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A survey of the top 326 U.S. restaurant chains in all categories finds the industry gradually adopting electronic ordering, in the form of online, mobile, and text orders. Quick-service chains, most notably those selling pizza, and fast-casual chains are far ahead of other segments in adopting electronic ordering, particularly using online approaches. Mobile apps are less common, although their use is growing. Although order-placing functionality is limited for mobile apps, the fast-casual chains are leading the way in allowing customers to place orders. Nearly all restaurant chains have a Facebook presence, but just 3 percent allowed ordering through that channel. The advantages of electronic ordering include increased sales, particularly through automatic upselling and by storing order information so that customers are encouraged to repeat their previous orders with a single click. Other than the cost of installation and operation, the chief disadvantage of electronic ordering is the potential for amplifying rush time volume, with the potential of overwhelming the kitchen. Creating a separate line for electronic orders and pickups is one way to address that problem.


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