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The Digital Age

Living in a society that is constantly evolving, we see new opportunities in everything. Every piece of technology created sparks an idea for the next, better version. For instance, consider the smartphone. It is hard to imagine a world without it. Yet, there was a time when cell phones couldn’t hold apps or send texts. When they didn’t have cameras or screens. Even when personal cell phones didn’t exist at all. Looking back on times before the new digital age shows just how far we have come in the span of two decades. 

However, looking back means nothing to some, as there is a new generation that has known nothing but smartphones and social media. Generation Z, our digital natives, have become the main targets of technological advances and media changes. Most susceptible to changing trends, this generation is the key to launching a new idea or innovation. The behaviors of this generation of consumers change as swiftly as the world does. They lead their peers, parents and grandparents into adopting these same behavioral shifts as well.

This new digital world has changed the behaviors of almost all consumers, of any age. These days, anything can be done online. There are apps for online dating, where you find the “right person” by simply swiping to the left or right. Websites for shopping, where you can scroll for hours exploring any store in the world. Websites for online doctors, where you can send photos, communicate with, and get advice from a doctor without ever leaving your bed. And lastly, marketplaces for online food ordering, where you can “eat out” without leaving your home. Suddenly, we don’t even need to step out our front door to live a functional life.

The Inevitable Changes in Consumer Behavior

As if we weren’t invested in the online world enough, there came a time where it was the only thing we had. The covid-19 pandemic’s effect on the world was beyond notable. Not only did it change the way businesses reached their consumers, but it changed the way consumers sought out businesses. Endless months of being stuck at home lead society to develop a “homebody” mindset. Leaving the house became too much of a task. It’s as if we forgot what human interaction felt like, so we discarded all need for it. Why go shopping, when you can purchase anything with the click of a button? Why go to work, when you can save time by doing it through zoom calls? Why go to a nice restaurant, when you can get it delivered straight to your door? Whether someone is sick, tired, hungover, lazy, or in a rush, there have always been reasons why someone would want home delivery. Only now these reasons are noticed, and the world has found a way to please every type of consumer mindset.

Yet the pandemic is not the sole reason consumer behavior has changed, it has only amplified the already lasting effects of this online world. More specifically, we can look at how food marketplaces (such as Uber Eats or Deliveroo) have had their hand in changing the way society views eating out and restaurants in general. And while food delivery is a great concept in the eyes of the consumer, it is not always a friend to the restaurant industry.

Imagine it’s a Friday night. You put on your best outfit and go meet some friends at the fanciest sushi restaurant in town. As you walk in you are led to a gorgeous table overlooking the city. Purple and blue hues set the tone of the evening, and the service is impeccable. You spend hours there; eating, drinking, talking, laughing, without even noticing the time go by. That restaurant will forever be marked in your mind with the good experience you had.

The emergence of marketplaces and food delivery has made it easy to forget why we enjoy eating at restaurants in the first place. Going out to eat has always been more than the food. It is the environment, the service, and the overall experience. Home delivery takes away profits and makes it hard for a restaurant to build customer loyalty. There is no such thing as “one more drink” when the service is provided through a courier. There is no “I need to bring my friend to this place” when the customer hasn’t even stepped inside themselves.

On another note, it is important to consider how addicted people are to their smartphones and social networks. Marketplaces themselves can even be considered addictive forms of “entertainment” media. They allow people to browse the world of eating opportunities such as delivery, promotions, restaurant ratings, and alternative foods. If a consumer doesn’t want to cook or leave their home, their immediate instinct is to check their favorite marketplace for something that catches their hungry eyes. They also receive promotional notifications and emails to draw them into the world of home delivery even when they aren’t thinking of it. When restaurants recognize this, they can remain prominent in this portion of the online world using promotional content and/or attractive images of food products.

The changing behavior of consumers is also changing the way food producers think. Rather than just selling their products in supermarkets, they are finding their own way into the world of food delivery. Oscar Mayers Sausage, for example, is no longer only found on grocery store shelves. They now use promotional efforts such as offering delivery of their hot dogs through marketplaces, creating a virtual brand for it.

In the end, the number of ways and reasons consumer behavior is changing can be endless. Demographically, the world population is growing at an exponential rate, with more than 7 billion humans. Women are working almost as much as men, meaning less “housewife” mothers and less time for cooking. People are having less kids, meaning bigger family spending and budgets. As a result of all of this, the demand for home delivery only increases. 20 years ago, everything would be different. The number of quick service restaurant brands was significantly lower, and more fast food chains were emerging. Now, all types of restaurants need to be prepared to offer their food in a compelling way. Success is no longer just in the food, but in the supply.

The following questions are examples of what a brand needs to consider as consumer behavior evolves: How can the consumer place an order? How to redue lines in the restaurant? How does it get to their home? How quickly will it get to their home? How can we build customer loyalty? What promotions can be used? And more…

These new consumer behaviors are having a rocking effect on the food industry, and are something for restaurants to act on. As marketplaces and digital media change the world of consumption, restaurants need to be ready to adapt to the new “online” standard.

Adapting With Society

Considering that consumer behavior will continue to evolve, it is very important for restaurants to adapt their services for new needs and wants. They have the opportunity to remain a step ahead by using innovative solutions that allow them to meet and exceed expectations, going from master chefs to master suppliers.

This opportunity includes offering an online ordering and delivery platform controlled by the restaurant itself. In doing so, they can leverage the marketplaces to get new customers by providing them incentives to bring them to buy directly through their own digital channel, automatizing all processes. If successful, orders would be going directly to the restaurants’ POS, eliminating operational issues and discrepancies. Zuplyit, a delivery SaaS platform for medium and large restaurant chains, offers all of this and more. It enables restaurants to run their own ordering and delivery systems, simplifying processes and increasing revenues.

Restaurants don’t have to solely depend on the greedy hands of apps such as Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Grubhub, and others if they learn to adapt with them. Zuplyit can help reach the ultimate goal: evolving with the changing behaviors of consumers in the present and the future while riding the wave to success.