MRM Research Roundup: Year-End 2020 Edition

This edition of MRM Research Roundup features top trends for 2020, how 2020 changed food and the year's top wines.

Top Restaurant Trends

BentoBox released its comprehensive 2020 Restaurant Trend Report. Key findings from the report include: 

Direct online ordering booms as restaurants recognize the need to bypass third-party marketplaces: Average monthly online order volume grew 250x since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with $59.18 spent per order, on average, across restaurant websites. The most popular day of the week for online ordering is Friday, with Mother’s Day 2020 coming out on top as the most popular holiday for online catering orders.

The most ordered menu item of 2020 came from South Carolina chain, New York City Pizza, and its “New York” thin-crust pizza. Beyond individual orders, meal kits saw a surge of popularity as at-home diners looked to create interactive dining experiences while social distancing. At-home meal kits increased 13x in 2020 from 2019, with some of the most popular options including NYC-based ICHIRAN’s Take-Home Ramen Kit and New England Lobster’s Lobster Roll Kit in San Francisco. 

Digital transformation accelerates forward as restaurants go virtual: Across both on- and off-premise experiences, technology played an integral role in powering safe options for customers. New and existing tools like QR codes served an essential role in maintaining social distance as restaurants approached contactless dine-in capabilities fit for our new normal. In addition to restaurants increasingly adopting technology, the popularity of ghost kitchens skyrocketed, increasing 60x in 2020 from 2019. These virtual restaurants acted as a low-risk way to test new concepts and locations in a digital dining environment. 

Restaurants support essential workers, see influx of donations from diners during unprecedented times: BentoBox restaurants donated almost 11,000 meals to frontline workers since March, totaling over $190,000. While restaurants looked after frontline workers, diners lended their own efforts to support restaurants and their staff in 2020, offering donations, gift cards, tickets towards online classes and merchandise purchases. BentoBox launched its COVID-19 Relief feature through direct online ordering, which allowed guests to add donations to their orders at checkout. In total, diners donated over $360,000 directly to restaurants and their staff through their websites and purchased over $90,000 in gift cards. 

“This year’s restaurant trends highlight the grit and perseverance of the hospitality industry during a year of unprecedented challenges,” said Krystle Mobayeni, Co-Founder and CEO of BentoBox. “Together, restaurants, industry leaders and diners rallied to adapt, pivot and rebuild, setting the stage for a more sustainable, self-reliant future. BentoBox is dedicated to supporting restaurants as they build strong, digital-enabled businesses — while maintaining their unique vision of hospitality.”

The 2020 Restaurant Trend Report measures the digital transformation of restaurants, including adopting technologies like QR codes and direct online ordering to bypass third-parties. Moreover, it highlights the ingenuity of restaurants in pivoting their business models to leverage low-risk options, like ghost kitchens and pop-ups, and creating new customer experiences, both on- and off-premise.

To access the full report, visit

How 2020 Changed Food

During 2020, coffee ran cold, eggs went unscrambled, and grocery stores persevered through unprecedented early-morning shopping rushes. Those are just a few of the ways in which 2020 changed the food, beverage, and grocery industries, according to the data put together by foot traffic analytics firm

In its new report, identified some of the key trends that altered the retail industry t year — which includes a breakfast slowdown at eateries and coffee shops, and a change in the way people are shopping for groceries. The question for retailers in the food industry, though, is whether those trends are permanent or passing due to the pandemic.

A link to the full report can be found here.

Report highlights:

Get up early and hunt for bargains: Grocery shopping habits were altered by the pandemic. Not only were people shopping earlier in the day, but they were spending more time and money at grocery stores — and they were doing most of it before noon. Bargain stores were popular, too: Foot traffic at Dollar General locations was up between 2.4 percent and 17.9 percent year-over-year every month since June.

