Key Network Trait to Maximize Mobile POS? Separate WiFi Networks
An advanced network design to support future-ready mobile POS strategy means at least two separate WiFi networks. Without two or more networks, one for the POS and the other for guest use, operators run the risk of compromising the security of payment and other sensitive data. They also open themselves up to transaction processing lags that could frustrate guests and prevent future engagement. Lags can also negatively impact employee productivity by delaying the transmission of orders to the kitchen and adding time to such tasks as closing out checks and settling guest folios. Additionally, having only one network would mean limited access to WiFi and could also be a turnoff
3 Corners Grill & Tap (www.3cornersgrill.com), with two locations in the Chicagoland area and a third set to open in April, has several separate networks: one for processing payments made using its TouchBistro (www.touchbistro.com) mobile POS system, a private network for its back-office systems, and a password-protected guest network.
“It makes sense for us because it’s the most secure,” says Frank Militello, owner. “Also, guests can use the WiFi without interference from the payments and back-office sides, and vice versa. That’s very important to getting them to engage with us.”
Of course, the network must be secure. This can be done by using the most advanced wireless network security protocols, according to Netsurion (www.netsurion.com) and Homebase (www.joinhomebase.com). WPA2 is currently the standard, but that is expected to change by the end of 2019, when more secure WiFi encryption in the form of WPA3 becomes available. Sources note that investing in the most airtight WiFi protocols to secure any network on which mobile payment data is being transmitted is worth the investment, despite the fact that mobile payment services themselves are often very secure.
Mobile point of sale (POS) is gaining ground and swiftly what was a differentiator for digitally innovative brands could be table stakes. According to Juniper Research (www.juniperresearch.com), almost one in four POS transactions will be completed on mobile devices by 2023. This amounts to 87 billion transactions per year, up from about 23 billion in 2018.
Mobile POS options rank among major technology acquisitions being considered by restaurant and hotel operators in 2019, according to Hospitality Technology’s 2019 POS Software Trends Report. Operators will be leveraging this technology to achieve strategic goals, most significantly, improving digital customer engagement, access to rich data and analytics, and employee productivity.
1. Increased Flexibility & Security
“While being able to pay via mobile in a restaurant (or hotel) is attractive to guests in and of itself, it is and will be even more attractive when there are a few different ways to do it, such as contactless, and when the security” afforded by EMV readiness and certification come into play, states Jarrod DellaChiesa, president of hospitality consulting firm DellaChiesa Hospitality (https://dellachiesahospitality.com).
One group of restaurants in New York City is currently beta-testing a mobile POS solution that lets guests pay at the table on an Apple (www.apple.com) iPad, via NFC contactless technology, as well as with magnetic stripe and chip cards. And recently Touch Dynamic (www.touchdynamic.com) introduced the Quest III rugged mobile POS tablet. The EMV Level 3-certified tablet features Magtek’s (www.magtek.com) mDynamo modularized EMV card reader with an attached encrypting IntelliHead.
Likely, the next stage of mobile POS evolution will involve biometric payments. Juniper Research estimates that by 2023, mobile biometrics will be used to authenticate $2 trillion worth of on-site and remote mobile payments annually.
2. Increased Loyalty: Leveraging Data from Single Source to Target Individuals
Evolved mobile POS that centers on the melding of mobile payment and loyalty technology gives restaurateurs and hoteliers access to more comprehensive guest data, from a single source. Digital offers and incentives can then be personalized and/or better targeted to individual customers, increasing their inclination to engage. Integrating mobile POS with loyalty could also improve the guest experience — and in turn, their level of brand engagement — by making it easier to access account information and redeem rewards at the POS, rather than wait to do so later.
Additionally, according to Toast (https://www.toasttab.com) integrating restaurant loyalty programs with mobile POS simplifies the process of persuading guests to sign up for these programs. In the case of Toast’s solution, customers can opt in to end-users’ loyalty programs as they pay for their meal on the vendor’s handheld device, either at the table or front counter.
Last year, Peet’s Coffee revamped its Peetnik Rewards loyalty program to include integration with mobile ordering and payment. Paytronix Systems (www.paytronixsystems.com) developed custom iOS and Android apps for the chain. Peetnik Rewards members can use the app to check in and pay for their beverages and food and to simultaneously select the rewards they wish to redeem during the transaction. In the six months following the revamp, Peet’s saw a 350% increase in its Peetnik Rewards membership ranks, along with a 47% increase in loyalty check penetration, according to Lisa Regelman, director of loyalty and digital engagement. Access to POS data has contributed to enhanced digital engagement because Peet’s can “see how frequently a customer comes in and what they like to buy, and target campaigns in a more one-on-one manner,” Regelman explains.
3. Increased Efficiency: Back-Office Integration Yields Operational Benefits
Integrating mobile POS with a labor management system bolsters staff efficiencies by making it possible to generate schedules based on previous and forecasted sales as well as on labor projections. Earlier this year, 3Corners Grill & Tap integrated its mobile POS with its 7shifts (www.7shifts.com) labor management system.
“With this integration, our managers are cutting schedules that are more accurate coverage-wise, so our level of productivity is just where it should be,” says Frank Militello, owner.
At the same time, he notes, 3Corners Grill & Tap is beginning to realize labor savings from the integration because it enables the enforcement of set schedules. Each time employees clock in on the POS system, their information is transmitted from that system to the labor management system. If they are not scheduled to work at that time, they are prevented from clocking in.
DellaChiesa says that if restaurateurs and hoteliers are to meet strategic goals, mobile POS must also evolve to encompass integration with inventory control and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. With access to real-time data about which items are available in a freestanding restaurant or hotel kitchen and which are not because of an ingredient shortage or other issue, traditional and hotel-based restaurants can properly update guests and avoid disappointment. Data from the CRM system, meanwhile, can be used to personalize contact with guests and maximize engagement. For example, a server can make ordering suggestions to a guest based on data that reflects previous purchases, preferences, special situations (allergies, birthdays, anniversaries).
4. Increased Sales: Out-of-the-Box Applications
The evolution of mobile POS to support strategic goals is not limited to improvements and enhancements in mobile POS technology. It also involves out-of-the-box applications.
Case in point: A Pennsylvania resort is using Agilysys’ (https://info.agilysys.com) InfoGenesis mobile POS platform to process sales of merchandise to individuals who attend sporting events there, but are not staying at the property and would not necessarily make food and beverage purchases during a visit. The mobile POS hardware is brought by cart to the resort’s fields and other areas where these events occur.