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How Payments Technology is Revolutionizing the Restaurant Industry

Modern payment solutions that allow customers to order and pay at the table are on the rise in the U.S., improving the restaurant experience without sacrificing the quality of service.

With the rise of on-demand delivery and easy-to-use checkout technology driving consumer demand for quick service, restaurant operators are implementing modern payment solutions that provide a more seamless and customer-friendly dining experience ahead of the busy summer travel season.

This year, the U.S. Travel Foundation is forecasting an increase in travel volume compared to 2022 levels, and many restaurant operators are anticipating this will lead to a surge in dining-related spending among hungry, wanderlust travelers.  

To maximize sales and successfully manage consumer expectations this summer, restaurants will need to focus on creating a positive and memorable customer experience that will help them stand out against competitors. Offering quick and easy checkout solutions can help businesses maintain a competitive advantage as the demand for convenience continues to grow among consumers and modern payment systems become increasingly popular.

The case for QR codes & mobile ordering

Modern payment methods have made paying for a dining experience more convenient, efficient, and rewarding for customers and businesses alike. In the U.S., where handheld mobile point of sale (POS) adoption has tended to lag behind Canada and Europe, there has been a significant increase in the use of QR codes and mobile ordering enabling customers to connect and interact with restaurants across multiple platforms.

With QR codes on the table, customers can access the restaurant’s menu, order, and pay for food and drinks as and when they want. Some payment technologies even allow customers to start an online tab and pay the bill at the end, so diners can initiate and complete their transactions without having to wait for a server.

The key to mastering the checkout experience for diners is to offer simple and modern approaches that help create a positive and quick payment experience. This starts by partnering with a payments provider that can offer insight into the solutions that work best for the business model, then broadening payment acceptance to include a diverse mix of solutions at the point of sale.

Modern payments and a better customer experience

Our 2022 consumer research revealed that most customers still pay for small-ticket items, such as pastries from a bakery, in cash. However, with the proliferation of digital technology and increased demand for speed and convenience at the checkout, there’s been a paradigm shift towards contactless payments among consumers in the U.S. leading more merchants to implement modern POS systems.

In fact, as enhancements in checkout technology become more accessible, many businesses understand the value of the latest developments and are actively putting them to use. In a separate study released earlier this year, which surveyed over 200 U.S. brick-and-mortar businesses, we found that 70% of merchants plan to incorporate new payments technology within the next 12 months. In the same study, we learned that the most sought-after enhancements ranged from payment terminals that enable contactless payments, or tap to pay, via a mobile device or contactless chip card to the availability of actionable customer insights.

Restaurants that have an integrated POS solution are accepting payments more than any other function, but many also use these platforms for accounting services, inventory management, gift cards, mobile loyalty programs, and even leveraging internal customer data to drive social promotion and marketing campaigns. Efficiency and maintaining greater control over the business are the two benefits that many operators cite most frequently when asked how an integrated POS helps their business build an improved customer experience.

Reduced expenses and increased retention

Recent innovations in payments technology have also allowed restaurants to reduce operating costs and increase profits by streamlining day-to-day business operations, automating manual tasks, and reducing labor costs. Implementing QR codes for menus and payments can help mitigate some of the costs of doing business. Removing the need for physical menus and the extensive amounts of receipt paper associated with traditional POS terminals reduces waste and the associated cost of maintaining physical printouts, as well as the restaurant’s bottom line overall.

Furthermore, at a time when small businesses like restaurants face significant pressure to acquire and retain customers, QR codes and mobile payments can help them to recruit loyal customers for life. As well as improving the overall dining experience, this could include rewards programs or by setting up loyalty points for repeat customers.

“We hope to see you again”: loyalty comes in

In addition to an enhanced payments experience, restaurants, including locally operated businesses, have also begun to offer loyalty programs through apps that allow customers to accrue points for their purchases. These loyalty programs not only incentivize diners to return, but they also provide businesses with valuable insights into their customers' purchasing habits and preferences. By using data from these apps, restaurants can personalize marketing campaigns and create a more engaging and rewarding experience for their most loyal customers.

The evolution of payment methods has revolutionized the way restaurants serve hungry patrons by making it more convenient to dine in or grab a bit to go. Businesses have also benefitted from the ability to streamline their operations, level up marketing initiatives and elevate the dining experience overall. It seems likely that the expansion of QR codes and mobile-enabled payments solution could stimulate long-term growth for the U.S. restaurant industry and lead more American diners to embrace pay-at-table as their counterparts do in Canada and Europe.

All indications hint that consumers are still looking forward to spending this summer travel season despite concerns about rising inflation and the cost of goods and services. By establishing a balance between technological innovation and personalization, merchants can focus on creating an enhanced customer experience while driving sales.

If you run a locally owned restaurant, learn more about Paysafe’s Merchant Services for Small Businesses.