Fast food in Australia
Using tech to make fast food even faster

Australia's casual dining and quick service restaurants (QSRs) have a tremendous opportunity. Increasingly, Australians are finding QSRs and casual dining options fit their lifestyles - driving them to make QSRs a regular part of their everyday dining experience and generating sales of almost $30bn. However, with over 85,000 QSRs competing for the busy Australian’s dollar, QSRs must harness technology to build customer experiences that turn hangry customers into happy customers. In this whitepaper, we break down the technologies and opportunities that QSRs can utilise to grow their business. 

The QSR customer decoded

There’s no doubt about it, competition in the Australian foodservice industry is fierce and getting fiercer.

Increasingly, QSR customers can be both demanding and fickle. Busy with work, family, and the obligations of daily life, they’re choosy with how they spend their discretionary dollars. Their expectations are high and their loyalty low. The moment their favourite outlet fails to perform, they’ll defect to another. Winning QSRs must therefore play smart - starting with a nuanced understanding of customer needs, preferences, and habits. 
According to recent research, two-out-of-three Australian retail shoppers have left a restaurant and abandoned their purchase(s) due to long lines and wait times.1 However, 41% report that a short wait or no queuing options would encourage them to choose one restaurant over another. Among QSR customers specifically, 9% say that short queues would heighten their loyalty. Getting customers through the door is no longer enough. In today’s tight market, operators must also find innovative ways to keep them there once they arrive - and perhaps spend a little more while they do.

Also, diners across all channels are choosing to order their meals in digitally-enabled ways. Although this behaviour is primarily seen in the millennial segment, whose preferred payment methods are almost exclusively digital, this behaviour is rising among almost every demographic, according to NPD CREST® data.

The opportunity for QSRs

Against the backdrop of low wage growth, “enticing consumers to direct their limited disposable dollars toward out-of-home meals is a very real challenge,” explains Seton Leung, head of Australia Foodservice at The NPD Group. 

Through the end of September 2019, the QSR channel experienced 1% growth in traffic and a 2% increase in average spend, with dinner driving more than half (61%) of those gains.3 Additionally, both food delivery and pick-up are on the rise, especially among families and groups consisting of only adults. These upticks suggest they still enjoy treating themselves to meals they don’t need to prepare themselves. This is particularly good news for QSRs capable of leveraging convenience and affordability, while catering to their consumers’ needs and desires. 

Forward-looking QSRs who are in-it-to-win-it will seize opportunities to capitalise on emerging trends and digital capabilities that are already sweeping the retail vertical. By pushing the boundaries of the customer experience, and enhancing their on- and off- premise interactions through technology-driven business intelligence, these QSRs can delight customers and foster loyalty - and translate both into increased traffic, spend, and profit. 

What’s covered in this paper

NPD CREST® data has uncovered five key trends in today’s Australian QSR space. Some are consumer behaviours; some are emerging technologies. At the intersections of both lie significant opportunities for growth. In this paper, you’ll discover a strong case for adopting a comprehensive digital strategy in order to remain competitive in a tight market.


  • Australians love them
  • Traffic share is growing by double digits PCYA
  • Consumers choose them for convenience, value, and the user experience
  • Decrease customer wait times
  • Personalise the ordering experience
  • Increase order size and spend

Pick-up & Delivery

  • Driven by families
  • Dynamic combined growth of 17%
  • Consumers choose both for convenience and affordability
  • Off-premise ordering capabilities support growth potential
  • Increase revenue by offering digital ordering methods, which have increased by 28% in the past 2 years
  • Capture share among busy families (56% traffic share of pick-up and delivery) and adults (44% traffic share) with diminishing free time and disposable income

In-App Payments

  • Use growing across all age groups 
  • Growth is mainly driven by millennials, who are worth $12 billion to Australian QSRs 
  • Index significantly higher against credit card payments
  • Drive retention and loyalty by weaving convenience and context into the customer experience
  • Capture a greater share of millennials’ demonstrated revenue potential by offering convenience, fast service and deals
  • Don’t neglect the older consumer as growth amongst all those aged over 35 is also strong