A break from breakfast: With fewer morning commutes to cater to, breakfast and coffee sales suffered. Foot traffic at chains like McDonald’s, Dunkin’, and Starbucks sank several percentage points during the morning hours across the board but did increase above 2019’s levels during later hours of the day.

What about 2021?: While consumer behavior has changed due to the pandemic, it’s hard to tell what will be permanent.’s experts do think that breakfast sales will increase next year. And that an increase in working from home may make for a permanent change in the hours people shop at grocery stores. But we’ll have to wait and see to know for sure.

On-Premise Impact

According to Nielsen CGA's final COVID-19 On Premise Impact Report of 2020:

  • 50 percent of consumers have gone out to the On Premise to eat in the past two weeks, slightly down from 54 percent in the November wave. This is due to tighter restrictions across a number of states.
  • Despite the slight drop in food occasions, 16 percent have been out to drink which is in line with the previous month and expectations remain the same for the next two weeks in regards to drinking occasions.
  • On the other hand a lower  percent are expecting to go out to eat in the next two weeks, which cover the holiday period in a time of increasing restrictions.
  • This decrease in visitation is particularly evident in California, in line with the closure of bars and restaurants for indoor dining.
  • While a lot of uncertainty remains, nearly three in five consumers are positive about the outlook of next year compared to this, and with the latest vaccine news coming through those who are waiting for a vaccine before visiting the On Premise may be encouraged by these developments. 

Access the latest COVID-19 Impact Report here.

POS Software Market

NCR Corporation leads the global restaurant point-of-sale (POS) software market according to research and consulting firm RBR. The Global POS Software 2020 Report conducted by RBR indicates that NCR POS software has 25 percent market share in the restaurant subsegment. 

RBR’s latest research reveals that NCR has the largest share of POS software installations at the world’s leading retail and hospitality firms 

More than 8 million POS software installations at major retailers 

According to Global POS Software 2020, the fifth annual edition of the study by strategic research and consulting firm RBR, there were 8.1 million POS software installations globally at major retail and hospitality operators as of June 2020. The report covers over 2,000 projects from more than 100 vendors, with local and regional players present alongside suppliers with a global reach. 

NCR, Toshiba and Oracle lead an otherwise fragmented supplier base 

The three largest suppliers account for four out of ten POS software installations between them. NCR is the largest vendor overall and in the grocery sector, with major customers including supermarket giant Tesco and fuel convenience chain Marathon. 

Toshiba has the largest share in Asia-Pacific and Latin America, with its solutions running at four top-10 global retailers. Oracle leads both general merchandise and hospitality sectors globally, with international customers including Gap and Burger King. 

Diebold Nixdorf’s presence is strongest in EMEA, Heading’s customers are based in its Chinese home market, and Aptos has its highest share in the general merchandise sector. 

Retailers continue to expand their store networks, deploy additional self-service touchpoints or roll out a solution from a different supplier. RBR’s research shows 320,000 new POS software installations in the year to June 2020, across the 48 countries covered in the study. 

New business is spread more evenly among vendors, with Germany’s GK Software in second place globally after NCR. UK vendor Flooid and Japan’s Fujitsu also feature among the top seven firms for new POS software deployments. Retailers embracing cloud-based deployments in a post-COVID retail environment 

RBR’s study, which covers projects with 1,000 or more point-of-sale devices, forecasts nearly 1.8 million new POS software installations in the next five years, in addition to upgrades from legacy solutions. 

Alan Burt, who led the research, commented: “In a post-COVID world, the POS software market will become an ever more competitive and diverse space, with retailers increasingly embracing cloud-based solutions and SaaS commercial models as they seek to provide seamless shopping experiences”. 

The Global POS Software 2020 Report is based on analysis of more than 2,000 projects, by more than 100 vendors and comprising eigh million POS installations. The report includes commentary and insights into the grocery, general merchandise and hospitality segments, at an individual country level.

