At this significant stage in the post-pandemic recovery, retailers face increasingly tough decisions about tech investment and long-term supplier choices. Before COVID hit, the industry was surprisingly still reliant on cash transactions. Many QSR industry brands were reluctant to invest in innovative payments and data-commerce ahead of the curve as a priority. This meant that they sometimes trailed other retail sectors to integrate physical digital and mobile channels and updating their payment systems.
From operational necessity to strategic imperatives, it's time for the industry to pay more than lip-service to payment innovation. Central to this process is selecting the right payments provider. As the battle to rebuild custom continues, the quick-service restaurant industry is arming itself with new commerce tools as part of its recovery strategy.
Putting payments in the spotlight
In 2019, the world had to respond fast to unprecedented disruption by finding new ways to innovate services, business models, and supply chains, integrating digital and opening the door to automated and self-service options, drive-thru, grab and go and deliveries.
Attitudes to payments changed almost overnight. Organisations already using methods such as contactless and QR codes began to offer embedded and touchless customer services. QR codes allowed them to provide contactless service in closed table environments. Those who didn't want to use QR codes, contactless and mobile wallets for payment and receipts ensure there was no physical contact with any device in self-serve or limited-service environments.
Today, retailers and franchisees increasingly recognise the importance of commerce investment and its sustained role in business continuity. New payment methods and strategies have transformed customer-interactions and created new expectations in terms of speed and convenience. They al so allow restaurants to capture even more data at the sales point and feed this back into the business to enrich CRM and loyalty applications.
E-payments systems that use encryption and tokenisation bring the added benefit of allowing restaurants to recognise and track individual customer journeys. They enable loyalty values to be transferrable across brands, locations, channels, and other synergistic restaurant partners.
With data-commerce, quick-service restaurant businesses can now simply ask customers to sign up to a static loyalty scheme or referral programme. Instead, they can fill it with more targeted and personalised incentives and use automated loyalty enhancing processes to make customer journeys and promotions more targeted and compelling. They can also tap into the power of mobile apps, making the payments process more frictionless while providing things like geolocation information such as where and when they're dining.
A focus on value and ROI
In recent years, many restaurants have struggled with cash flow and have seen their financial buffers depleted. The focus is now on the need to recoup any new investments faster than ever before. This means having access to better data and ROI metrics to support decision-making. Today, investment focus is moving beyond what competitors are doing, and sales and revenue return to what the customer truly wants and needs. Consequently, food outlets are hungry for more sophisticated tools to help them provide the ultimate frictionless experience, track demand, and get closer to their customers.
Selecting the right payments provider
But business owners cannot do it all on their own. Payment providers must contribute to re-energising the industry by supporting more flexible relationships within a broader ecosystem to drive ROI faster than ever before - especially as attitudes to risk change, and QSR industry businesses seek specialised and bespoke support from disruptors and challengers.
Providers will also have to work diligently to secure business buy-in and investment by providing tangible 'customer-experience' improvements, more compelling business use cases, and deeper, richer consultative services for brands including:
- Regular business reviews
- Dedicated training sessions
- Seamless and automated onboarding
- Enhanced reporting capabilities
As brands embark on the search for a new supplier, it is essential first to assess their delivery capabilities and ask several key questions such as:
- What is their process methodology?
- How do they gather requirements?
- Do they have specialist integration and test teams?
- How do they deliver new features and roll outs?
- How will they provide ongoing support after rollout?
Once these questions have been answered, there are several other key areas to look at, such as security, the availability of key decision-makers for collaboration and lead times for network connection.
As the 'new normal’ progress and consumer demand increases, the real winners will be those quick-service brands that have carried out a thorough business needs analysis prior to selecting a provider. They will also have looked beyond pay-tech purely as a means of acceptance and embraced it as a strategic tool to differentiate themselves, fuel customer acquisition and drive growth.
For more guidance on selecting the right payments provider as a retailer or franchisee, watch our latest webinar, delivered in conjunction with IPC Europe, owned by Subway franchisees.
About the author:
Sebastian has over nine years of experience in payments. His customer-centric approach is key across the payments spectrum, from acquiring to e-commerce and omni-channel digital solutions. He has a keen interest in innovation and a passion for helping clients navigate the complexities of the ever-changing payments landscape.