Deals & Promotions

  • Deal-based occasions have grown 7% PCYA
  • Consumers redeem at a much higher rate when making an in-app purchase
  • Strong correlation between leading QSR loyalty programs and branded apps
  • By unlocking the full potential of promotions, a unified commerce platform opens new growth avenues via:
    • Customer acquisition
    • Increased usage
    • Increased spend
    • Retention and stewardship


  • Aussies place 68 million orders annually via third-party platforms
  • Traffic share up 47% PCYA
  • Consumers cite “looking up items,” “paying for meals,” and “checking prices” as primary drivers
  • Low barrier to entry: no need to invest in expensive branded apps, creating your own delivery and fulfilment channels, or the IT to support them
  • Increase visibility and geographic reach
  • Leverage aggregators for acquisition; steward and retain customers via complementary digital strategy

Trend 1 Self-service kiosks drive revenue, and value beyond speeding up the customer checkout experience

NPD CREST® reveals that the use of QSR self-service kiosks has grown by 53% in the last year.3 As a result of this momentum, kiosks are becoming a significant driver of QSR traffic, contributing to nearly 40% of growth during the same period.4 The inherent opportunities for QSRs, therefore, are considerable - especially given that not all consumers who order via a kiosk take their food away. 

Primary research suggests that Australian QSRs investing in kiosk technology can reap tremendous gains. According to NPD CREST®, consumers most often cited convenience (as defined by “limited time for a meal” “fast service” and “need it now”), value (driven by “specific promotional offers”), and the user experience as key motivators for using a self-service kiosk.

Australian customers who use self-service kiosks most often:

  • Order bundles meals
  • Order Kids' meals
  • Purchase more items

Self-ordering trends in the world’s largest fast food market

While relatively new in Australia, the rapid adoption of self-service kiosks in US foodservice demonstrates the technology’s significant potential. 41% of QSRs in the US planned to invest in self-service kiosks, tablets, and tableside ordering capabilities last year. Further, 67% of consumers said they would place an order at a self-service kiosk within the next 12 months—an increase of 25%. Notably, the appeal of kiosks extends well beyond tech-savvy millennials: more than 25% of US consumers over the age of 65 have used a self-service kiosk within the last year. 

How to take action

QSRs looking to cash in on the kiosk revolution should consider how they contribute to the overall customer experience. Customising kiosks to offer the ability to personalise orders, pay with their preferred method, and offer add-ons with a simple tap will ensure happy customers - and happy customers return. 

When looking to introduce kiosks, QSR operators should consider learnings from similar brands in the US which have found that:

  • Average order size increases by 21% (rising to 30% for the leading QSR burger chain). 5 Kiosks never fail to upsell, and customers who may otherwise feel self-conscious about adding items to their order - or increasing the size of them - need not worry about disapproval when ordering from a touch screen.

  • Individual transactions increase by at least $5. 6 Those add-on items mentioned above? They often come at a premium. But customers respond to relevant suggestions - such as adding avocado to their taco - and there’s less friction when they’re not interacting with a cashier or paying with cash.

  • Total order times decrease by nearly 40%. 7 Strategically placed kiosks mean that customers can more quickly and efficiently place and pay for their orders. Without the need for cash, QSRs can also redeploy staff toward higher-value tasks that increase ordering speed.  

Trend 2 Pick-up and delivery options drive customer loyalty

Increased housing costs, globalisation, and rapid technological advancement have fundamentally disrupted the concept of “free time” around the world. As a result, adults - both with and without children - have much less time to accomplish many more tasks.

“Overworked Australians, for whom time and money are at a premium, may view a seated restaurant meal as an indulgence,” says Leung. “At the same time, carving out precious minutes from an already-overscheduled day to shop for and prepare a home-cooked meal can seem overwhelming. The ability to harness the sweet spot between the two presents a real opportunity for operators. Busy people do still need to eat.”

NPD CREST® data underscores this fact. Driven largely by families, Australian consumers are ordering more pick-up and delivery. Within the last year, these two segments have experienced dynamic growth of 17% combined, with 21% deriving from delivery orders alone. The rising popularity of aggregators (e.g. Uber Eats and Menulog), as well as increased investment in off-premise ordering capabilities among QSRs, are contributing to this growth. 

