Customers want to incorporate smartphone technology into their dining experiences, according to new research from the National Restaurant Association.

The research shows that the majority of Americans have used technologies such as touchscreen ordering, smartphone apps, and mobile payments while dining out, and “even more are interested in doing so if provided by their favorite restaurants.”

“Technology can add convenience and efficiency to the customer experience, as well as provide productivity benefits to restaurant operators,” Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research and Knowledge for the National Restaurant Association, said in a press release.

Here are some of the key research findings:

63% of adults have used restaurant-related technology options in the past month

More than two in five have used a smartphone to find restaurant locations and directions, or viewed menus and placed orders on a computer

One in five have ordered takeout/delivery or looked up nutrition information on a smartphone or tablet

Seven out of 10 consumers (in the 18-34 age group) have looked up locations and directions on a smartphone or tablet on the past month

Half of consumers (18-34) have used a computer to order food or make reservations

35% of consumers (18-34) has placed takeout/delivery orders on a smartphone or tablet

More than one-quarter of consumers (18-34) has used a smartphone to find nutrition information

Half of all adults say they would use a smartphone or tablet app to place takeout/delivery orders, while three-quarters of 18-to-34-year-olds agree

Half of all consumers say they would use restaurant rewards and special deals on a smartphone, while 70% (18-34) say they would

46% of all adults say they would use a smartphone to make a restaurant reservation or place an order at a touchscreen kiosk, with six out of 10 (18-34) indicated the same

24% of all consumers say they would use a smartphone payment option, while 43% (18-34) say they would

When asked in which areas they would most like to see restaurants adding technology options, customers rated loyalty programs and ordering at the top of the list followed by reservations, entertainment, and payments.

Consumers also ranked the most useful features of a restaurant smartphone app:

Location/direction

Viewing menus

Takeout/delivery ordering

Reservations

Loyalty/rewards programs

Gift cards

Social media connections

“There is a bit of a gap between what consumers want and what restaurants currently offer when it comes to technology, but more operators are working to close that gap,” Riehle said. “Following wider societal technology trends, we're seeing that younger consumers are much more likely to interact with restaurants on their smartphones than older adults. However, there is a substantial number of older consumers who say they would use smartphone apps for certain things, like looking up directions and finding nutrition information.”

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