Leslie Park Lynn is a 15 year restaurant industry veteran.
The power of mobile technology cannot be overstated, especially in the restaurant industry. While the potential impact on sales growth and marketing is huge, the industry itself has been slow to adapt and adopt mobile strategies. Many independent restaurants still do not have mobile websites and fewer still have embraced the idea of mobile payment. In an industry that is fiercely labor intensive there is much to be gained in operational efficiencies and in streamlining the customer experience by introducing mobile payment applications.
Consumers Have Been Slow to Adopt Mobile Payment
As recent as 2014 less than 5% of consumers had ever used their phone to make a mobile payment inside a retail store. In 2015 that number more than tripled but still only topped out at 18%. Today, even though 70% of consumers own smartphones, only 39% report making a mobile payment routinely. Therefore, the upside potential of mobile payment is tremendous.
While the restaurant industry, as a whole, has much to benefit from implementing mobile payment, the Quickserve segment has pulled away as the leader with 43% of operators reporting that they offer the service. This is compared to 31% in the fast casual segment. Roughly 25% more operators in both segments said they would offer it over the next year. The primary driver? Security.
Many mobile payment applications use encryption to scramble credit card data before it even reaches the acceptance terminal. This makes protecting customers information on the back end much easier. But aside from security there are many more advantages in adopting mobile payment technology for restaurant owners and operators and their customers.
While franchisees and chain operators have the advantage of large organizations to help get them over the technology hump, independent operators are left to fend for themselves in finding the right application at the right cost. With so many options available to them what features and benefits should they be focusing on? According to a recent white paper published by the National Restaurant Association, here are some of the most important.
Customer Relationship Management
Using your mobile payment application to manage your customer data provides you with a platform from which to launch marketing tactics aimed at specific groups of customers and helps you understand your customers better through tracking and additional feedback. Understanding your customers wants and needs helps you to provide a more streamlined and satisfying experience.
Being easy to to do business with is the hallmark of a streamlined customer experience. More and more, speed and convenience is cited in surveys as a primary customer want. Giving customers the ability to order ahead and a way to make a fast and secure payment provides your restaurant with a competitive edge, particularly with takeaway customers. Ordering from the table with fast checkout takes stress off your operation and helps you gain operational efficiencies.
Beacon Messaging and Geofencing
Locating your customers when they are near your location and messaging them with enticing offers and invitations is a very powerful form of marketing. Not only have you hurdled the challenge of drawing your customers to your locale, you have started the conversation before they have even walked through the door.
Loyalty Program Management
By managing your loyalty program through your mobile payment app you can incorporate payment and customer frequency data and more accurately track your customers actions, levels and rewards. Additionally you can provide a way to easily enroll and redeem rewards automatically which adds ease of use and higher levels of satisfaction.
Receipts from mobile payment purchases and reward redemptions are almost always read by the customer when received. Through this delivery operators are able to message their customers about upcoming events and specials, direct them to their websites and social media pages and solicit feedback. It provides an excellent way to stay connected to the customer after the in-restaurant experience.
Mobile Payment Solutions for Restaurants
The solutions available for restaurant owners and operators range from custom apps created specifically for the restaurant to generic applications available to anyone. Also, restaurants can opt to accept mobile payment through mobile wallet solutions such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet. More popular applications such as Flypay and Sumup allow you to integrate with your point of sale and offer services such as order ahead, table ordering and pay at the table features. Operators should first decide on and prioritize their wants and needs and then seek out a solution that is the best fit for their operation and budget.
Regardless of how restaurant operators incorporate mobile payment into their operation doing so is quickly becoming essential to remain competitive. More and more customers are demanding security, speed and convenience from the restaurants they do business with.