The ready availability of on-the-go meals can effectively address a significant time pressure for busy Australians. QSRs that are willing and able to invest in the infrastructure to support the latter, such as in-app ordering, stand to reap significant benefits. 

Indeed, NPD CREST® data demonstrates that, while still in its infancy, digital ordering spend within QSR Australia has increased significantly during the past two years - growing from $1.1 billion in 2017 to $2.3 billion in 2019. This equates to an increase in traffic share from 3.1% to 6.4% across the same time period. 


Digital ordering options drive sales in the UK and the US

In order to assess this opportunity, visionary operators can extrapolate from the UK, where consumers increasingly prefer to dine off-premise. According to NPD CREST, convenience and affordability play into this trend, as do customer behaviours and technology. By the end of 2020, the number of Brits ordering their pick-up and delivery meals via digital means including online, in-app, and on-site kiosks will likely exceed one billion for the first time. In-app visits, especially, are forecast to leap by 88% during this same period.  

Similarly, in the US, food service operators are turning to online and app-based services, including third-party delivery apps to increase restaurant customer visits and spending in the US. As a result, nearly six in ten digital orders now originate with a mobile app. 

Driven largely by families, pick-up and delivery are growing dynamically at 17% combined

How to take action

QSRs looking to gain in the delivery market should consider mobile apps as a means of building a base of loyal time-strapped customers. While initially costly, the return on investment will ensure that QSRs can drive revenue without increasing restaurant space and staff. 

“Mobile apps are one area of tech that is second nature to many of us, especially the millennial generation, and this includes apps by the food industry,” says Leung. “Those within the industry need to consider their digital platforms going forward if they wish to stay competitive in the foodservice space and appeal to the new generation of consumers.”

Trend 3 A third of in-app payments growth is due to millennial revenue

Millennials prefer in-app payment methods, and they will continue to represent significant opportunities for QSRs. 

Due to heavy investment into branded apps among leading global QSR pizza and burger operators, the use of mobile as a payment method is proportionally higher among these two categories than in others, including cafés and chicken chains. (According to NPD CREST, it’s more than three times higher for pizza).

“Pizza and burger chains fully understand the tremendous potential when consumers can order their meals, redeem special promotions, and pay via a dedicated app,” says Leung. “Any QSR operator can learn from this and leverage the same capabilities.”

Portrait of an Australian millennial

source 9

Roughly speaking, between 22-37

Fast Service

The most commonly purchased meal among millennials is lunch, but their interest in weekday morning meals and afternoon snacks is growing


Payment methods
Debit Card
Especially among females and at lunch

Growing across dayparts, especially for off-premise occasions

$16 billion opportunity
Millennials are currently worth $16 billion across total foodservice in Australia – and they’re driving much of QSR growth. Better understanding them and their behaviour can drive your growth too. 

How to take action

QSRs looking to gain a share of the millennial wallet must prioritise convenience and context in the customer experience. Offering in-app ordering and payment coupled with pick-up and delivery options will drive customer retention and loyalty in this demographic.

While in-app payments comprise only 2% of the QSR channel currently, use is growing across all age groups - which makes a strong case for adoption on its own. The case further solidifies around millennials, who are currently worth $12 billion across QSR Australia and are driving much of the channel’s growth.

Millennials are extremely busy, more likely to dine alone than other demographics, often choose to eat at home when solo, and comprise the biggest segment of consumers who prefer digitally enabled ordering and payment. While their most commonly purchased meal (via all payment channels) is lunch, in-app payments among this group are growing across all timeframes.

Capturing the revenue opportunities inherent in these timeframes means capturing the attention of millennials. Coffee chains, for example, can capitalise on this demographic’s growing interest in weekday morning meals through a branded mobile app that fulfils their desire for convenience (ordering ahead), fast service (skipping the line), and deals. And almost any QSR can complement their on-premise meals with pick-up and delivery options supported by third-party aggregators - whose own ordering and payment apps provide the same capabilities and convenience consumers seek. While an overworked millennial is unlikely to sit in a restaurant on the way home from another long day, they are much more likely to purchase dinner from the train and have it waiting at the counter or delivered to their home.

