by Richard Buck on Monday, October 14th, 2019


The MDR Group of Overland Park, Kansas ( engaged Progressive Business Insights of Dallas ( to assess the potential degree of interest for restaurant “Order By Voice” systems, that use intelligent voice-based assistants (similar to Amazon’s Alexa) to accept orders from consumers who simply say what they want to order. Most restaurant chains avoid phone orders due to the cost of staffing the phone lines. By contrast, this new voice commerce channel provides convenience to patrons, eliminates the “choice overload” of graphical menus found in mobile apps or websites, and allows consumers who are driving to place their orders hands-free.

An online survey was conducted among 346 U.S. adults who order from or eat at restaurants an average of more than two times a week. The results were impressive.

The September 2019 study found that two-thirds of adults were interested in this technology (39% Extremely or Very Interested). Rather than having to remember a phone number from a radio or TV commercial or magazine ad, the customer merely dials #250 and says the name of the restaurant. They are immediately taken to an interactive voice system. It answers menu questions, takes their order, lets them revise their order, then computes their check, takes their credit card information and indicates when their order will be available at the nearest restaurant---without the need to deal with busy employees or wait in lines.

If the pioneering chains using this technology are successful, every single restaurant chain in America will have it implemented within two years”, said Dave Robinett, MDR Group CMO. “That’s why we wanted to study the topic”.

They saw #250 as cool, fun, exciting, new, unique, intriguing and convenient. What’s more nearly
9 in 10 consumers thought that #250 would be easier than trying to remember or look up a phone number of the specific restaurant chain location.

Many would use #250 both to make reservations and to place orders. In total, nearly two-thirds would use this technology, which is now starting to be offered to chain restaurants.

Some restaurant chains like McDonalds and Sonic are exploring the use of automated voice ordering only for their drive through operations. But the study shows that the appeal lays in the ability to “order ahead”, allowing customers to skip the drive through or in-store queues and simply pick up their order.

Although frequency of ordering from and eating at restaurants declined somewhat with age, there was universal interest across all age groups.

“Any new technology has to ‘Cross The Chasm’ from Early Adopters to mass adoption. It’s useful to measure interest levels at the outset so businesses have a sense of the payback period for their investment in such technology”, said Richard Buck of Progressive Business Insights. “Having two-thirds of respondents expressing interest in this form of voice commerce bodes well for the technology, restaurants, and other retailers in general”.

For more information contact: Dave Robinett, or Richard Buck, Progressive Business Insights,


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