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The Menu – the latest insights on restaurant technology trends, customer successes, and best practices.

Is Mobile Pay-At-Table Right For Your Restaurant?

Sif Rai
CMO, QikServe Limited

Written By: Sif Rai, CMO, QikServe

Consumer behavior is changing. Time-starved and increasingly digitally-savvy consumers are placing more value on convenience and speed, and the meteoric rise of smartphone adoption is fueling this trend. People are managing more of their daily lives through mobile devices, expecting immediate, personalized interactions. In a restaurant setting, they expect faster digital services and greater convenience through multiple channels.

One technology solution that’s helping brands meet the demands of their guests is mobile pay-at-table. 

Before we dive into whether mobile pay-at-table is right for your restaurant, it helps to explain exactly what we mean by pay-at-table. In this post, it refers to when customers have finished their meal and they’re ready to leave, and they use their mobile phone to connect to a webpage to retrieve their check. Here, they’re able to see a breakdown of their order, tip, split the check with others at the table and pay using methods such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or a credit card. They’re then free to leave when it suits them.

So, now that you have a clear understanding of mobile pay-at-table, the big question: Is it right for your restaurant?

There are several things you need to consider:

  • Service model
  • Demographics
  • Digital strategy
  • Operational leadership

Restaurant Service Model

Mobile pay-at-table lends itself well to fast-casual restaurants and other table-service operation models. Currently, in these types of restaurants, after their meal, guests need to wave down a member of staff, wait for the check and, if they’re paying by card, wait for a PED device to be brought to them or wait to have their card returned after taking payment at the restaurant POS system. All of this waiting is dead time to operators, is frustrating for guests, and can be eliminated if guests are able to pay using their own mobile devices.

A recent restaurant guest satisfaction report by Oracle Food and Beverage found that, on average, it takes 12 minutes from asking for a check to paying it and being able to leave. By significantly reducing this wait time, mobile pay-at-table is a great fit for operators dedicated to creating a frictionless experience for their guests. For wait-staff, one benefit of speeding up the payment process is the ability to turn tables faster, which means greater potential to earn more in tips within the same timeframe.

Although mobile pay-at-table speeds up payment regardless of how busy your restaurant is, the value of the solution is particularly evident for stores that experience dramatic peaks and troughs in service - for example, during busy times of the day or year such as the lunch time rush or holiday season. By letting guests pay themselves, you can take pressure off staff during peak times so they can focus on more valuable activity such as guest engagement and fulfilment that improve overall service.

Restaurant Customer Demographics

Pay-at-table lends itself well to restaurants that cater to demographics comfortable with mobile and are looking for speed and convenience. Young families, large groups, professionals in a rush, travel dining, and digital-native demographics are all a good fit.

An Appetite For Greater Restaurant POS Integration

Precursor to a wider digital strategy or slots right Into existing initiatives

Mobile pay-at-table is a great solution to kick off your digital ambitions, thanks to its lightweight nature in terms of deployment and operational impact. A nice aspect of the technology is that it also has the potential to evolve into a wider offering. For example, brands that prefer to take a phased approach to their digital deployments can start with mobile pay-at-table. When the business, staff and its customers are comfortable, then you can add ordering capabilities. This might lead to other, more ambitious, implementations of conversational ordering or omni-channel order, pay and fulfilment. Whatever your plans, mobile pay-at-table is a light touch, quick and simple precursor to your wider digital transformation journey.

If you already have an app and want to activate payment, that’s not a problem, either. The best mobile pay-at-table solutions allow you to integrate payment functionality into existing native apps using APIs/SDKs.

Integration

Many restaurants are looking to provide integrated, seamless experiences, not only for their guests but to streamline internal operations, too. Mobile pay-at-table solutions that are integrated to restaurant POS systems addresses this frictionless aspiration. From a staff perspective, guests pay and the check is closed off on the POS, allowing the table to be cleared and turned for the next sitting. Staff don’t need to constantly be on the lookout for a credit card or cash to be placed on the table. They don’t need to manually close the check on the till, and they don’t need to wait for their colleagues to finish with the PED device to use it for their own section. From a broader operational perspective, a pay-at-table solution that’s integrated to POS means you don’t need to worry about reconciliation, third-party devices or transactions as everything flows through your POS and payment provider.

The secret sauce: operational leadership that drives staff motivation

You may have the appetite for the technology, and you and your guests may fit the perfect pay-at-table profile but, even with all the will in the world, the solution won’t be a success unless you have operational leadership that is also bought-in, motivated and leads the initiative from the top down.

The success of mobile pay-at-table lies in customer adoption, which relies mostly on you as the brand changing consumer behavior. Your staff are the biggest weapon in the fight to change the way consumers behave as they’re interacting with guests day-in, day-out. Proper staff and manager training, and incentives and motivation organized, communicated and encouraged from the top, will have a significant influence on the levels of customer uptake. Unless your organization has the right culture and operational leadership, mobile pay-at-table will never fully deliver on the value it promises. 

Ultimately, mobile pay-at-table is a flexible antidote to many challenges faced by restaurants today. It’s not resource intensive to set-up and implement compared with other digital order and pay solutions, yet it packs a punch in terms of value. Its benefits are wide-ranging, from reducing incidences of fraudulent chargebacks and enabling frictionless experiences to reducing reliance on Pin Entry Devices (PED) and accelerating operations. It’s a perfect fit for fast-casual restaurants in high-volume locations that serve digital-native demographics but, at the same time, offers real value for table-service restaurants of all shapes and sizes.

Learn more about pay-at-table:

www.qikserve.com/pay

Learn more about how QikServe pay-at-table Integrates with Oracle Simphony restaurant point of sale.

Subscribe to our blog to learn more about Oracle MICROS Simphony Restaurant POS integrations and table service POS.

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