After a year marked by change, new solutions continue to emerge across the food and beverage industry. From a payments perspective, here are the trends I see sticking around, and how to include them in your plans for 2021.
The flight to digital
Back in April, during the early days of the pandemic, a study in the US revealed that 52% of consumers said they would stick to their new digital grocery shopping methods after the crisis ends. As we close 2020, trends toward safety, efficiency, and personal service show no signs of slowing down. Already we’ve seen quick service and fast casual restaurants lead the way, adapting to new regulations and customer behaviors faster than most industries.
Digital was steadily growing but now has been supercharged. Customers are seeking out alternative ordering and payment methods. This includes AI-enabled self-service kiosks, pay-at-table, and mobile apps that offer ease of use and a more personal experience. Change has been accelerated but will continue to be a constant so making the right moves now can set up a new year of success.
Contactless is here to stay
Contactless payment options, whether through tap-to-pay, mobile wallets, or apps have solidified their position in our daily lives. In a survey of over 25,000 consumers globally, 54% prefer contactless payment methods and 23% want restaurants to use technology to improve the experience.
Touch-free technology not only attracts customers but increases loyalty. QR codes in particular are seeing a resurgence. Their versatility allows restaurants to use them for a variety of interactions – from menus and membership programs to payments and contact tracing.
The good news is there are new contactless tech options emerging to meet these demands. And these advances aren’t just for the consumers’ benefit but for the frontline staff as well. With employee retention concerns and cost pressures mounting in 2021, choices that improve safety and efficiency are wise investments, end to end.
Convenience is crucial
Contactless payments may have surged out of necessity. But as their usage increased, customers have come to realize how much more convenient they are. Consider the increasingly popular curbside pickup – one US survey found that 40% of customers have increased their use of curbside pickup for restaurants. Other market research has also discovered that digital and delivery orders have increased to 65%, despite a 25% decline in traffic.
The takeaway? Customers will shift to pathways that offer them the highest level of convenience. But to implement this model, restaurants need an integrated solution for accepting all forms of digital payments.
Ownership of the delivery process is also important. Another survey showed that 4 in 10 respondents would blame the restaurant for a poor delivery experience – even if it was through a third-party app. Whether this is achieved through restaurants deploying their own delivery service or through delivery service providers like Uber Eats or Deliveroo, they must shoulder responsibility for the end-to-end process.
Increased efficiency doesn’t always stem from digital solutions. The redesigning of physical spaces can also provide a speed advantage, especially for QSRs. Three-quarters of consumers are visiting drive-thrus as often or more often than before. Yet, the average drive-thru time for QSRs was 357 seconds – 30 seconds slower than 2019. This slowdown is estimated to cost each store $32,000 per year.
How payments can help
One solution is to implement a system that can help manage payments, inventory, menu options, and labor. With a single overarching system in place, food and beverage businesses can quickly identify the most optimal areas for boosting their efficiency (e.g. by speeding up new hire onboarding). This solution should of course also be able to support the various contactless payment options.
One example of a restaurant that has done this successfully is Wagamama, a British pan-Asian fast casual restaurant chain. By partnering with Adyen as its payments platform and Oracle’s MICROS Simphony Point-of-Sale (POS) and kitchen display system, the chain has managed to implement self-service kiosks and drive most customers toward its online mobile ecosystem.
That now serves as its primary customer channel, as customers can complete the entire process, from order to checkout, within it. Further, this has also allowed the chain to expand beyond its traditional younger customer demographic – an underappreciated benefit of this forced innovation that restaurants may recognize as the crisis subsides.
Rising to the challenge
Given the scale of the challenges facing the industry, restaurants have been forced to adapt at an incredible pace. We’ve already seen innovative restaurateurs rise to the COVID-19 challenge and blaze new trails in customer experience. With continued forward-thinking and the right tech stack in place, there’s nothing this industry can’t overcome.
Improve your off-premises operations
Oracle Food and Beverage and our Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) members like Adyen work with restaurateurs worldwide to make online and mobile ordering, drive-thru and curbside pick-up efficient and profitable. If you’re interested in speaking to one of our experts, our team is standing by to answer any questions you may have about the right solution for your restaurant. Reach us by phone: US: +1 866-287-4736; UK: +44 207 5626 827; AU: 1300 366 386; LAD: 52 559 178 3146) | chat | or request a call back.