qu CEO

-Order inaccuracy is the biggest problem plaguing the off-prem guest experience, with 15-20% lower satisfaction rates reported by guests. 65% of operators are looking to solve inaccuracies with unified fulfillment systems and processes, using both AI and updated systems that drive labor efficiencies and improve accuracy.

-Technology investment priorities are shifting. Online ordering, which ranked as a top investment area for the previous 3 years, dropped down to the fourth investment priority, following Cloud POS, Platforms, and Mobile/Loyalty solutions. This signals healthy evolution and maturation for brands who’ve already solved for online ordering and again points to the new focus on more unified systems and data collection. Only 7% of brands said they can easily extract and use data to drive decisions.

-AI & Machine Learning sailed to the top of the innovations priority list with 70% of operators citing they’ll use it this year to increase efficiency, automated processes, profitability, and data collection/intelligence. In 2022, only 13% of operators selected AI/ML as a priority. After AI/ML this year, participants noted Robotics and Voice as other top innovation areas they’ll pursue.

"It’s exciting to see large enterprise brands starting to prioritize upgrading their foundational technology with a move to a true Cloud POS architecture. Our multi-year investments in Unified Commerce, Edge Computing, and AI/ML-driven products (Notify) are proving to be key components for enterprises looking to adopt modern technology." – Amir Hudda, Qu CEO

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