Mobile Payment Takes Customer-Facing Technology to Next Level
While cell phones have been around for almost two decades, the last few years have seen a boom of innovation in the tech space. It all starts with the smartphone, which has revolutionized communications technology with an operating system that enables it to perform functions similar to a computer. Smartphone user can access the internet at their fingertips and navigate across many different applications (apps) that they download to the device.
FINGERS DO THE TALKING
One smartphone capability that promises to have maximum impact on the foodservice industry is called mobile pay, which takes customer-facing technology to the next level. Restaurants that offer mobile payment capability enable customers to order what they want on the menu, and then pay their bill right from their smartphones, without waiting for a server to take their order or present them with their bill. The process is fast, easy and secure. Credit and debit card information is stored within the app, and can be changed whenever the smartphone owner designates. When a restaurant purchase is made, the device account number and a transaction-specific security code are used to process the payment. According to these providers, the customer’s actual credit or debit card numbers are not shared or transmitted, which can lead to a more secure process.
Some of the players at the forefront of mobile payment technology are Apple Pay, Level Up, Dash, Square, PayPal and Tabbed Out. There are others as well. For example, Open Table, the ubiquitous online reservation service, now offers mobile payment capability as well.
But are operators fully taking advantage of all this tech? More are starting to. For example, last fall, Panera Bread announced integration with Apple Pay, which simplifies the check-out process for cashiers and makes the Panera retail experience faster and more convenient for customers. “We’re proud to be one of the first retailers to accept Apple Pay using iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch,” said Blaine Hurst, the Panera Chief Technology and Transformation Officer. “For us, it’s a natural extension of Panera 2.0, which brings together digital ordering, multiple payment options and improved operational processes to deliver an enhanced guest experience.” Panera guests simply hold their devices near the contactless readers at checkout, while keeping a finger on Touch ID to make a payment. They can also order ahead and have their order ready for pick-up or delivery.
Chipotle also recently began offering this capability to their customers with Apple Pay. Sweet Green utilizes Level Up. The Pump Room in Chicago uses Open Table’s mobile payment app. As this phenomenon gains momentum, more and more of your customers will request mobile payment. It may not be appropriate for your operation at this moment, but it’s certainly worth your time in investigating the technology. Your distributor sales consultant is a good place to start. You do not want to be caught snoozing in the customer-facing technology department.