7 Ways To Increase E-commerce Sales

“Electronic commerce”, “ecommerce”, “e-commerce, Ecommerce”—no matter how you spell it, conducting business online has become the norm for consumers and businesses alike. In fact, if there were a word of the year in 2020 when it comes to commerce, it would likely be “ecommerce.”

In the accelerated shift to digital, ecommerce sales worldwide jumped to nearly $4.29 trillion last year, representing a 24.1% increase from 2019. And 2021 isn’t slowing down. Statista reports that an estimated 2.14 billion people will buy their goods and services online this year.

Despite this significant increase in consumers buying online, most are abandoning their shopping cart at checkout. According to the Baymard Institute’s latest assessment, the average shopping cart abandonment rate on ecommerce sites is 69.8%. A large portion of these shoppers are “just browsing” and not ready to buy, but of those that are ready to hit “submit,” they ended up exiting for easy-to-fix reasons.

  • 18% of online shoppers experienced a long and complicated checkout process
  • 17% didn’t trust the site with their card information
  • 7% said the company didn’t offer enough payment methods

You can greatly increase your chances of converting consumers from browsers to buyers–and increase ecommerce sales—with these seven simple payment optimization strategies.

1. Accept a variety of payment methods and currencies

Methods of payment are diversifying and your customers are using them all. Credit and debit cards are still popular, but alternative payment methods like PayPal, WeChat Pay, and Alipay are on the rise. And don’t forget about gift cards and loyalty points as payment options as well.

In fact, Gen Z–those born between 1996 and 2010–are using digital methods of payment far more than other generations. A study from ContentSquare, which analyzed over 8 million user sessions, found that Gen Z converts via mobile twice as much as other generations. Therefore, if you don’t offer mobile wallet payment options, you’re less likely to make the sale among a large portion of online shoppers.

2. Think cross-border

When you’re looking at online payments, don’t forget to think globally. Your ecommerce business probably already attracts customers from outside of your own market. But there could be a disconnect if you’re not offering their local payment methods and currencies. Doing so expands your market–and revenue potential–immediately. We live in a globalized world where your customers are doing business across borders, not just where you are locally-based. Accepting many forms of payment as well as currencies will help you reach even more customers.

3. Offer favorable purchasing terms

It’s not a “one-size-fits-all” world. And your payment options shouldn’t be either. Do you sell:

  • Large ticket items?
  • Frequently-purchased items?
  • Shareable items?

Deferred billing, recurring billing, and installment payments are options to consider offering to your customers in situations such as these. Did you know that over one-third of consumers between the ages of 18-37 say that installment payments have influenced their decision to make a purchase, according to 451 Research’s Q2 2020 Voice of the Connected User Landscape survey?

Think about what favorable purchasing options you can offer to your customers to let them pay their way, and provide them that option in your online checkout.

4. Streamline the checkout process

Have you ever had to fill out both the ship-to and billing address fields, even when they are the exact same? Businesses that can auto-fill these fields or, even better, provide a one-click checkout process create an optimized shopping experience, increasing the likelihood of repeat business. Having this payment convenience, often called card storage, makes it easier for consumers to come back again for a checkout experience that is fast and easy. The result? Increased revenue potential and a great customer experience.

5. Ensure Accuracy

It’s bound to happen; in fact, more frequently than you may think. Your customers’ payment details will change, which can insert friction into the payment process. When expiration dates pass, customers must then update card details stored from previous transactions, slowing the checkout process. Changing payment details can also interrupt any automated payments customers have previously set up with you. To prevent this from happening, we advise our customers to take advantage of card updater services which automatically refresh your customers’ account information when it changes. Having this payment service in place means there’s no disruption to the checkout process–or to their on-going service–reinforcing a seamless customer experience and allowing you to get paid on time.