Trend 4 Coupons and deals drive more than quick revenue

Deal-based occasions are driving growth across the Australian QSR industry, increasing at a rate of 7% in the last 12 months according to NDP CREST®. This can be attributed to the rise of in-app and other mobile payment options, although it’s worthy to note that both methods have also boosted non deal-based occasions. 

Delving deeper, CREST data further shows that consumers are redeeming deals at a much higher rate when making app-based purchases. Compared to total Australian foodservice traffic, deal-based occasions over-index at 120. In fact, 68% of APAC consumers report ordering a snack or meal because of an in-app deal. 10

Promotions are nothing new, and successful outlets have been using data to inform them for decades. But rapid technological advancement is challenging QSRs’ ability to fully understand their consumers. Simply assigning a customer number to collect point-of-sale data at the register, or offering a loyalty card that requires on-site redemption, no longer paints the fullest picture at a time when consumers increasingly are ordering and paying for meals off-site through a variety of digital means. Given recent growth in deal-based occasions, this can translate to considerable lost opportunity.

Consumers redeem deals at a much higher rate from within an app

How to take action

QSRs looking to use coupons and deals as a means to build their customer base should consider investing in a system that unifies payment data across channels and allows them to unlock additional value from customers.  

The power of promotions are multiplied exponentially when paired with a unified commerce platform.  

It also supports several key avenues for growth:

  • Customer acquisition. Using digitally-driven deals and discounts, QSRs can encourage trials and repeats - an approach that exploded for the leading QSR burger chain in the US. After broadly rolling out its branded app, daily use rose between 20 and 40%, 11 partially due to a special “welcome” promotion (a free menu item) available to customers who downloaded the app and activated it in-restaurant for the first time. 12
  • Increased usage. Based on a customers' purchase histories, QSRs can push targeted limited-time offers via app and other digital avenues, such as self-service kiosks.
  • Increased spend. Apps make it easy to highlight relevant add-ons such as chips or a beverage. And, when QSRs offer special add-on pricing available only via the app, consumers tend to order them.

  • Retention and stewardship. NPD analysis shows that frequent restaurant visitors are most likely to be influenced to return through a digital service like an app. QSRs who can leverage in-depth customer insights to best appeal to these users can more effectively foster ongoing loyalty, which positively impacts the bottom line.

Beyond the convenience and speed that payment platforms can offer customers, they can also uncover useful insights that agile QSRs can leverage. By tying together an individual’s in-restaurant and online purchasing data, and storing that information in one place, these platforms help create a robust customer profile around which QSRs can build effective promotions. The ability to push these promotions out via app-based and other digital ordering methods, such as self-serve kiosks, increases the chances that consumers will respond.

Trend 5 Aggregators unlock additional customers

In addition to removing the burdens of having to hire, train, and manage additional staff, third-party aggregators support in-app ordering and payment methods without operators having to invest in developing or maintaining their own. By posting menus and deals on aggregator platforms, QSRs can increase their visibility and geographic reach.

Currently, third-party aggregators comprise 2% of QSR traffic share in Australia (see figure to the right) - and, while small, this number is growing rapidly, increasing by 47% in the past 12 months. Traffic share for the most dominant presence in the market doubled in the last year. And, up-and-coming players are broadening opportunities for third-party collaboration.

Research reveals that 33% of people living in Australia’s capital cities - or 5.4 million consumers - regularly order meals through an aggregator. 14 

That equates to 68 million orders each year, with an average annual spend of $1,590 per customer. 15 


Recalling that in-app purchases and payments are growing among millennials, generation X, and those over 50 - together representing more than half of Australia’s population and nearly 70% of its workforce 16 

- third-party aggregators can help outlets, without branded apps and/or delivery services, capture revenue they otherwise might lose.


Of course, investment in aggregator relationships isn’t insignificant. In some markets, aggregators charge a 30% commission on sales. 

