The Future of The Drive-Thru Window

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Since the early 1900s, fast food has satisfied the cravings of busy diners all across the nation. But while today’s fast food and quick service restaurants are cooking up orders in record time, payments options, such as debit and credit cards or simply cash, are struggling to keep pace. Card-not-present and contactless payment options may soon change that. Find out how these new payment technologies can increase loyalty and improve the customer experience from the restaurant’s till to the drive-thru window.

The benefits of restaurant tech

It’s easy to see why so many diners are choosing card-not-present payment options at checkout. From mobile apps to cloud computing, such innovations can save busy diners precious minutes. Better yet, card-not-present payment options enable consumers to complete transactions whenever and wherever they’d like. While it’s more expensive for restaurant owners to process in-app or online payments, diners tend to order more online than in person. In many cases, this uptick in sales can be enough to offset the extra cost of card-not-present transactions.

Yet another payment option that’s made waves in the restaurant industry is contactless payments. Much has been made about the speed—or lack thereof—of EMV transactions. By simply tapping a mobile phone, wristband or key fob over a contactless reader on an enabled terminal, diners can complete a transaction within seconds. Mobile payments, including Apple, Android and Samsung Pay, are EMV compliant, meaning diners enjoy the same protection at the point-of-sale without the wait.

In addition to speed and convenience, contactless payments also feature a wide range of security measures that benefit both diners and restaurant owners. For example, a unique series of numbers are assigned to each virtual credit card stored within a mobile wallet. This ensures that even if a merchant’s transaction information is compromised, a diner’s actual credit card number stays out of the hands of fraudsters.

Last but not least, cloud-based payments have started to draw interest from restaurant owners who want to offer diners even more payment options. Perhaps the biggest proponent of this is Amazon, which has implemented cloud-based payments in its brick and mortar stores. Other restaurants have followed suit—and for good reason. Not only do cloud-based payments make for a convenient transaction, they also enable restaurants to collect valuable insights based on a diner’s order.

Roadblocks ahead

From increased sales to an improved diner experience, restaurant tech stands to benefit both restaurant owners and their customers. These new technologies, however, can also introduce a few challenges restaurant owners need to prepare for. When it comes to repetitive tasks, front- and back-of-house staff members commonly develop routines—and stick to them. Implementing a new piece of restaurant technology without first considering how it may impact those routines could spell trouble.

Restaurant owners should use company-wide meetings or individual training sessions to teach their employees how to use new restaurant technology and explain how it may affect restaurant operations. Such efforts will go a long way toward winning the support of restaurant employees who are skeptical of new payment options. Perhaps even more importantly, keeping your staff up to date on upcoming changes will make your restaurant’s transition to new payment options that much easier.

What to consider before getting started

Before pulling the trigger on the latest payment option available, restaurant owners may want to consider how it fits within their restaurant. For example, some restaurants are committed to getting diners through their doors in less than 10 minutes. Others provide a more leisurely dining experience that encourages plenty of interaction between customers and employees. Choose a payment option that compliments your restaurant’s dining experience and keeps things running smoothly.

If you’re looking to maximize savings, find a payment method with low processing fees. Don’t get a lot of foot traffic near your restaurant? Invest in card-not-present payment options that enable customers to complete their order online. Regardless of where your restaurant is located or who your target customer is, there’s a payment option that can meet your needs and preferences. Make sure each payment option you adopt does just that.

Card-not-present and contactless payment options are among the many new payment technologies taking the restaurant industry by storm. But while these innovations can enhance the diner’s experience and beef up payment security, they also present a few challenges to restaurant owners, including getting front- and back-of-house staff up to speed on new payment methods. By carefully weighing the pros and cons of each payment technology, restaurant owners can choose the one that best aligns with their goals for 2017 and beyond.

Chris Francis is Vice President of Market Development at Worldpay US, a global payments provider for all channels: in-store, online and via mobile. To learn more, visit www.worldpay.com/us.