A new report from data and digital experts TWC has revealed the ‘must haves’ when ordering food online. ‘Ability to personalise your order’ came through as the number two priority for consumers, reflecting its increased importance.

The report also highlighted the high volume of takeaways being ordered by UK consumers, with more than half of the adult population (that’s over 30 million people) having had a takeaway this Autumn. With the threat of further restrictions looming, it feels unlikely this trend will abate.

Most takeaways are ordered online – half of consumers who said they’d had a takeaway typically order online and a further quarter have ordered via a combination of online and in-person, highlighting the huge importance of getting the online experience right.

Sarah Coleman, Communications Director for TWC, explains the key ‘must haves’ when it comes to online ordering of food:

“Our report explored the elements that were of most importance to consumers and it will come as absolutely no surprise that the number one requirement was the ability to order and pay quickly and easily.”

“This was followed by the ability to personalise an order, something we know is increasingly important in every channel, as the value of data is increasingly recognised and integrated into marketing activities. The ability to customise orders and remember previous purchases opens up the opportunity for making recommendations and potential up-sell.”

Another important point for operators to note is the importance of ratings and reviews, which were considered very or quite important by 81% of respondents. Reflecting an important barrier to future purchase, the ability for apps and websites to only offer those items that are currently available also fell into the top ‘must haves’ for ordering food online, to avoid the disappointment of undelivered or substituted items

The report also revealed that some technologies have been adopted across the generations, for instance the uptake of QR codes and live streaming is fairly consistent across all age groups, at 35% and 25% respectively. However, other technologies such as Apple/Google Pay, voice search and buying items directly from social media are all biased towards the younger shopper.

Coleman adds:

“Our research showed that 41% of 18–34-year-olds had used Apple/Google Pay in the last month (vs. 25% for all consumers) and one in five of the younger aged consumers have purchased an item from a social media post on Instagram, TikTok or Facebook.”

“Meanwhile, the use of video and cutting-edge technology such as Augmented Reality are both effective for showcasing products, with 43% of consumers agreeing AR is very or quite important when ordering food/drinks online – and increasing to 51% of the younger age cohort. However, only 2% have seen Augmented Reality in practice, representing a huge opportunity for operators to embrace this technology.”

This research on “Online explosion: the digitalisation and delivery of food and drink and its impact in the convenience and foodservice sectors” is the second in a series of new mini reports from TWC Trends.  The TWC Trends Autumn Edition 2021 series is based on the views and sentiments of over 1,000 consumers across the UK. The research was conducted between 5-8 November 2021.