The fast food sector has undergone a large shift in recent years, driven by the growth of digital ordering and delivery. Over just six years, demand for fast food delivery has skyrocketed by over 600%, according to market research firm NPD Group. This surge in demand is fueled by a confluence of factors, including the increasing prevalence of smartphones, the widespread adoption of mobile apps, and the growing preference for convenient, contactless ordering options.

The impact of this digital revolution is evident in the financial performance of major fast food chains. In 2021, revenue from digital orders jumped by a remarkable 17%, highlighting the growing reliance on digital channels for fast food transactions. This trend is expected to continue, with digital sales projected to reach an impressive 60-70% of total sales among top chains by 2025, up from the current range of 40-45%.

Key Drivers of Digital Transformation

Several key factors are driving the transformation of fast food delivery:

  • Convenience and Speed: Digital ordering and delivery offer a seamless and time-saving experience, allowing consumers to order their favorite meals from the comfort of their homes or offices, without the need to wait in line or drive to a restaurant.

  • Personalization and Customization: Digital platforms enable fast food operators to collect valuable customer data, which can be used to personalize menu recommendations and tailor offers to individual preferences. This level of personalization enhances the customer experience and encourages repeat patronage.

  • Contactless Ordering and Payment: The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the adoption of digital ordering and delivery, as consumers sought contactless options to minimize physical interactions and reduce the risk of infection. This trend has persisted even as pandemic restrictions have eased, with many consumers now preferring the convenience and safety of digital transactions.

Industry Leaders Embrace Digital Strategies

In response to the surging demand for digital ordering and delivery, industry leaders are embracing innovative strategies to enhance their digital offerings and strengthen their competitive positions. Here are some notable examples:

  • Taco Bell: Taco Bell has set an ambitious goal of doubling its digital sales to $8 billion by 2023. This growth is being fueled by a combination of factors, including personalized offers tailored to rewards members and the introduction of convenient features like curbside pickup.

  • McDonald’s: Following its acquisition of data personalization firm Dynamic Yield in 2019, McDonald’s has witnessed a remarkable surge in digital sales, with over 30% of its global revenue now generated through digital channels. This success is attributed to a combination of factors, including its extensive mobile app subscriber base of over 6 million and its widespread deployment of in-store kiosks across its 40,000-restaurant global network.

  • Domino’s Pizza: Domino’s Pizza has long been a pioneer in digital ordering and delivery, and the company continues to innovate in this space. In recent years, Domino’s has launched a variety of new features, such as voice ordering and delivery tracking, to further enhance the customer experience.

The Future of Fast Food Delivery

The future of fast food delivery is undoubtedly digital. As technology continues to evolve and consumer preferences shift, digital channels are poised to play an even more dominant role in the fast food sector. Fast food operators that embrace digital transformation and prioritize customer convenience, personalization, and safety will be well-positioned to thrive in this rapidly changing landscape. Check out some of these statistics:

  • Over 600% growth in demand for fast food delivery in just six years (NPD Group)

  • 17% increase in revenue from digital orders in 2021

  • Projected 60-70% of total sales among top chains to be generated through digital channels by 2025 (up from 40-45% today)

  • Over 30% of McDonald’s global revenue now generated through digital channels

  • Over 6 million mobile app subscribers for McDonald’s

  • 40,000 in-store kiosks deployed by McDonald’s globally

  • Taco Bell’s goal of doubling digital sales to $8 billion by 2023

The digital transformation of fast food delivery is a force to be reckoned with. As consumers increasingly embrace the convenience, personalization, and safety of digital channels, fast food operators must adapt their strategies to keep pace. By investing in innovative digital technologies, prioritizing customer data and insights, and fostering a culture of digital innovation, fast food businesses can secure their place in the future of the fast food sector.