Execs predict increased usage of near-me, voice searches to…

| by Cherryh Cansler
Execs predict increased usage of near-me, voice searches to make dining decisions

Editor’s note: FastCasual interviewed executives from a variety of tech vendors to reveal some of 2019’s most promising tech trends. Part 1 of this series featured executives from Paytronix andCoInspect.

From the explosion of near-me searches to consumers demanding more options, this year’s tech trends are all about meeting the customer where and when they want, according to Tehsin Daya, VP of Business Development at Uberall; and John Moezzi, national account manager, NEC Display. See below for their predictions.

Tehsin Daya, Uberall, VP of Business Development
As a provider of location marketing technology, Uberall is counting on the explosion of “near-me searchers.” He also predicted that: 1. Voice adoption will grow, and 2. more companies will monitor customer reviews.

Near-me searches willcontinueto grow. Over the past year, near-me searches have exploded — especially on mobile. In fact, more than 80 percent of consumers have done a near-me search on their mobile device. This number is staggering, and it’s likely to grow in 2019. It also means that “near me” search is a key factor that franchisees and QSRs should pay extra close attention to moving forward. The reason is that consumers now find more stock in proximity and convenience — even more than brand loyalty. 

What’s more, as people opt to keep GPS and location services on when using their device, they’re in better position to take advantage of proximity-based searches. Looking ahead, near-me search offers tremendous opportunity for both franchisees and QSRs that’s worth paying attention to.

Voice adoption will grow: In three years, voice search may make up 50 percent of all searches. For brands keeping up with SEO best practices, this new method of search is a game-changer. It’s a relief to know that many of the functional differences between voice and standard search are subtle. However, the result of performing well in voice search can mean less competition and more sales for businesses ready to take on the challenge. Voice search is changing the game for SEO by taking the need for screens out of the equation. Since digital assistants only tend to relay a single answer to voice-search requests, the brand that fulfills that top answer could feasibly multiply the number of consumers visiting their locations. 

In the New Year, expect more brands to optimize their website’s keywords for voice search, to be present across more business listings and multiple search engines, maps, and apps, and to optimize search relevance with positive reviews. These three tactics will maximize findability among voice searches.
Increased monitoring of customer reviews: Almost one-third of consumers believe that online reviews are important. And as people keep spending more time on their mobile devices, it’s easy for them to look at reviews before deciding to spend money somewhere. Further, 65 percent of consumers believe that stores should respond directly to customer reviews. This means that QSRs and franchisees will have to spend more time checking them and responding if they want to win over potential customers. But it doesn’t stop there. Customers aren’t going to be satisfied with a generic response from an establishment. They’re also looking for personalization to show that they really care about them. So brands and franchisees will have to keep providing thoughtful responses to online customer reviews if they want to win over new customers and keep the existing ones happy.
John Moezzi, national account manager, NEC Display
NEC, a company known for providing self-order kiosks, has seen demand for kiosks increase. Moezzi said he and the company have realized that: 1. Consumers want options when ordering, and 2. Delivery is where it’s at.

Consumers want options when ordering: Gone are the days when consumers were limited to ordering in person or over the phone with a restaurant employee. Consumers today expect more options. Touchscreen (and even facial recognition enabled) kiosks, web and mobile are methods that consumers expect restaurants to provide for ordering. Fast Casual restaurants must embrace these methods. These ordering methods must also be tied to loyalty programs that offer personalization and rewards. 

Delivery is where it’s at: Consumers today expect immediacy and convenience. Just as ordering needs to be as frictionless as possible, delivery options must also be frictionless for today’s stay-at-home consumer. Consumers want to experience products where they are and not necessarily where the fast casual restaurant is physically located. Third-party delivery services, like GrubHub, DoorDash and UberEats, with simplified ordering processes will continue to gain in popularity with consumers and grow as revenue sources for restaurants.

Cover photo: iStock

Topics: Systems / Technology, Trends / Statistics

Companies: Grubhub, Paytronix Systems, Inc.

Cherryh Cansler

Before joining Networld Media Group as director of Editorial, where she oversees Networld Media Group’s nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she’s written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness. Her byline has appeared in a number of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for FastCasual.com.

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