QSR - restaurants versus aggregators

Increased partnerships with aggregators have shifted more of the digital footprint to third parties

Traffic share change vs year ago 13

Australians place 68 million orders annually via third-party delivery services

How to take action

While impacting the profit margin, aggregators can boost volumes by unlocking additional customers. QSRs looking to attract net new customers should consider aggregators as a means of marketing their offerings to new customers, allowing customers to “discover” the restaurant. QSRs concerned about the value proposition should consider the following:

  • Scalability. Aggregators can provide a low barrier to entry into the burgeoning delivery market for QSRs who aren’t quite ready to fulfil their own delivery services. QSRs can therefore reach new customers and channels with minimal investment or development costs.

    As one leading QSR sandwich brand in the US is demonstrating, scalability applies to the big players, too. 17 By complementing its proprietary delivery services with third-party partnerships, the chain expects to realise “additive” incremental gains through fulfilling pent-up demand for its products among consumers who exclusively use aggregator apps.

  • Increasing popularity. Looking to the US aggregator apps comprise 40% of consumers’ 20 most used ones, according to NPD research. 18 Surveyed consumers cited “looking up items,” “paying for meals,” and “checking prices” as their primary drivers for using a third-party app versus a restaurant branded app.

    Opportunity cost. As aggregators continue to permeate the market, outlets absent from leading platforms stand to lose business to competitors who appear on them.

“Digitising the market, via mobile ordering, delivery, apps, order kiosks and the internet, is growing rapidly in foodservice markets across all CREST® countries”

Bob O’Brien, Global Senior Vice President, Foodservice at NPD

Implementation best practices

Intrigued by what these trends may mean for your future growth? 

Harnessing the inherent opportunity of technology requires a comprehensive digital plan - backed by intentional implementation - that aligns with your strategic goals, budget, and operations. 

While it may seem tempting to jump in and adopt the full complement of digital technology tomorrow, reality dictates a phased-in approach: one that supports market and consumer testing to ensure that each new digital sales channel performs as expected, and produces the desired result. For instance, if your presence on an aggregator platform fails to stimulate takeout orders, you’ll want to understand why before investing in and deploying a branded app.

Given that digital ordering necessitates payment capability, you also will need to rigorously evaluate potential payment platforms before rolling out your first - or next - digital channel. As you do so, look for a payments platform that is:

  • Scalable. First and foremost, to avoid critical disruptions to your service, a payments platform should seamlessly integrate into your existing point-of-sale system(s) while allowing room to grow. It should harmonise with your cash registers today, your branded app tomorrow, and your self-service kiosks next year. Look for solutions that can integrate with a broad variety of clients without requiring proprietary hardware or apps. For example, web and cloud-based application performance interfaces (APIs) easily support configuration and plug-in no matter the ordering system.     
  • Unified. As you diversify your digital sales channel, ensuring a centralised repository of consumer data is key. Why? Because different touchpoints - the kiosk, the tableside tablet, the app, the register - yield different pieces of information. When those pieces are siloed, you can’t fully understand your customers’ behaviours, preferences, or motivations without significant investment of resources which you likely don’t have. This negatively impacts your ability to capitalise on them.
    A unified payments platform allows you to knit the many threads of individual customer behaviours together into robust profiles you can add to over time. So, for example, you can mine those profiles for customers who spend more in-app than on-premises, and tailor personalised deals accordingly. 
    Importantly, a unified platform offers a consistent experience across all sales channels enabling customer loyalty. 
  • Flexible. Today’s consumers demand choice when it comes to payments - and this extends beyond a preference for credit versus cash, digital wallet versus debit. In a global economy, payment choice also includes language and currency, especially in a digital environment. Successful QSRs must support both.
    According to Tourism Australia, 9.3 million international tourists visited the country in 2019, up 3% over the previous year. 19 Together, these visitors spent $44.6 billion - a 5% increase - and represent what the government has identified as a “super growth industry." 20 Foodservice outlets whose digital ordering channels support multiple languages and currencies, as well as globally-relevant payment methods, can more effectively capitalise on this growth.
  • Proven. Unsurprisingly, the pace of innovation in the digital ordering and payment space means that new vendors appear almost daily. Foodservice QSRs who are serious about the long game should consider the experience and relative longevity of potential partners in order to protect against unforeseen and potentially devastating disruptions to operations.
    Investigate which platform(s) the world’s leading brands - in and outside foodservice - depend upon, read case studies about their experiences, and seek first-person testimonials if possible. Are you considering aggregator partnerships? Research which platform the leading players use.
  • Revenue focused. In the 1% game, continued technological evolution is key. An ideal payments partner anticipates trends in consumer behaviour and acts ahead of the curve to help you capitalise on them. Busy restaurateurs operating on lean margins neither want - nor can afford - to worry about managing local POS software or securing customer data. Payment platforms that operate in the cloud can save you hassles with both. In today’s growing “conversational economy,” for example - in which customers increasingly prefer to interact with businesses of all types via text, messenger apps, and chatbots - how can you attract and close more sales? A revenue focused partner will already have figured this out for you.

