Order up! Dishing the latest payment processing news for the food industry

If you’re in the restaurant business, you need to accept credit cards. If you’re not doing so, you’re not meeting your customers’ expectations and you risk losing them to your competition. Well over 90 percent of all restaurants in the United States already accept credit and debit cards, a statistic highlighted in the recent TSYS  Guide to Credit Card Processing for Restaurants. Moreover, “Eighty-one percent of money spent at full-service restaurants [is] charged to debit, credit or prepaid cards, up from 66 percent in 2004,” notes the Guide, further evidence for why taking credit cards is mission-critical for restaurants, not to mention retail stores.  

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Order Up! Dishing the Latest Payment Processing News for the Food Industry

Apr 6, 2018

Order up! Dishing the latest payment processing news for the food industry

If you’re in the restaurant business, you need to accept credit cards. If you’re not doing so, you’re not meeting your customers’ expectations and you risk losing them to your competition. Well over 90 percent of all restaurants in the United States already accept credit and debit cards, a statistic highlighted in the recent TSYS  Guide to Credit Card Processing for Restaurants. Moreover, “Eighty-one percent of money spent at full-service restaurants [is] charged to debit, credit or prepaid cards, up from 66 percent in 2004,” notes the Guide, further evidence for why taking credit cards is mission-critical for restaurants, not to mention retail stores.

If you already accept credit cards, the next step is to ask yourself whether your establishment is EMV® compliant. It’s in your best interest to become EMV-compliant as soon as possible because it helps protect you—and your customers—from fraudulent transactions, a point made in the post, how to become EMV-compliant.

If you’re already EMV-compliant and customers are “dipping” their cards at your establishment, that’s great. If not, this is an opportunity to upgrade your payment processing technology, thereby speeding up transaction times and driving additional purchases, among other benefits.

Restaurants and the Latest Ordering, Payment Trends

As you probably know, the ways in which customers are ordering and paying for food are evolving, and restaurants—from the largest fast-food chains to stand-alone, independent food trucks—need to change with the times or risk getting left behind. You may have noticed that McDonald’s customers can now use the McDonald’s App to place their order before arriving at the restaurant. As soon as the customer checks in using their smartphone, the restaurant charges the customer’s payment card, and McDonald’s employees begin preparing the food. Then the customer can pick up their order inside the restaurant or at the drive-thru, or even have their order delivered—by an employee—to a curbside parking spot.

At the same time, independent food trucks are also taking advantage of the latest in payment technologies to help drive business, which explains, in part, why so many food truck businesses are thriving. Some cities even have food truck parks—like Nashville’s six-day-a-week Food Truck City—where multiple trucks assemble in one place to serve workers and tourists alike. Thanks to mobile credit card processing(mPOS) solutions, most food trucks now accept credit cards using a card reader and app-equipped mobile device, which helps speed transactions, gives customers the option of a digital or paper receipt, and reduces the risk of theft.

Traditional retailers enjoy the same benefits with mPOS solutions—as well as additional benefits—as taking payments on, say, a tablet enables salespeople to make a sale anywhere in a store. This reduces the length of checkout lines and helps customers make faster purchasing decisions, thereby driving higher revenues.

Tableside Payment and Other Restaurant Payment Processing Options

Another trend in the restaurant industry is tableside payment, where the server brings a point-of-sale device to the customer instead of: dropping off the check in a billfold, retrieving the billfold after the customer has provided their credit card, and then making another trip back to the table with a receipt that the customer must sign. Hospitality Technology notes that there are numerous benefits of enabling tableside payment, including faster table turns, potentially higher tips for servers and reduced chargebacks. “Moving from three to four table turns per shift can increase revenue by 20-25 percent,” advises the article.

Another benefit of tableside payment is that the customers’ credit card never leaves the customer’s sight, which helps protect cardholder data and reduces the risk of credit card skimming by servers. As is the case in the retail industry, employee fraud is typically more of a threat than the risk of fraud by outsiders. In fact, PwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2018 “revealed a significant increase in the share of economic crime committed by internal actors (from 46% in 2016 to 52% in 2018). Indeed, internal actors [are] a third more likely than external actors to be the perpetrators of the most disruptive frauds.”

With that in mind, the above-referenced Hospitality Technology article identifies eight helpful best practices for rolling out tableside payment. At the top of the list is “train[ing] servers not only to use the pay-at-the-table technology, but also to inform customers why it’s being implemented—chiefly, to keep their card data secure.” Also, you’ll want to make sure the point-of-sale device is EMV-compliant and able to take contactless payments, which are enabled by Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This allows customers to simply wave or tap the device—or use an EMV chip card—in front of the NFC receiver at checkout.

While mobile wallets and contactless payments haven’t yet become ubiquitous, it seems likely that consumers will use order-ahead functionality and make mobile payments (including contactless payments) with increasing frequency going forward. While the technologies have helped to speed up the ordering and payment process, one early challenge for the restaurant industry has been making the pickup process as seamless as ordering and making the payment. Geek Wire noted how mobile payments account for 30% of Starbucks’ transactions, yet “[t]he growth of Mobile Order and Pay has caused congestion issues inside stores for customers trying to pick up their coffee and food. Starbucks responded by adding dedicated stations for mobile order-ahead customers … and giving baristas new tablets.”

Yet as a whole, it’s clear that the industry still needs to refine the customer experience to encourage wider adoption. But judging by the interest, mPOS clearly has whet the appetites of merchants and customers alike in the restaurant and food industry. 

EMV is a registered trademark or trademark of EMVCo LLC in the United States and other countries. ©2017 Total System Services, Inc. TSYS® is a federally registered service mark of Total System Services, Inc.

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