6. Deliver a seamless, branded experience

It’s proven that the less friction you have in your checkout process, the better your checkout conversion rate will be. It used to be the case that when merchants hosted their payment gateway with a third-party, customers making a purchase would be redirected to another webpage owned by the payment processor to accept their card information. This was an obvious disruption to the seamless customer experience, hindering sales. That was then.

Now you can create a cohesive brand experience throughout the checkout process. Make sure your logo is marked on each page and that your brand colors and design elements are a part of the payment experience as well. This will give your customers confidence that they are buying from you, a trusted business.

7. Analyze to optimize ecommerce sales

All of these front-end payment strategies can lead to improved customer experiences and more revenue for your business. But don’t forget about the wealth of valuable information you have at your fingertips on the back-end. Reporting tools provide important insights to help you optimize checkout conversion. Imagine knowing the reasons behind declined transactions, chargebacks, and disputes. You can use this intelligence to optimize your business. You can also analyze sales trends to better plan for any number of situations like seasonal boosts. Data is power and these are the KPIs to help you manage and grow your business.

With these tips, you’re bound to lower your online shopping cart abandonment rate, increase ecommerce sales, and create a scalable online payments strategy this year and beyond. Contact us to start optimizing your ecommerce business today.

Article written by: https://www.globalpayments.com/insights/2019/07/15/online-payments-to-scale-your-business

How to find the best POS system for your small business

Written by: https://www.globalpayments.com/insights/2021/06/01/how-to-find-the-best-pos-system-for-your-small-business

Accepting payments is part of doing business.

But how do you choose the best point-of-sale (POS) system for your small business?

Ideally, it will be the one that not only fits your immediate needs but will also grow with you. One that will help you deliver the best experience for your customers.

Evaluate your business needs

The first step in selecting the right POS solution for your business is fully evaluating your needs. Why? Because a full-featured POS system can help you with much more than just getting paid.

In fact, the best POS system will give you a mix of point-of-sale and payment acceptance capabilities, paired with customer relationship management and reporting tools. Having the right solution in place—whether you’re running a retail shop, restaurant, or service operation—makes all the difference.

So, think about what resources would help you run your business more efficiently.

For example, are you managing your inventory manually? How well do you understand your employee productivity? Do you know what days and hours are your busiest?

These are the types of insights a full-featured POS system can give you.

  • Inventory management saves you from the hassle of manually checking your inventory on a weekly basis. Having a real-time view of your inventory levels helps you stay on top of your stock and manage expenses while preventing a lost sale because you didn’t have a specific item on hand.
  • Employee management includes managing timesheets and tracking attendance for your entire staff. Having that kind of data at your fingertips will help you make more informed decisions about your day-to-day staffing needs.
  • Simplified accounting tools help you set up, track, and manage sales tax on transactions and make filing easier at the end of the year.
  • Customer relationship management is an essential step in growing your business. With tools that help you retain your customer information, you can build out your marketing programs.

Of course, all of these features power your business back-office. But the best POS system should manage your sales and payment data—so you can better understand your business’s performance.

Evaluate your customer needs

Any business decision you make should always consider the impact it will have on your customers. What do they need from you? How can you make sure you’re keeping up with their expectations? How can you keep the sales transaction as seamless and secure as possible?

As much of your in-person customer interaction revolves around payments, a streamlined checkout process keeps the line moving—which is a win-win for you and your customers.

At this point, contactless payment technology is a must-have as more customers adopt digital wallets and wearables. The best POS system will support this preference, along with other popular payment methods: cash, credit, debit, and EBT.

Together, these front- and back-office features and functionalities help simplify running your business, and provide the check out experience for your customers that can be a game-changer for your business—especially when your POS can operate on multiple types of terminal devices.

Select the right POS terminal

With the needs of your business and your customers in mind, you can now make a more informed decision as to which POS terminal suits your unique needs.

If your business is on the go, a mobile POS with a simple card reader and an app could be the best fit. It’s the simplest, most cost-effective solution for the solopreneur.

Alternatively, a compact terminal also works as a flexible, connective solution that already has the POS built in. It also allows for choice to pay-at-the-counter, pay-at-the-table, or pay-in-the-field.

