How the latest payment systems can help build a better business

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Using restaurant payment systems to build a better business
Paying the bill can often be the most frustrating and clunky part of the eating-out experience for both the restaurant operator and the consumer. 

Paying the bill can often be the most frustrating and clunky part of the eating-out experience for both the restaurant operator and the consumer. With restaurants focusing on increasing their bottom line and improving the customer experience, ensuring a fast and efficient process for payments is crucial.

Payment systems have undergone a revolution in recent years with contactless, debit cards and Chip & Pin leading the way and mobile payments starting to gain significant traction. According to Payments UK, cash payments will shift from accounting for roughly half (45%) of all payments made in 2015 to just one in four (27%) by 2025 – with debit card payments overtaking notes and coins by 2021.

Speed and ease should be front of mind for restaurant operators, with many people now prioritising quick service (37%) over menu choice (33%) and value (21%), according to Barclaycard. Contactless is driving much of this payments market, despite the £30 transaction limit. Half of people pay by contactless at least once a month – with a fifth (21%) planning to increase their usage even further this year, according to Barclaycard.

Eating out is increasingly a non-contact sport

“Contactless payments help restaurants meet the needs of today’s convenience-driven consumer and, in turn, can help to increase sales,” says Tami Hargreaves, director of digital consumer payments at Barclaycard. “Indeed, Barclaycard research shows that pressure is mounting on restaurants to offer solutions to speed up the payment process, with 15% of people more likely to choose venues which offer contactless payments.”

The latest Barclaycard Contactless Spending Index backs up this research and shows that these payments in the hospitality sector surged in 2016, rising by 79% in restaurants.

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15% of people are more likely to choose venue which offer contactless payments

The growth of contactless and mobile payments is an area that Nigel Hyslop, president and managing director UK at Global Payments, also believes is part of a revolution that restaurants need to be at the forefront of.

“Accepting contactless payments has become the new norm offering the potential to deliver efficiency and cost savings as most of them offer instant access to invoices online and stock acquisition control, as well as data retrieval and management information technology,” he says. “We expect more and more customers to pay with their smartphone, with technology providers further developing ever more exciting wallet and app propositions and other payment tools.”

Phoning it in: the growth of mobile payments

While mobile is still - relatively speaking, at least - in its infancy it is growing and is something that many restaurant operator cannot afford to ignore. Recent research from Vouchercodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research reveals that spending on mobile is set to hit £27bn in the UK this year.

The sheer speed of mobile payments – which can eliminate the need for a customer to even have to ask for a bill -  ensures a quicker turnover of tables, ultimately helping businesses to drive additional sales. It can also allow staff to focus on the customer experience rather than spending time taking payments with PDQ machines.

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Mobile payments are building significant traction 

It is a trend that Comtrex, one of the leading EPOS suppliers to the hospitality industry, recognised early on. The company partnered with QKR!, the Mastercard app, which allows the electronic point-of-sale system to communicate directly with the app. The app, which is already being used by the likes of Wagamama, Zizzi and Ask Italian, was designed to take the pain out of payments but also allows customers to order items from a restaurant menu without even needing to call a member of staff over.

“When it comes to paying, the customer simply checks out via the mobile device and can add gratuity in the normal way and split the bill with other people to spread the cost,” says Clive Keywood, sales manager at Comtrex.

He admits that mobile payments may not suit every demographic but believes it is the future for the hospitality sector. “The key thing is that payments are done a lot quicker and smoother but when you are using the app you are also getting the relevant data. You know what customers are coming in and what they are spending. You can then use that in a CRM and database management tool.”

Elliott Goldenberg, head of digital payments in UK & Ireland for Mastercard, says the app is one of a raft of payment options that restaurants can benefit from.

“We are currently in the middle of a payments revolution in this part of the world where we are moving at pace from what was a very traditional card acceptance experience,” he says. “We have moved quickly into a very mature contactless market and we are starting to move into the next phase with mobile.”

Goldenberg says plans to increase the limit on contactless above the current £30 will have a major impact on the restaurant and hospitality sector, helping to drive increased business. “The more we have seen people use contactless the more we have seen the appetite to use it. The rise of high contactless is going to make a particular impact especially on restaurant and hospitality,“ he says.

By using sophisticated payments technology, restaurants can see other benefits, too. One major benefit for restaurants is data. Knowing what the customers are eating and how often they eat out at the restaurant can be a great marketing tool.

“If we start to link the data and individuals and what they are eating, it becomes very powerful. However, you have to know what you can do with that data and be able to act on it,” says Tom Weaver, CEO of mobile payments company Flypay.

Zapper is using its mobile payments app to help businesses drive repeat custom. As well as fast payments using a QR code, the app can also offer vouchers and provide a restaurant owner with analytical information. It can also request customer feedback and give a restaurant an opportunity to respond in real time via the app. “Mobile payments match a name to every order so you know who your customers are. Those that use Zapper can reward customers based on previous spend if they so wish,” says James Sykes Hagen, business development director at Zapper.

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Watch this space: smartwatches can be used to settle the bill too

What’s coming next

The payments sector is evolving quickly. Wearable devices such as the Barclaycard bPay range are making it possible for consumers to pay using smartwatches and fitness bands. Facial recognition technology is likely to see widespread usage soon: Mastercard is currently developing a technology that will allow a ‘selfie’ to be used as a means of authenticating payment. Flashy stuff.

This BigHospitality feature was sponsored by Comtrex Systems

Comtrex Systems are EPOS experts. Whether you run a small coffee shop, or are after your next Michelin star, have a single outlet or are a national chain, we have the tools and expertise to help your business. For more information, visit www.comtrex.co.uk​ or contact the sales department on 01293 789506.

Related topics: Payments