Hospitality & Catering 2017: Mobile POS comes of age

How the rise and rise in smartphones can increase sales and boost customer loyalty

In the first of two articles, we explore the key developments in hospitality and catering point-of-sale systems in 2017 and how the rise and rise of the smartphone presents a host of new opportunities

Over the course of the past year we’ve seen various developments and new technologies come to the point-of-sale (POS) market, impacted by not only political and economic factors, but by consumer trends and demands. Challenging factors include the increasing need for customised food, rising global middle-class populations and the growing use of mobile technologies. Together with the need to drive down food waste and enable ways to predict quantities of ingredients, it’s understandable that the industry has been looking for innovative new solutions.

Mobile first

Mobile has been a driving force for many industries, not surprising with close to 90% of consumers viewing their phones within an hour of waking up, with roughly 80% doing the same within an hour of going to sleep according to the Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey.

Hospitality and catering operators have started to move towards the use of tablets and smartphones to bring customers more rapid service that radically reduces queues. In Omnico research launched earlier this year, we found that 57% of respondents (from 153 companies in the contract catering and food services industry) believe that reducing queue wait times will improve canteen/food outlet footfall. 48% believe that offering the ability to pay using a mobile app, kiosk, or iPad to reduce queues will improve operational efficiencies.

Despite the industry understanding the positive benefits of these enhanced technologies, the industry has been slow to adopt them, with only 23% planning to implement mobile payment systems in the next three years, and 15% to implement mobile booking systems. This could be for a number of reasons, including reluctance to move away from embedded legacy systems, the cost associated with system upgrades or confusion as to which solution to invest in over another.

What many brands don’t understand is that there are solutions available to retain existing infrastructure and seamlessly plug in new solutions including mobile self-scan, order ahead and self-service kiosks.

Mobile is only phase one. To effectively deliver the 10-20% boost in revenue from mobile engagement predicted by Omnico’s research respondents, users must move away from operating solely from their existing traditional till infrastructures.

Death of the service till

Operators are facing the challenge of trying to extend the life of their existing POS estates, while needing to enable new technologies so that customers can interact directly with them via their mobile devices.

However, brands must understand that POS is no longer restricted to the traditional till point on the counter by the serviettes. Nor is it the point where customers queue to complete payment, a disappointing end to what otherwise could have been an enjoyable experience. Point-of-sale technology can now be a revenue-generating platform that opens new opportunities for increasing sales and building loyalty, eliminating queues and boosting customer experience, delivering a true return on investment.

The future is now

The more insightful caterers and hospitality brands are harnessing the huge growth in smartphone use to boost revenues through greater customer engagement, swifter service, reduced food waste and greater loyalty. By shifting to a mobile first approach operators will give themselves far more accurate predictions of demand (as consumers start using apps for advance-ordering, for example) resulting in substantial cost and time-savings. They can also free up servers to focus on food preparation and other activities with self-checkout and self-scan technologies. In addition the data about customer behaviour will be far more accurate and detailed, making personalisation of offers, messages and service achievable.

If mobile first is the here and now, then 2018 will bring a further revolution in how hospitality and catering operators harness the breadth of functionality available from POS and customer engagement solutions. Read the second part of this article from Omnico to understand future developments.

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