Bethesda, MD—March 6, 2024—Today Qu announced the results of its fifth annual survey of quick service (QSR) and fast casual (FC) restaurant brands, comprised of 179 brands and 62,000 locations.. 

According to the Qu 2024 State of Digital Report, QSR and Fast Casual restaurant guests can expect to see more kiosks in stores this year, as well as new mobile apps, and voice AI on the phone and in the drive-thru, which all topped the list of new ordering channels planned for 2024. 

Self-service preferences have emerged as key to helping brands manage labor challenges and increase sales. Report findings make it clear the future will be data-driven with API-centric platforms, new loyalty frameworks and more AI use cases emerging

The report also revealed the persistence of digital ordering for brands post-pandemic. After the spikes in recent years, restaurants reported that digital sales make up 26-50 percent of overall sales where they are expected to remain for the next few years.

"Brands have found the sweet spot mix of digital and in-person ordering after a roller coaster few years of getting their online house in order. Guests are more comfortable ordering on screens and from their mobile devices. Combine that with a tight labor market and we’re seeing a shift to self-serve ordering even in the store."

Key trends highlighted in the report:

Kiosks are making a comeback

Kiosks are the number one order channel to add with 44 percent of brands planning them in 2024. The top order channels restaurants plan to add in 2024 are:

  1. Kiosk
  2. Mobile app
  3. Expanded delivery partners
  4. Phone AI ordering
  5. Voice ordering in drive-thru

“Self-serve options give guests more choices and more control while driving higher check sizes, easing labor challenges, and lowering operating costs.  We expect this trend to continue into AI ordering over the next few years. It’s an exciting time,” Hudda added.

Fewer swings and surprises in digital sales

The new frontier is optimization of digital channels to drive profitability and healthy revenue growth. More than three quarters of brands (77 percent) increased digital sales in 2023, and 87 percent expect it to grow again in 2024. Digital ordering is still larger at fast casuals versus QSR. Nearly half of fast casuals achieved 26-50 percent digital sales, while nearly half of QSRs had 11-25 percent digital sales.

Loyalty 3.0 emerges, top tech investment for 2024

The vast majority (80 percent) of respondents say loyalty is not working for their brand. The report predicts a new data-centric loyalty framework will emerge with guest experience at the core.

Flexible platforms are the future

The shift to flexible API and data-driven platforms is well underway with 65% of respondents saying they plan—or already have—transitioned to a cloud-based, API forward unified ordering and commerce platform. These platforms are proving to deliver ROI through access to and normalization of data, unlocking capabilities for single source of truth and guest personalization.

"Overall the report revealed good news for the market. Brands have learned what is working for guests and are investing in modernizing and elevating the guest experience. As the economy and market settle into predictability we’ll start to see more innovation and a focus on technology for guest acquisition, loyalty, and ordering advancements.”

The Qu 2024 State of Digital Report is based on a survey of industry leaders at enterprise restaurant brands. More than 85 percent of the respondents were C-Suite, VP, or director-level executives at multi-brand, multi-unit operators with a minimum of 20 locations in the United States. 

About Qu

Qu is evolving restaurant POS to infuse speed, agility, and innovation into quick service and fast casual restaurant chains. Qu’s industry-leading, cloud-native Unified Commerce Platform connects the ordering, operations, and guest engagement functions; delivering the real-time data needed to drive loyal, repeat customers. Based in Bethesda, MD, Qu is backed by leading restaurant entrepreneurs and investors including Cota Capital, Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI), Bobby Cox Companies, and NRD Capital.

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