Q&A: The future of mobile ordering and payments

This Q&A article with Zonal’s product delivery manager Matt Brooks on how the pandemic has changed the industry’s view on mobile ordering and payment technology first appeared in Big Hospitality on the 3rd Feb 2021.


The pandemic has given mobile ordering and payment a real shot in the arm, so to speak…​

Even prior to the pandemic it felt as if the industry was reaching a tipping point in terms of adopting digital order and pay products, but lockdown has undoubtedly accelerated this. Zonal has been at the forefront of such technology for many years but over the last 12 months we’ve seen a 500% increase in the take up of our order and pay solutions.

What would you say to operators that are still on the fence about the technology?​

There is now a real danger for any operator left behind, as shown in our recently published GO Technology report. In a survey for the report 34% of consumers told us they would be more likely to choose a venue with order and pay technology and 40% feel safer in venues that use it. The report also found that three quarters of consumers are satisfied, or very satisfied, with the ease of digital ordering and payment and satisfaction levels are similarly high for ease of set-up and user-friendliness.

How big do you see mobile order and payments getting?​

We believe order and pay will become not just standard but something people expect. Suddenly removing it so consumers find themselves having to queue at the bar again will result in frustration. And any operators still concerned that order and pay technology could detract from the guest experience by limiting interaction with team members, should bear in mind that a properly thought-out solution will give staff more time to have meaningful interactions with guests.

What are the benefits for operators?​

Of course, order and pay technology doesn’t just benefit consumers. There are significant advantages for operators too – and those benefits are especially pronounced where systems can be integrated. The Zonal platform for example, is integrated to our POS in real-time, and powers our order and pay, click and collect, and loyalty white label apps, as well as our more recently developed browser-based ordering system. And it handles integration with third parties too, including the major delivery players, including Deliveroo and UberEats.

What are the benefits of a fully-centralised system?​

Everything is managed in one place, meaning operators can easily see orders, manage menus and pricing in real-time across multiple platforms and from multiple channels – including different delivery partners. There’s no double keying needed, saving a significant amount of time and removing the risk of human error.

Any examples?​

Take digital menus. Operators have reported that one of the major advantages of these over analogue menus is dynamic pricing – the ability to change prices according to the day of the week or time. A digital menu can also be set to automatically suggest add-ons and upgrades, perhaps offering people a side or the option to switch normal fries for sweet potato fries. Traditionally, operators have had to rely on staff to remember to do this but those using our system have found that automating the process yields great results for the bottom line.

What’s coming down the track that might shake things up?​

This area of technology is a fast-moving space. One thing to look out for over the coming months is the rollout of Apple’s App Clips. These are essentially mini versions of apps that don’t take up much space and – crucially – appear the moment a customer needs them. This is an area Zonal is looking at, as it offers the best of both worlds –  a native experience that’s as quick as using a mobile website. App Clips are also the gateway to customers downloading the full app with additional functionality, such as loyalty features.

Where does Zonal stand on the app versus browser-based order and pay debate?​

At Zonal we offer both solutions so it’s an and/or for us rather than versus. The beauty of technology today is that it can be on whatever platform the customer wants to use it on. The main advantage of apps is that they tend to be quicker, slicker and have the potential to offer more functionality, while browser-based solutions are instant and don’t require a download or a smartphone.

Any other predictions for mobile ordering and payments?​

Increasingly, we’re going to see hospitality businesses borrow from the playbooks of the likes of Amazon and Netflix to drive profitability. Personalisation is going to be key, but a balance does need to be struck between offering the customer the same thing over and over again and encouraging them to try new things. Ultimately, every restaurant and pub will use technology slightly differently but there’s always a way that it can improve operations for the business and the experience for the customer.

Download our latest research: Order and Pay Technology in the COVID-era

COVID-19 has put technology in the centre of the consumer journey and hospitality’s safety precautions, our GO Technology report reveals how consumers have reacted to this change.

Download Now

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