The Food Service Debrief

PSFK’s Food Service Debrief explores how the food service industry has leveraged technology to cater to changing consumer demands, giving customers the tools to control their own experience.

The 25+ page report presents 6 key trends, supported by best-in-class case studies and insights collected from the Food Service CX Survey, a survey of over 500 consumers conducted by PSFK and our quant research partner Suzy.

This survey of trends in the food service sector finds that consumers are now expecting cafes and restaurants to provide a customer experience like the companies they know in the on-demand service economy like Uber and Airbnb. The Food Service Debrief from PSFK also shows that some of the industry leaders — like Dominos — are responding to trends to provide perfect delivery of their products in ways that meet their customers’ personal tastes.


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Business intelligence platform PSFK found that there are key trends driving the fast casual dining experience. Those trends include:

Dynamic Menus - Developing responsive ordering platforms that analyze data like guest preferences, trending items and current weather or time of day to provide relevant in-the-moment recommendations.

Elevated Environments - Improving the dine-in experience with elevated store design, service and amenities that encourage guests to treat the space as a place to hang out, socialize and work, shifting the mindset from speed and efficiency to comfort and hospitality.

In addition to the trends research, by working with polling partner Suzy, the research companies surveyed fast-casual diners and found the following consumer insights that tapped into the trends:

  • People want their food anyway, anyhow: 78% of consumers say it is important or extremely important that restaurants offer multiple ways for them to order. 35% of consumers say their preferred mode of ordering is via mobile app.
  • Diners want their options designed just for them: 79% of consumers would be interested or extremely interested in receiving personalized menu recommendations based on their past orders or current context, such as time of day.
  • Folks want delivery to the places they hang out socially: 71% of consumers are interested or extremely interested in ordering from a restaurant that can deliver to a location outside of home or work.
  • They’ll share personal data as long as they get served better: 84% of consumers are somewhat or very willing to share their personal data, such as order history, in exchange for a better experience.

The 25+ page report includes:

  • Key insights on the new consumer expectations for food service
  • Results from our Food Service CX Survey of over 500 consumers conducted in partnership with Suzy, the consumer research platform
  • 6 trends that represent key opportunities to develop a dynamic customer experience that delivers on personal tastes, supported by 18 exemplary case studies
  • 5 strategic recommendations that food service operators and retailers in any category can apply to their business challenges
  • 1 in-depth interview with an industry leader who is pioneering a new model of food delivery
  • Additional content:

    • Summary presentation deck in PDF
    • Summary presentation deck in Keynote

This report is part of a series that PSFK has published on innovation in retail and along the customer experience journey.


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Insights From The Food Service Debrief

Analysis Food Platforms Like Uber Eats Are Opening Ghost Kitchens To Meet Demand

These four examples showcase a rising trend in the food service industry, where brands are investing in standalone kitchens for their online delivery orders to meet ever-increasing demand

Consumer Insights What Consumers Really Want From Restaurants? PSFK Asked

Working in tandem with Suzy, our insights show that diners are increasingly embracing choice, flexibility and convenience...

Analysis Top Food Service Retailers Like Shake Shack Are Elevating Their CX With Data & Analytics

From innovation kitchens that collect consumer feedback in real time to giving guests control over their data sharing, food industry innovators are enhancing their service through new types of data collection and analytics

Analysis How Fast Food Chains Like Taco Bell Are Elevating The Dine-In Experience

Cheaper food no longer means a sub-par dine-in experience—these three brands are elevating fast dining with great design, exclusive menus and thoughtful choices

Analysis 'Dig Inn' To How Leading Food Service Brands Are Elevating Their Delivery Game

From on-demand beachfront delivery to discounted group pooling with strangers, food establishments are redefining delivery means through unique innovations on the traditional restaurant-to-home model

Analysis How Restaurants Like Chipotle Are Shrinking Waits With In-Step Pickups

These brands are making mobile ordering even more convenient with dedicated areas meant for quick, effortless pickups

Analysis Five New Strategies For Restaurants And Retailers To Surprise And Delight Customers

From becoming a lifestyle partner to digital innovation, here are five key actions to transform your food service or any business for today's consumer landscape

Analysis How Innovators Like Starbucks Cater To On-The-Go Customers With Mobile Ordering

Leading food service brands are meeting busy customers' needs by enabling flexible and easily accessible mobile ordering and tracking

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Automotive RoboSense x Cainiao develop an autonomous delivery robot

Alibaba-owned logistics company Cainiao has partnered with Chinese robotics company RoboSense to develop an autonomous delivery robot. The unmanned wheeled robotic vehicle uses LiDAR to navigate, carrying packages at a pedestrian-safe speed of less than 10 miles per hour. It uses facial recognition technology to ensure that it has arrived at the correct recipient before opening the doors to its package locker.

Delivery & Logistics UPS Flight Forward to begin operating commercial drone delivery

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Food & Beverage H-E-B grocery retailer piloted autonomous delivery vehicle that can hold up to 32 orders

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Grocery, Convenience & Supermarket Walmart X Alert Innovation to pilot a first-of-its-kind automated system

Big box retailer Walmart partners with startup Alert Innovation to pilot a first-of-its-kind automated system called The Alphabot in its supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire, dedicated to improving the fulfillment of grocery pickup. Housed in a 20,000-square-foot extension connected to the store, the high-speed system delivers items to sales associates to assemble and deliver orders to customers. 

Retail Attabotics has developed a micro-fulfillment center

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