As aggregators and restaurants start to test drones and sidewalk rovers to reduce the labor cost of on-demand delivery, consumers are not convinced they can trust these robots.
For PYMNTS’ exclusive report, “Connected Dining: The Robot Will Take Your Order Now,” we surveyed a census-balanced panel of nearly 2,000 U.S. consumers last month to get a sense of how interested they are in different restaurant technologies, and why or why not.
The study revealed that, for the most part, consumers are not on board with the delivery robots that are starting to take over sidewalks and skyways — 71% of those surveyed reported being uninterested in robotics or automated systems delivering food.
While the most common reason for that lack of interest is that consumers are worried about job loss and the lack of personal interaction, the second most common reason was that consumers do not trust these robots. Sixty-five percent of consumers who are not interested in robot delivery reported having concerns about reliability and order accuracy.
Consumers may not be interested, but restaurants and aggregators are enthused about the opportunity to meet diners’ delivery demand without the high costs of hiring human drivers. These businesses are counting on consumers changing their tune once they experience the technology.
Flytrex, a drone delivery service that has partnered with major companies including Chili’s parent Brinker International, is seeing high loyalty levels a year into its first test in Holly Springs, North Carolina, as Co-founder and CEO Yariv Bash noted in an interview with PYMNTS earlier this year.
“In Holly Springs, the first town we started operating in, a year after, we’ve managed to penetrate close to 60% of the households within range, so that means more than half the households downloaded the app and made at least one order,” Bash said. “One year after we started, we’re at roughly 50% retention — 50% of the households keep using the service. If you compare that to any other on-demand service, it’s exceptionally great.”
Meanwhile, Uber announced this spring that it is expanding its partnership with sidewalk delivery robotics company Cartken to offer autonomous fulfillment in Fairfax, Virginia’s Mosaic District shopping mall, building on the two companies’ existing collaboration, which kicked off in December with a pilot test of robotic delivery in Miami.