The wise and ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, "The only true constant is change." In the modern-day food service industry, wiser words have never been spoken. Cafes, eateries, franchises, and large-scale venues worldwide stand at the edge of a watershed moment marked by radical shifts in both consumer preferences and operational procedures. Emergent restaurant tech, such as mobile payments and ordering systems, are at the forefront of this sweeping paradigm change
Let’s take a look at the current state of the global restaurant market, with an eye on both the importance of mobile payments and their direct impact on an industry in the midst of profound transitions.
Technology, convenience, and mobile payments: an industry in transition
Our story begins, or at least revs up, two years ago in the middle of a global pandemic. A concert of factors outside the public's control brought the worldwide food service industry to a screeching halt. Between restrictive social distancing measures and outright quarantines and lockdowns, cafes and eateries of all shapes and sizes were unable to carry on with business as usual.
It was a dark period across multiple market sectors, but the food service and hospitality industry was hit the hardest. Everyone from large corporate franchises to small mom-and-pop diners closed for business when the pandemic first hit.
They say that necessity is the mother of all invention. Because of necessity, entrepreneurs all over the globe had to reimagine the dining process –or face irrelevancy and the possibility of closure. While the pandemic took its toll on many entrepreneurs and cafe owners, new technological solutions soon arose to counteract some of the economic adversity brought on by the pandemic. Fortunately for business owners and their clientele, a phoenix rose from the ashes. A sleek, efficient, and transformative phoenix. Enter mobile payments.
Mobile payments: an important piece of the revolution
Wise entrepreneurs quickly realised that in order to stay open and profitable in such an unprecedented landscape, they'd have to think outside the box. Using both emergent and existing restaurant tech, the industry as a whole pivoted to a new service model that favoured less interpersonal contact and more customer autonomy.
As a result, the food service landscape shifted radically by 2021. For example, the mobile payment sub-sector ballooned into a colossal $1.97 trillion industry overnight. More than a quarter of the Earth's population, or some 3.3 billion people, began utilising mobile payment options when presented with them.
To drive home just how formative mobile payments were to the current of the restaurant industry, let's take a look at some stats from around the globe. According to the above stats, China recorded more than $63 trillion dollars worth of commerce using mobile payment options at the pandemic’s outset. While not limited specifically to food service, stats like this nevertheless underscore the transformative power of a mobile payment system, especially considering the country's rigid stance on COVID precautions.
Contrast that with the United Kingdom's mobile payment utilisation rates. A year into the pandemic, 32% of the nation's transactions were completed via mobile means. Metrics like these speak to the universal nature of mobile payments as a solution to global economic adversity. In the next section, we'll spend some time taking a granular view of the tech that's had the most profound impact on the global food service industry as a whole.
How mobile payments and other tech are transforming the industry
Large-scale change is never an easy prospect. The challenge lies in getting all key stakeholders on board. That's what makes the advent of mobile payments so striking. Restaurant owners, staff, and other key personnel of all shapes and sizes have embraced the digital trends and solutions responsible for the industry's transformation.
This brings up an interesting point: without technology as both an aide and a facilitator, would the industry have responded to adversity with such an incredible sense of agility? The answer is an unequivocal "no."
Restaurant tech is more than just a crutch. It is a pivotal piece of the puzzle, responsible for the speed at which the food service industry adapted to the harshness of the current economic climate. Below are three of the biggest tech-centric drivers that have enabled such radical change.
QR code menus
Let's begin with QR code menus. For those unfamiliar, QR codes are a special kind of barcode capable of:
- Holding large amounts of information
- Being highly adaptable to the user's purpose
These distinctive-looking barcodes aren't exactly new technology; they first came to prominence during the 90s in Japan's auto industry. And while they have been around in one way or another since then, QR codes may very well have found their ultimate purpose in the waiting arms of hospitality and food service.
Savvy entrepreneurs can link their scannable QR barcodes to a fully customisable online menu complete with descriptions and high-resolution photographs for each entree, appetiser, and dessert that they offer. If you want to change out menu items with each season, or as your establishment evolves, it's easy to alter menu entries and their accompanying media at the click of a button. QR code menus offer establishments an unprecedented level of control over their menu, but let's not forget their utility to customers as well.
Mobile payments, ordering, and delivery
Scannable QR code menus are easy and convenient for the customer to use. They promote a contactless restaurant experience that emphasises good hygiene, but they also sync up with the rest of your restaurant tech stack, creating an unstoppable powerhouse of customer interaction.
For the purposes of this article, mobile payments are the star of the show, but customers can also order menu items and peruse delivery options right from the scannable QR menu itself. Once the customer has made their selections and chosen pickup versus delivery options (where applicable), they can utilise the menu's mobile payment function. Mobile payments via QR code can sync seamlessly with your point-of-sale system to create an end-to-end solution for your establishment.
Restaurant-centric CRM platforms
What's the foundation of a successful business? Is it your food? Is it your customer service? What about your venue's atmosphere?
If you answered "All of the above," you'd be correct. A superior customer experience is the key to your ongoing success, and it is very much a mosaic of all your efforts, policies, and practices. Mobile payments and QR code menus handle the front-end, customer-facing side of the business. Your customer relationship management (CRM) software handles the back end.
Imagine this: each mobile payment you take, each QR code order you pend, provides a treasure trove of customer data. Demographic information, purchasing habits, even preferred payment tender are all at your fingertips just waiting to be focused into a cohesive and targeted customer loyalty program. Adding a CRM to your tech stack turns one-time payments into ongoing revenue.
Making mobile payments work for you
The restaurant industry has had a tough couple of years, but as a whole, it has weathered the storm. The secret? Using technology to help pivot operations toward a more sustainable future.
Unsure where to begin with your restaurant's own digital transformation? Let the experts at Mr Yum help you implement mobile payments and other key restaurant tech in your establishment. Contact us today to learn how to get started.