The impact of new Payment Tech. on the Restaurant Industry
Advancements in restaurant payments are developing at an incredible rate, with each chain seeming to now have, or be in the process of developing, their own unique payment system – including Barclaycard’s ‘Dine & Dash’ system, being trialled by Italian restaurant chain Prezzo, and MasterCard’s ‘walk out and pay’ system being trialled by pan-Asian restaurant chain Wagamama, which both allow diners to leave as soon as they want without waiting around for the bill.
Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) and environments in which the interactive experience is less important are more suited to technology such as this, as the convenience of fast service is a major factor. However, more traditional dining experiences will still call for a more intimate experience throughout, not least the payment and ‘tipping’ stage. Technology that removes the need for customer/server interaction, particularly when it comes to payments, is likely to reduce tipping levels – this has the potential to be commercially damaging as tips form a large part of the pay of service workers. Employers are under financial stress already so would struggle to increase salaries to make up the short fall, and could struggle to hire as a result.
Akin to Self Check Out (SCO) in retail, while some customers will welcome the introduction of such a timesaving new service, there will always be some that will resist change. It is vital that restaurateurs carefully tread a line with any new tech-focused systems and still continue to provide more traditional means of payment alongside the new, as to offer all customers a range of options for how they wish to interact with the business.
Devices and solutions along these lines are a stepping-stone to having no in store devices, rather having it all APP driven on smartphones instead, which already widely exist. In the context of Prezzo, the actual device is nothing more than a ‘beacon’, so solutions along this line aren’t too difficult for a business to implement. Progressing this kind of system isn’t just a matter for the restaurants however. Banks have a vested interest to encourage this type of payment as it is likely to be a precursor in moving costs from businesses to consumers.
For the restaurant business as a whole, technology-based payment solutions offer additional opportunities to mine information and data that is useful and saleable – by require email addresses for online receipts for example – moving payments beyond a simple, single purpose interaction to something that has a value to other parts of the business.
Overall the entire environment needs to be considered, planned and holistic to encompass the customer experience as a whole. Simply dropping in random IT as and when, no matter how good, will never truly realise the potential or serve the customer’s needs. Only by finding the right balance between customer convenience and business necessity can restaurateurs ensure their new payment tech truly works for them.