How Restaurants and Hotels Can Prepare for the Mobile POS Evolution
Mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) is growing in popularity at a rapid rate, with analysts predicting that the yearly number of mPOS transactions across retail verticals will triple by 2023. The hospitality industry in particular is utilizing mPOS to enhance the customer experience and increase sales opportunities anywhere. This technological advancement has resulted in digital restaurant orders growing at an average annual rate of 23% since 2013, with the majority of digital order growth completed by mobile apps.
The hospitality environment is often busy, with numerous customers and guests demanding attention from staff. Long waiting times lower customers’ satisfaction and leave them with a bad taste in their mouth when they walk out the door. That’s why restaurants and hotels that implement a mobile POS solution don’t only promote a seamless checkout experience, but also enhance the overall experience, and ultimately, long-term loyalty.
The mobile POS evolution is upon us, and it’s time for restaurants and hotels to step up their game and better serve their customers. Here’s a few key steps to follow to ensure a mobile POS implementation that will successfully meet the demands of modern customers:
Prepare for Payments
These days, customers are looking for choices in how, when and where they pay. They want options and they want to be in control. In order meet these demands and enhance the customer experience, it’s important for restaurants and hotels to ensure they have agile and innovative payments technology, future-proofing their business so that it caters to customers’ needs now and in the future.
Restaurants and hotels can’t perfectly predict what new technology or service companies will develop in the future, and it’s even harder to know which ones customers will latch onto and demand down the road. That’s why the systems supporting the mPOS payments must be as flexible as the POS itself.
Whether it’s QR code-based payments, contactless, mobile pay, foreign payments like WeChat and Alipay, peer-to-peer payments like Venmo, or the next-gen payment system yet to be developed, the payments middleware must be flexible and adaptable. By implementing a system that is prepared for the payments needs of today and whatever comes next, the hospitality industry can eliminate a significant number of pain points and delight the customer.
Mobile devices represent a significant investment, and integrations with other systems, such as inventory and workforce management, allow ROI to be realized on a shorter timescale. In addition to these "traditional" mobile applications, CRM integration is a must-have – empowering the employee to interact with the customer in front of them in a personal manner that multiplies the effectiveness of the mobile device.
The worst thing that can happen with a new investment is for it to become instantly obsolete. This future-proof requirement of course holds true for mPOS too, which should come with a flexible infrastructure to adapt as regulatory requirements evolve and push stronger encryption, blockchain technologies strengthen transaction integrity, and device tracking, tamper resistance and many more capabilities enter the mainstream.
Employee access to customer information is a game-changer for mobile POS. As the world becomes increasingly geared towards self-service – kiosks, mobile checkout, take-out, order online – businesses must provide employees the tools they need to give customers a novel experience, one that they can't get from a computer. They need to incentivize that customer to walk in a first time and to come back again by creating a sense of real engagement. AI algorithms simply cannot provide "the human touch" that customers still want, and employees must be given the information and data they need to make that connection during the short time they have the customer's attention.
Make the experience frictionless
All in all, restaurants and hotels must strive to make the entire experience frictionless. The process has to be seamless and natural, and that must be true even when inevitable hiccups and errors occur. Every mobile POS can deal with the 80% of the cases where everything is fine. The differentiator is the other 20% – when that customer's reservation is lost or their credit card is declined or whatever it may be. The last thing your employee needs is to dig through layers of menus, filling out long forms, or bringing over the manager to make things right. Mobile technology needs to make standard transactions frictionless, but it must also do the same for the exceptions.
The emergence of mobile POS will continue to change the way hospitality customers engage with proprietors in the coming years. The ease of use and ability to streamline interactions will contribute to an increase in revenue and more loyal customers. Staff will have the ability to serve customers anywhere and turn tables faster and more efficiently. Customers already expect this type of innovation, and those who get ready now will stay ahead of the competition and be ready for whatever the future holds.
About the Author
Eddie Deyo is Vice President of Software Development, GK Software.