Cornell Study Finds Quick-Service and Fast-Casual Chains Gradually Making Use of Electronic Ordering

Mar 21, 2011

Contact:  Glenn Withiam, 607.255.3025,

Cornell Study Finds Quick-Service and Fast-Casual Chains Gradually Making Use of Electronic Ordering

Pizza chains are a large presence in internet-based ordering, with text and mobile software growing 
Ithaca, NY, March 21, 2011 – An analysis of the electronic ordering practices of the top 326 U.S.-based restaurant chains finds that fast-casual and quick-service restaurant (QSR) chains have moved forward with online ordering, although not on Facebook. The study, "Online, Mobile, and Text Ordering in the U.S. Restaurant Industry," by Sheryl E. Kimes and Philpp F. Laqué, is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at Based on their review of restaurants' ordering functionality, just under half of the fast-casual restaurants accepted online ordering—notably, pizza and sandwich chains—and just over one-fifth of QSR chains take online orders. Kimes is the Singapore Tourism Board Distinguished Professor of Asian Hospitality Management at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, where Laqué is a degree candidate in the Master of Management in Hospitality program. The study was sponsored by CHR and Nation's Restaurant News.

"Looking at mobile apps and texting, we found a somewhat mixed picture," said Kimes. "We found that the QSRs and fast-casual chains are relatively strong in mobile apps, but only about one-third actually took orders through mobile devices. Overall, just 16 percent of the restaurant chains we studied have a mobile app. We believe that this represents a great opportunity for the industry."

Laqué pointed to Facebook as another opportunity. "Although almost every chain is on Facebook, we found only about 3 percent allowed ordering through Facebook," he said. "On the other hand, electronic ordering is not for every chain. We found virtually no online ordering possibility for fine-dining restaurants."

In the report, Kimes and Laqué outline the advantages and challenges of electronic ordering. Advantages include the potential for increased sales, particularly through automatic upselling, while disadvantages include the possibility of overwhelming the kitchen with extra rush-time orders. Beyond those considerations, they note the heavy preference toward electronic ordering on the part of younger restaurant customers. The future likelihood is that customers will simply expect that they can place orders online or by text or mobile app.

A subsequent report in this series will present the results of a survey of U.S. consumers' attitudes toward and use of electronic ordering, and a third report will focus specifically on the experience of U.S. fast-casual and quick-service restaurants with electronic ordering.

Thanks to the support of the CHR partners listed below, all publications posted on the center's website are available free of charge, at

About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 81 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit

Center Senior Partners: Hilton Worldwide, McDonald's USA, Philips Hospitality, SAS, STR, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, and TIG Global

Center Partners: Davis & Gilbert LLP, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, Denihan Hospitality Group, eCornell & Executive Education, Expedia, Inc., Forbes Travel Guide, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Fox Rothschild LLP, French Quarter Holdings, Inc., HVS, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Jumeirah Group, LRP Publications, Maritz, Marriott International, Inc., Marsh's Hospitality Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Proskauer, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Schneider Electric, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc., Thayer Lodging Group, Thompson Hotels, Travelport, and WATG

Center Friends: • American Tescor, LLC • Argyle Executive Forum • Berkshire Healthcare • Center for Advanced Retail Technology • Cody Kramer Imports • Cruise Industry News • DK Shifflet & Associates • • EyeforTravel • Gerencia de Hoteles & Restaurantes • Global Hospitality Resources • Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) • • • Hospitality Technology Magazine • Hotel Asia Pacific • Hotel China • • Hotel Interactive • Hotel Resource • International CHRIE • International Hotel Conference • International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) • iPerceptions • JDA Software Group, Inc. • J.D. Power and Associates • Lodging Hospitality • Lodging Magazine • LRA Worldwide, Inc. • Milestone Internet Marketing • MindFolio • Mindshare Technologies • PhoCusWright • PKF Hospitality Research • The Resort Trades • Resort and Recreation Magazine • • Shibata Publishing Co. • Synovate • The Lodging Conference • The Wall Street Journal • The TravelCom Network • Travel + Hospitality Group • UniFocus • USA Today • WageWatch, Inc. • WIWIH.COM • Wyndham Green