A cashless revolution is upon us. Restaurants across the country are ditching coins and notes in favour of plastic, and for very good reason. Not only are card payments quicker and easier for customers and businesses but, by embracing plastic, the dreaded cashing up at the end of a shift, with the threat of an unbalanced till, is no longer a headache. Cash is no longer king.
Those reluctant to believe a cashless society is fast approaching (remember cheques?) should think again. Statistics from UK Finance show that 2017 was a pivotal year for payments, with card transactions outweighing cash for the first time at a score of £13.2bn for card versus £13.1bn for cash. “We expect the trend to continue as customers and businesses increasingly opt for the convenience of paying in a way that suits them,” it says.
The fall in cash payments can be attributed to a number of factors, not least the rise of contactless payments as well as through mobile phone technology and payment apps, which have done away with the need for customers to ask for the bill altogether.
Barclaycard’s recently trialled Dine & Dash technology is one such example. Central to the system is an electronic ‘totem’, which customers tap with their phone to check in, before ordering their meal, eating and then leaving without the need to ask for a bill, since their payment details are already registered. It is technology like this that is expected to become the norm in casual-dining restaurants within the next decade.
The benefits of going cashless
Enabling customers to pay their bill using their phones is just one of the many benefits that cashless payment systems offer customers. Such technology can also dramatically improve customer experience and encourage return visits which – in today’s highly competitive eating-out climate – is vital.
Research from Barclaycard of 2,000 adults who have eaten at a restaurant in the past year reveals that over a third of restaurant-goers (36%) find waiting for the bill the most frustrating part of the eating-out experience and a quarter (25%) would consider walking out without paying if the wait for the bill was too long. According to Barclaycard’s research, the longest wait-time to receive and pay a bill in restaurants is 19 minutes, and yet waiting is eliminated with its Dine & Dash system.
“Eating out is something we all look forward to, yet our research shows that waiting to pay is an increasing frustration,” says Nick Kerigan, managing director of Future Payments at Barclaycard. “Building on our experience in ‘invisible payments’, we wanted to create an innovative solution that removes any barriers to enjoying the meal, while also helping restaurants deliver great service and keep those diners coming back.”
Moreover, two thirds (67%) of restaurant owners (from a survey of 300 restaurateurs conducted with OnePoll) are in favour of an ‘invisibill’ way to pay to improve service and customer satisfaction, it says.
Based on these findings, the company has now begun trials of its ‘just walk out’ Dine & Dash for restaurants. To avoid restaurant staff thinking customers have done a runner, the totem on the table changes colour to show a payment has successfully been made – this is invaluable given that 60% of restaurant owners have seen customers leave without paying, says Barclaycard.
In addition, diners can have the option to split the bill, add a tip and apply a discount, giving them much greater control of the payment process. And no matter which method they use, all diners can see their bill total in real time and receive a digital receipt, so they can keep track of their spending.
Two thirds of restaurant owners
are in favour of an ‘invisibill’ way to pay
to improve service and customer satisfaction
Another benefit of such payment systems is that it frees up front-of-house staff to focus on providing better customer service rather than having to deal with the backwards and forwards of handing over a bill and then a PDQ machine and then finally closing a table.
Research from Barclaycard shows that 95% of restaurateurs would prefer if their staff could focus on delivering good service, rather than spending time on taking payment.
The future of restaurant payments
With the ability to offer so many benefits, the new wave of apps and payment systems seem likely to sound the death knell for cash in the restaurant world over the coming years.
According to Barclaycard, 55% of restaurateurs predict a future where the physical bill no longer exists and an incredible 90% are interested in seeing new technology improve the ways that customers can make payments.
Indeed, a number of restaurants have already taken the plunge and gone cash free – and are reaping the benefits. Healthy fast-food restaurant group Tossed is one such example.
According to Tossed, its decision to become the first restaurant group in Europe to introduce completely cashless stores in 2016 has resulted in “massive benefits” for its restaurants.
The company operates self-service kiosks at its sites, which it says have cut the average service time from nine to three minutes. The maximum number of people restaurants can serve at once has also risen from six to 23, with the kiosks increasing customisation on orders and also helping to boost minimum spend. Instead of leading to a reduction in labour costs, staff have instead been redeployed to preparing food and serving customers.
Charlotte’s Group, which operates three restaurants in Chiswick and Ealing, was also an adopter of a cashless approach to business. It made the decision to only accept payment by card and Apple Pay at its Charlotte’s W5 restaurant in a bid to keep its prices competitive against the multiples and chains without compromising on quality.
The company says that, with no cash, it has a fully integrated sales, payment and accounting system that saves hours of counting every day, trips to the bank and bookkeeping time. It has even enabled it to negotiate lower card processing rates and reduce opportunities for theft and, therefore, insurance premiums.
In fact, the company reports that it saves more than £40,000 a year on administrative costs and has since rolled its approach out to its Charlotte’s Bistro and Charlotte’s Place restaurants. Is there a better incentive to look at alternative payment methods in your restaurant business?