The in-venue stage of the customer journey – your customers’ experience from arrival to ordering and paying for their food – has irreversibly changed over the past 18 months, with digital solutions being placed centre stage. Most notable of these has been order and pay at table solutions, from apps to web ordering, which have now become second nature to many.
Whilst they may not be the preference of all, stats from Zonal and CGA’s GO Technology research programme show that in-venue order and pay apps are here to stay. Customers increasingly expect them, and they can also improve your operational efficiency too.
Restaurants and pubs are hoping for a busy autumn and winter of in-venue diners and drinkers. As Covid restrictions ease, customers may be eager to spend their lockdown savings on eating, drinking and socialising.
According to research by Lumina Intelligence, the UK market for eating out will grow by 33.4% in 2021 and will have exceeded pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022.
But, this isn’t a return to “the before times”. It’s clear that customers’ service expectations have changed, especially with regard to ordering and paying.
Some of us with a career in full-service hospitality may find it hard to imagine why customers could wish to sit in a restaurant and order on their phones. Why not interact with a human professional? As Zonal’s research shows, there are good reasons why people prefer their screens.
What’s more, embracing the preference can work to your advantage in more ways than simply giving customers what they want (always a good thing to do).
Let’s take a look.
3 reasons to offer in-venue order and payment apps.
While Covid-19 certainly accelerated uptake of the in-venue app or web-ordering experience, it’s a trend that’s been growing for several years and will continue to grow as customers pour back to your venue.
If you thought offering an app was just a stop-gap solution, think again.
1. Customers increasingly expect and value the app or web experience.
In Zonal’s research, two out of five people said that contactless ordering and payment was more important to them than 12 months ago.
Why? Half say it’s because of convenience and nearly half (47%) say it’s about ease of payment.
That’s not surprising when respondents also say that their top three frustrations when ordering in pubs, bars or restaurants are:
- struggling to get servers’ attention (cited by 30%)
- Items not being available (22%)
- Being rushed to place an order (18%).
With a mobile app or web-ordering solution, customers can choose from an up-to-date menu at their convenience.
2. In-venue apps reduce unprofitable dwell-time.
Time spent waiting for a server – either to place an order, or to ask for the bill and pay – is frustrating for customers and could be unprofitable for your operation.
What’s more, last impressions count. The final minutes of any experience have a disproportionate effect on our overall memory, so billing and payment are important steps to get right.
The Zonal report shows that customers’ two top priorities at the end of a visit are:
- Being able to pay immediately, and
- Having a wide choice of payment options.
Their top frustrations at this stage, alongside the automatic addition of a service charge (cited by 18%), include:
- An incorrect bill (14%)
- Struggling to get a server’s attention (14%)
- Having to wait to get their bill (11%).
Again, it is clear how an order and payment solution can help – enabling the customer to receive and settle an accurate bill (no room for human error) as soon as they’re ready to go.
And, as the world is increasingly cashless and contactless, a mobile-based solution opens the way to offer a wide range of payment options including cards, the PayPal wallet, Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Offering digital payment solutions can also make it simpler for guests to divide and settle bills between themselves.
3. Free your valuable staff to focus on other tasks.
What about the human touch? What about professional service? Providing an in-venue order and payment solution is not about removing the human element. It’s about making the most of your valuable staff.
Unsurprisingly, more than half of customers (51%) prefer to be welcomed in person and a third say that friendly and helpful service is the most important aspect of placing orders.
But, in an environment where the hospitality sector faces recruitment challenges and staff shortages, it makes sense to place your people where they can be of greatest value and to support them with the information that digital solutions can provide.
Remember to add PayPal
Offering customers an excellent, on-mobile, in-venue ordering and payment solution can help bring clear benefits to your customers and your operations.
As you design or enhance your app, remember to include PayPal as a payment option. Zonal’s research shows that consumers rank a wide choice of payment options as being one of the most important aspects of settling bills and PayPal, with over 400 million customers worldwide, is widely trusted as a payment method both online and in person.
With PayPal, customers can pay how they please – by credit or debit card, using their PayPal account, or with increasingly popular alternative payment methods.
What’s more, PayPal makes it simple for guests to transfer money to each other to simplify bill-splitting and sharing using their account.
In fact, across the entertainment & leisure and food sectors, PayPal users are more likely to have a favourable online experience than non-PayPal users.
Customer satisfaction is also strong with PayPal. Net Promoter Scores (NPS) in the entertainment & leisure sector are four points higher when paying with PayPal.
PayPal’s advanced fraud protection technology also helps to protect venues by minimising fraudulent payments.
To read more about how PayPal could support your hospitality operations, visit enterprise.
PayPal has remained at the forefront of the digital payment revolution for more than 20 years. PayPal allows any business or individual with an email address to securely, conveniently and cost-effectively send and receive payments online. Our network builds on the existing financial infrastructure of bank accounts and credit cards to create a global, real-time payment solution. By leveraging technology to make financial services and commerce more convenient, affordable, and secure, the PayPal platform is empowering more than 400 million consumers and merchants in more than 200 markets to join and thrive in the global economy.
For more information, visit our website.