Hospitality & Catering 2018: throwing the till out the window

How to fully embrace technology innovation in 2018 and beyond.

In the second of two articles, we explore the key POS and technology payment trends in the hospitality and catering industry for the year ahead.

In our first article, we outlined what the hospitality and catering market are currently offering in terms of point-of-sale (POS) and the move toward a mobile-first strategy. However, the current strategy is a bolt-on approach, with traditional POS infrastructure and tills still in use, creating customer frustrations, like queueing, and a loss in ROI for operators.

It’s a relief then to know these on-premise POS models only have about three years of life left. We predict a move to a more diversified, holistic solution, where apps, terminals and kitchen management systems all operate on the same infrastructure, seamlessly. This will make it much easier to install updates and add new applications. It’s time to throw the tills out the window!

A holistic start to the New Year

For those operators looking to upgrade their systems in 2018, it’s important to take a holistic approach to their POS systems, enabling deployment of a single solution to solve the multiple challenges of today’s hospitality industry. That doesn’t have to mean replacing existing CRM, ERP and WMS systems. However, it does mean updating the way they interact with customers throughout their engagement – from attracting the customer, to the ordering and transaction process, loyalty programs and personalised messaging.

Customers expect technology to give them a completely seamless experience that helps them save time before, during and after their visits. A joined-up solution will bring every aspect of a customer’s interaction together, allowing for advance-ordering, payment with mobile devices and the instant distribution of loyalty rewards. Customers want to use their smartphones for everything from booking a table, to ordering, splitting the bill, and paying.

A piecemeal approach on the other hand, where an operator relies on a mixed-grill of old and new technologies that are not entirely synchronised, will mean customers only enjoy some benefits, with operators unable to achieve all the potential gains in efficiency, improved cash-flow or increased customer-loyalty and engagement.

POS trends in 2018

Over the coming year we will see a continuation in the decline of the traditional manned checkouts, alongside the steady demise of cash. It’s claimed that by 2021 UK retailers plan to eliminate queuing in their stores entirely and user numbers of the world’s biggest mobile payment brands are only set to grow. Omnico’s catering and food service research found that 41% of businesses would like to use cashless payments to reduce queues at the tills, and 44% believe the ability to pay without cash using a loyalty card or mobile app will improve canteen / food outlet footfall. However, in order to catch up with the world of retail and tech savvy customer expectations, hospitality brands must take the learnings from more advanced industries and embrace the opportunities presented by this fundamental technology shift.

Waitrose in the UK already offers customers handheld self-scanning devices that also track the shopper’s position in the store. The unmanned Amazon Go stores have taken this much further in exploiting smartphone and sensor technology for cashless operations. Elsewhere, Coop Denmark is using an Omnico-powered self-scan app in its stores, allowing customers to use their own mobile device to scan items as they select them, and avoid till queues altogether, paying by simply scanning their mobile device as they leave. China, for example, has overtaken the US to become the leading mobile payments country in the world, in terms of number of payments and their individual value. Alipay, WeChat and Android have just topped a list of “the most relevant brands in Chinese consumers’ lives.”

These are trends that are going to sweep right across the catering and hospitality sector – and brands need to be prepared, or run the risk of being overwhelmed, particularly as advanced smartphone-use rapidly becomes the norm.

Before you take up your New Year resolutions to throw the tills out the window, read further information on the various solutions and infrastructure available for the industry, or contact Omnico now to discuss it with one of our industry experts.

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