Millennials are notorious for their smartphone obsessions, love of social media and frugal spending habits. They account for one quarter of the nation’s population, all between the ages of 16-34.

These statistics paint a clear picture: Millennials wield significant spending power. This generation poses a huge revenue opportunity for restaurants, especially those who ramp up their technology amenities.

50% of Millennials cite that loyalty programs are very important to their dining experience. Slightly fewer than half of Millennials polled believe free Wi-Fi and online ordering are necessary for restaurants.

Let’s look at a few ways restaurants can improve their technology to entice the millennial diner:


Loyalty Programs

Millennials love a deal, especially one that’s easy to redeem. And restaurants are appealing to this heightened desire for accessibility by integrating loyalty and reward programs into smartphone apps. A Forrester study found that 57% of mobile users believe loyalty programs and points are the top feature in a mobile wallet  Add in-restaurant Wi-Fi, and loyalty programs are even easier to access and use.

In-app loyalty programs pique the millennial diner’s interest. What’s more: offering promotions through social media channels with visible calls to action prompts them to revisit the restaurant.

Another way to redeem rewards is through QR codes that lead to websites, social media profiles, or promotions. Restaurants can offer these promotions online with the ability to redeem them on a mobile device, to create a seamless dining experience for Millennials.


Online Ordering

Online ordering is crucial for restaurants targeting Millennials. A 2014 study showed that 35% of Millennials order food online, mostly because of convenience. The majority of respondents agreed that ordering online is easier, eliminates wait time, and improves accuracy of orders.

GrubHub, a mobile food ordering company, has reaped the benefits Millennials’ love of convenience. Since launching their mobile platform in 2010, the company has seen great success. GrubHub currently services 900 cities, with 6.43 million active diners that send in 220,000 daily orders on average – equivalent to $2 billion in gross food sales for the year.

Millennials also appreciate being able to customize their online orders to suit their tastes. Chipotle has capitalized on this market with a menu that allows customers to order customized burritos online at a consistent price no matter how many ingredients they add. The increasingly popular “build-your-own” model was up 22% in sales in 2014.


Mobile Pay

Restaurants are just starting to embrace the trend of mobile checkout, payment and ordering, according to Fast Casual. For cafes and quick service restaurants, such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Burger King, there is huge potential for millennial engagement with a mobile payment offering.

To be successful with mobile, brands should find ways to engage their users on mobile beyond just payments.

When Starbucks integrated a loyalty program into their mobile wallet, their success skyrocketed. Coupled with a 2D barcode that fit existing POS systems at cafes and a simple to use app, the mobile wallet became incredibly popular with their customer base.

By October 2013, just four years after launching the mobile app, 11% of sales were coming through the mobile wallet. This was equivalent to four million mobile payments per week with eight million consumers using the mobile app to pay.


Final Thoughts

Though a tech-savvy restaurant atmosphere will likely bring more Millennials in to dine, they’re not the only ones who appreciate connecting with restaurants on their smartphones.

Research shows that a significant percentage of baby boomers also use computers and smartphones to view menus, look up locations, and order food from their favorite restaurants.

How does your restaurant use technology to attract millennial customers?