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Festivals & Fintech How Food Trucks Can Jazz Up Their Business with Payments

Here's how food trucks can improve the payments experience for their customers, streamline their wait lines, and strengthen their seasonal businesses.
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With the Fourth of July behind us, it’s the height of summer, and that means festival season – with Lollapalooza in Chicago, San Francisco’s Outside Lands, and Montreal’s Osheaga music festival all scheduled for the next few weeks. Beyond the fun, festivals also mean business, especially for seasonal merchants such as food trucks, pop-up stores, ice-cream trucks and other food vendors on the go. To ensure an unparalleled customer experience and maximize their profits, these businesses need to offer customers the latest payments technology without neglecting a single transactional preference.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic and related festival cancellations, the popularity of summer events has skyrocketed, drawing large crowds of eager attendees. As a result, food trucks and other seasonal merchants face unprecedented queues, further complicating the unique challenges of payment acceptance on the go. Inefficient transactions or, even worse, not supporting a festivalgoer’s preferred payment method can dampen the customer experience and ultimately impact sales. That’s why it’s crucial for merchants to invest in cutting-edge point of sale (POS) technology.

Modern POS devices are designed specifically for mobile businesses like food trucks and pop-up stores to take payments on the go. With wireless connectivity, a mobile POS solution enables merchants to accept payments anytime, anywhere, without being tethered to a traditional cash register. Speeding up transactions, the payments technology reduces the wait-time and length of queues, while improving overall customer satisfaction, increasing the chance of repeat purchases and a business being recommended to fellow festivalgoers.

It’s essential for merchants to offer all consumers’ preferred payment methods, and here a mobile POS is key. Americans’ preferred payment way of buying food in-person is by using their physical debit card or credit card, with almost four out of 10 (37%) favoring a card, according to Paysafe’s April 2023 ‘Lost in Transaction’ research report.

Through a mobile POS, food trucks and other merchants can also further streamline the transaction by supporting ‘tap and pay’ as an alternative to chip-and-PIN or swiping the card. With Paysafe’s recent research revealing that a majority of Americans (52%) make contactless payments at least monthly, this sort of frictionless transaction is fast becoming a consumer expectation.

Of course, contactless payments also includes mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, which allow consumers to use their smartphones to transact directly using these apps with a merchant’s POS. U.S. diners actually prefer using a mobile wallet to cash when it comes to buying food, with 21% saying Apple Pay or another wallet is their go-to for such transactions.

And cash? Many Americans do still prefer the country’s oldest payment method for food purchases. It would therefore be a mistake for food trucks and other festival merchants to go completely cash-less and miss out on business from festivalgoers who prefer cash to cards and mobile wallets. 

But beyond specific payment methods, the latest POS solutions are far more than a way to process payments. They also provide valuable analytics and reporting tools. A food truck’s staff can, for instance, use the POS device to review data on sales, customer preferences for the dishes they offer plus buying patterns, allowing the merchant to make informed business decisions. This data-driven approach empowers the food truck to refine their offering, drive sales, and improve overall customer satisfaction.

And a POS solution’s analytics include robust reporting and inventory management features that ensure that merchants can keep track of their stock levels in real-time. By knowing which items are selling well and when to restock, merchants can optimize their offerings and avoid running out of popular items.

Finally, small businesses’ use of mobile POS systems is becoming more and more widespread in North America, so consumers’ brand recognition of system providers is higher than ever. Using a recognized POS system, which relies on advanced and encryption and adheres to payments industry standards, will ensure security and strengthen consumer trust in not just a specific transaction but the festival merchant’s overall business.

Ultimately, festivals are about enjoying an experience. By leveraging payments technology without neglecting the traditional consumer preference for cash, food trucks and other seasonal merchants can ensure their businesses are helping festivalgoers enjoy their experience – all while taking home healthy profits on the side.

About the Author

Nathaniel Short, is SVP, Direct Sales at Paysafe.  Nathaniel brings close to a decade and a half of payments experience to his U.S. leadership role for the Direct Sales team of Paysafe’s Merchant Solutions division. Prior to Paysafe, he served as Director of Operations at iPayment, which was acquired by Paysafe in 2018, and held multiple roles at Flagship Merchant Services. Short is based in the Los Angeles area.


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