 Driving Demand for Alcohol

Digital customer engagement company 3×3 released a proprietary report that offers insights for beverage alcohol retailers and suppliers looking to drive growth in January 2021 and beyond. January is an infamously slow period for beverage alcohol sales after the fourth quarter holiday rush. This year, that will be compounded by COVID-19. The report is informed by unique insights into sales trends, yielded from the receipt data of influential beer, wine and spirits retailers around the country. The full version is now available to here.

From December 2019 to January 2020, dollar sales for beverage alcohol retailers in the 3×3 network fell by $50 million. That’s not in isolation — from December 2018 to January 2019, dollar sales fell by $64 million. Within each category (beer, wine and spirits), monthly sales-dollar figures dropped by half. 3×3 data shows the same plummet in average customer basket size between December and January, year after year.

“After a strong December, it’s hard to see January as an opportunity,” says 3×3 CEO, Mike Provance. “But perspective is everything. Data from the 3×3 Retail Network shows that January can be a productive month to create consumer demand.”

  • Retailers and suppliers can use January to create strategic demand and get ahead of the curve. In the report, 3×3 outlines several proactive steps for continued success. 
  • After the holidays, focus on inventory management improvements and keep inventory lean. Look at potential software updates, new shelving and displays, or better storage organization. 
  • Spend time with the products already in stock. Find the ones with the best margins, then concentrate on marketing and merchandising them
  • Invest early in digital marketing. It’s vital to have ongoing communication with customers for off-season success, and digital advertising can help reach new customers
  • Focus on lower cost offerings. A majority of consumers will not want to spend big on booze after the holidays, but 3×3 saw strong sales and above average basket spend in January 2020 on three lower-price varieties
  • Consider promoting low-alcohol and no-alcohol products as consumers enter “Dry January.” Health and wellness has a growing impact on drinks trends: 52 percent of millennials drank more alcohol-free beer and mocktails in 2020, and 61 percent tried alcohol-free beer for the first time during COVID-19
  • Provide diverse offerings and a holistic e-commerce strategy. The mix of January cold and COVID-19 means decreased foot traffic as consumers make fewer trips. E-commerce should pull hand-selling from the physical world into the digital one 
  • Get creative to drive demand. Consider replacing in-person tastings with at-home kits that can be picked up curbside. Curate boxes that make it easy to get all the ingredients for popular cocktails. Recreate the on-premise experience by offering ready-to-drink varieties (batched, bottled, or canned)

“Consumers need to be led,” says Jeff Nedeau, wine shop owner and Director of Strategic Account Management at 3×3. “You can’t wait around to see if they’re coming to you.”

Top Wines of 2020

Opening a Bottle has unveiled its picks for the Top 12 Wines of 2020, as selected by Editor-in-Chief, Kevin Day. Earning the top spot was Valtellina-based Italian winery ARPEPE,for their 2009 “Buon Consiglio” Valtellina Superiore Grumello Riserva. The selections were made from nearly 500 carefully curated wines sampled over the course of the year.

“In previous years, our year-end list has been a top 10, but that was feeling like a stale format. This year’s approach has more of a consumer mindset,” notes Day, who oversees the website’s editorial and consumer-centric virtual tasting program. “I wanted to give Opening a Bottle’s readers a sense for which wines — of those sampled — I would put in a mixed case at a wine shop and take home with me again.” 

Because of this approach, the selection includes a diverse array of wines, even within the site’s niche editorial focus of Italian, French and Spanish wine. Highlights from the list include a barrel-aged champagne (No. 2 from Billecart-Salmon), a white blend from Priorat (No. 10 from Clos Mogador) and even a frizzante sparkler from Liguria’s Lumassina grape (No. 9 from Punta Crena). 

“It is important to me to celebrate both the iconic fine wines of the world, as well as the wines that are simply unique and even lighthearted,” says Day. “They may not have the same resonance over time, but their potential for immediate joy is what excites me as a writer. For many of us, that was paramount this year: did we ultimately find joy in a bottle of wine?"