The 21st century restaurant and quick-service restaurant environment is a jungle, and just when merchants think they’ve hacked their way through it, it gets more complicated. With regulatory advancements, technological progress, generational development, and the growing eCommerce industry which is expected to surpass $1.9 trillion by 2018, it is important for merchants to turn these challenges into opportunities and cater to the evolving needs of the connected consumer.
To survive in today’s competitive industry and accommodate consumers’ ever-changing preferences and behaviors, traditional tactics must change.
Restaurants and quick-serves need to unify their brand and have an omnichannel strategy.
Forty two percent of consumers say the ability to order online would make them choose one restaurant over another.
It is important for merchants to tear down the silos between their online and physical locations. While visiting stores and restaurants, consumers increasingly have their smartphones at the ready to aid their purchasing decisions—whether to compare menu items, or to find deals and locate products as they walk the aisles. Connecting both channels can provide them with access to the advanced consumer data and analytics needed for better targeting, consumer insights and personalization across all customer touchpoints.
In today’s environment, for brands to succeed, they need an omnichannel strategy that is consistent across digital signage to mobile to online and is in sync with their experience at the restaurant, to engage with consumers.
However, creating a consistent and seamless experience is easier said than done, considering the complexity and ever-changing nature of technology, apps and regulation—not to mention the limited bandwidth of IT resources.
Fortunately, payment technology offers a solution for merchants to overcome these obstacles. Recent innovations in this space have catapulted POS technology far beyond merely “payment acceptance.”
For example, one of the country’s top 10 quick-service and fast-casual restaurants wanted to further expedite the ordering process for customers. They have successfully implemented a system that integrates online and instore experiences by implementing an easy and convenient way for their customers to order online and pick up at the store. With the capability to engage with consumers through kiosks, mobile, and web, they are on track to surpass 1 billion transactions by the end of 2017.
The introduction of new payment methods is constant.
It’s important for merchants to stay nimble and adapt to new technologies, such as mobile payment applications, as they emerge. Apple Pay is reporting more than one million new users each week. Popular cloud-based wallets such as WeChat Pay and Alipay are breaking down borders and disrupting the payments ecosystem. User adoption will continue to increase and payment providers and businesses need to prepare to accept a growing number of alternative payments.
Quick-serves especially need to think outside the checkout.
A major complaint from modern diners is that checkout lines take too long.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), 3G/4G and WiFi connectivity combined with mobile or portable POS (mPOS) devices allow merchants to extend the POS beyond the counter. These technologies help reduce long checkout lines creating a faster, more convenient experience for diners. Additionally mobile pay solutions offer secure pay-at-the-table solutions leading to a quicker turn on tables and increased tipping due to the shorter wait times.
The Keg Steakhouse + Bar is an example of a full-service restaurant chain offering pay-at-the-table service to enhance their guests’ experience. Servers are able to close the bill transaction right at the table so guests experience secure, efficient payment and convenient service.
Dependable, fast and secure kiosk ordering is also proving invaluable in many of the larger quick-service chains. These solutions expedite ordering while lowering overhead and are expected to continue growing over the coming years.
Security needs to be a priority.
Given that there is unprecedented growth in the digital payments industry, with more alternate payment options available to consumers today, security will become even more necessary and will need to evolve.
All merchants—regardless of size—are vulnerable to payment system attacks, and customers are concerned about the security of their information when making payments.
Merchants want to know that their devices and systems are as secure and future-proof as possible. Multilayered security helps protect sensitive information as it travels through the payment ecosystem and PCI DSS compliance ensures that merchants keep up with ever-changing industry standards.
To summarize, payment technologies have evolved, payment devices no longer just accept payments, they are now powerful business solution tools that enable merchants to create innovative and future-ready experiences for the connected consumer of today. Businesses that continue to evolve, stand to win customers and tap new revenue opportunities.