Ultimately, you should seek a payments partner that catalyses growth by providing the consumer intelligence you need to address your business goals.


Technology has changed everything from how products and services are sold and delivered, to how consumers behave and what they expect.

This on-demand economy has shifted the global commercial paradigm toward speed, efficiency, anxqd convenience, where immediate gratification is not only the outcome but also the goal. 

In Australia, according to a recent report by 451 Research, 46% of consumers describe digital technology as essential to their daily lives - a statistic that rises to 60% among millennials. 21 Yet the QSR industry has been slow to respond with only 23% having deployed digital technologies that speed the customer journey. 22

Bucking this trend promises to be a sound business strategy - especially in light of the overall drivers of consumer behaviour in the Australian foodservice space, which were identified above. No matter the channel, QSRs who adopt a proven payments platform can:

  • Capture higher share of wallet from existing customers 

  • Appeal to/capture growing demographic segments

  • Use deals and coupons to drive repeat revenue

  • Speed up the customer experience

  • Leverage aggregators to attract net-new customers

Capitalising on the opportunities can lead to positive growth in an increasingly competitive market.

About Adyen

Adyen (AMS: ADYEN) is the payments platform of choice for many of the world’s leading companies, providing a modern end-to-end infrastructure connecting directly to Visa, Mastercard, and consumers’ globally-preferred payment methods. Adyen delivers frictionless payments across online, mobile, and in-store channels. With offices across the world, Adyen serves customers including Facebook, Uber,, Aesop McDonalds, Joe & The Juice and wagamama. 

About NPD Group

The NPD Group offers data, industry expertise, and prescriptive analytics to help you grow your business in a changing world. With offices in 27 cities across the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, we help you measure, predict, and improve performance across all channels.

About the research

In partnership with Adyen, The NPD Group examined data compiled from over 60,000 consumer visits to commercial and non-commercial foodservice establishments in Australia through September 2019, as well as examples drawn from global markets. Analysis reveals that growth opportunities do exist - particularly among outlets best able to offer affordability and convenience. This white paper examines what the data uncovers about emerging trends in the Australian quick service restaurant space. It also reveals that QSRs willing to invest in digital technologies that enhance the customer experience stand to reap significant returns through reduced friction, increased efficiency, elevated sales, and heightened loyalty.

Download the full report


1 451 Research report commissioned by Adyen
2 451 Research report commissioned by Adyen
3 The NPD Group/CREST® Australia, QSR Traffic Share YE Sep 2019
4 The NPD Group/CREST® Australia, QSR Traffic Share YE Sep 2019
9 NPD Group/CREST®
10 From “The Digital Age of Foodservice in Asia Pacific,” January 2018: (slide 6)
11 From
12 From
13 NPD Group/CREST®
21 McKee, Jordan. “Unified Commerce: Capitalising on Australia’s $92BN Retail Opportunity.” 451 Research, July 2019 (p.6). 
22 McKee, Jordan. “Unified Commerce: Capitalising on Australia’s $92BN Retail Opportunity.” 451 Research, July 2019 (p.21). 

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