Your users in the retail or restaurant verticals who started their businesses more than five or ten years ago probably never thought they’d have to be experts in technology. In fact, most still don’t want to. But they do want the competitive advantages that a connected retail or restaurant environment can give them in areas including customer experiences, efficiency, and profitability.
Matt Dye, CPP, Director of Business Development for First American Payment Systems, observes, “It seems like everything is going to a true, value-added, electronic-age paradigm.” He says restaurant businesses want applications that handle the back office and interface with mobile payments, payment in advance, or payment on demand by scanning a QR code at the table. Restaurants also want to make it easier to engage their customers on social media. “The restaurant side is all about integration,” he says.
In retail, which has a head start over the restaurant industry on creating connected, omnichannel environments, he says the focus is on value-adds that provide customers with greater convenience and personalized service.
Technology that Saves Labor Costs
Recently back from Retail Solutions Provider Association (RSPA) RetailNOW 2019, Dye says some of the hottest items in the restaurant space are kiosks. With minimum wage increasing in several areas of the country, restaurants are choosing kiosks for ordering and payment rather than paying higher labor costs for workers at the counter.
He says controlling labor costs are also making kiosks a growing choice for retail stores such as liquor and hardware shops. Customers can order and pay online and check in at a kiosk to pick up their purchases. Dye says some retailers are using kiosks to manage layaways, allowing the customer to select an item from a showroom, set up recurring payments through ACH or payment card, and pick up the item when payment is complete.
Technology that Gives Owners Their Lives Back
Until recently, owners and managers didn’t have the capability to automate many aspects of their jobs. Solutions are now available that manage time and attendance and allow employees to participate in the scheduling process. Dye says scheduling tied to back-office reporting enables merchants to optimize schedules so the right number of employees are on hand to serve customers during high-volume times — but unneeded employees aren’t paid to be idle during slower shifts.
Businesses can also install cameras at a retail checkout or at a restaurant’s bar to ensure employees are following procedures, and all transactions are handled appropriately. If an owner finds a discrepancy, it’s easy to trace it back to the source. Business applications can also send alerts to the owner’s mobile device based on preset triggers or rules, and, with a few clicks, the owner can check on the business’ status.
“Restaurant or retail store owners have traditionally worked seven days per week,” says Dye. “With technology, they can go home. They can actually have a normal life for a change.”
Making it Work for Your Customers
Dye’s advice to ISVs is to give your users in the retail and restaurant verticals the ability to create the fully connected environments they need to operate profitably and to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. “Be as comprehensive as possible. If your customers want a particular function, develop, partner, or integrate to provide it,” he says.
He adds that choosing the right payments partner is an important piece of the puzzle: “With the SaaS model, technology continually evolves. With the right payments partner, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when something changes. It’s sustainable.”
The right payments partner will also provide the level of support you want your users to receive — and not treat them only like numbers in a system. Convergence in the payments industry has made consistent levels of support difficult for some ISV’s customers. “Support may not be the same after an acquisition,” Dye points out. “Find a payments company that grows by providing tailored, one-on-one service and support instead of through acquisition.”
It’s also essential to remember the big picture. Your customers in the retail and restaurant verticals aren’t tech experts. They are looking for solutions that will help them achieve their objectives and take them closer to a connected environment where they can operate more efficiently and provide seamless customer experiences on all channels. Do everything you can to make it happen.
To learn more about First American and its payment technology capabilities for the retail and restaurant industries, please visit https://www.first-american.net.