On the other hand, portability might not be your primary need. If you have physical space or multiple business locations, you might opt for a standalone register, or even a mix of terminal solutions—registers, compact terminals, and mobile POS all working together.

No matter where your search for the right terminal solution leads you, having it included as part of a cloud-based POS system will keep everything connected, simplify payments, and handle your back office needs. Ultimately, the best

POS system is one that will grow with you, and provides a seamless experience for you and for your customers.

Everything You Need to Know about Non-Operating Expenses

Running a small business requires consistent monitoring of day-to-day operations. Understandably, the business owner maintains a strong focus on revenue generation. The owner also keeps an eye on the expenses related to bringing in that income. The term “operating expenses” applies to these business operations costs.

However, “non-operating expenses” also factor into the company’s bottom line. Because these costs don’t figure into the company’s operating profit, it’s easy to overlook them.

It’s important to integrate non-operating expenses into the business’ accounting framework and financial statements. Then, the owner can obtain a more accurate picture of the company’s financial health.

What are non-operating expenses?

Non-operating expenses are costs that don’t directly pertain to the company’s core business operations. Monthly expenses such as debt interest payments are considered non-operating expenses. In addition, one-time costs such as currency exchange expenses and fire damage cleanup are non-operating expenses.

Examples of non-operating expenses

Businesses in different industries may vary in their types of non-operating expenses. A company’s size and type may also factor into the equation. With that said, certain types of non-operating expenses are common to many businesses.

These are examples of non-operating expenses:

  • Business Relocation Expenses
  • Business Restructuring Expenses
  • Depreciation Expenses
  • Expenses from Lawsuit Settlements
  • Expenses from Weather Damage
  • Fire Damage Expenses
  • Interest Expense (or Interest Payments)
  • Inventory or Receivables Write-Downs
  • Investment Losses
  • Losses on Sale of Assets
  • Obsolete Inventory Charges
  • Preliminary Expenses Amortization
  • Write-Offs of Intangible Assets

How do non-operating expenses differ from operating expenses?

Operating expenses (or operating costs) are those costs incurred in the course of everyday business activities. Rent, utilities, building repairs and maintenance, and office supplies are examples of costs related to operating activities. In the case of an income-producing property, for example, real estate taxes would classify as an operating expense. Bookkeeping entries should reflect this expense.

A company’s income statement will take operating expenses into account when measuring the business’ profitability. The business’ earnings before calculated interest and taxes (EBIT) also help to indicate the firm’s profitability. The income statement will also incorporate the company’s operating revenues.

On the business’ profit and loss statement, operating expenses appear directly beneath the Cost of Goods Sold (or COGS). The result is the gross profit on the company’s sales (or revenues)

In contrast, non-operating expenses aren’t directly connected to regular business operations. Rather, these costs relate to peripheral business activities, and may only be one-time costs. These expenses should be taken into account along with non-operating income.

Both types of expenses can be fixed, which means they’re not affected by production volume or service delivery alterations. Or, operating expenses and non-operating expenses can vary according to production or service delivery fluctuations.

What are some benefits of recording non-operating expenses?

A business should consider its non-operating expenses for a given period. Expense management and transparency are major underlying factors here.

  • A company’s accountant should show operating expenses and non-operating expenses separately in the firm’s income statement. The result enables financial analysts to better gauge the core business operations’ performance for a specific period of time.
  • It’s fairly easy to reduce a company’s non-operating expenses, as they don’t have a direct relationship to the company’s core business operations. In contrast, cutting down on operations-related expenses is considerably more difficult.
  • Consistent disclosure of a business’ non-operating expenses signals the company’s willingness to be transparent about its operations. Internal partners (such as employees) and external partners (such as investors) will look favorably on this transparency.

Do non-operating expenses have any potential risks?

Factoring non-operating expenses into company financial statements has three potential downsides. The business owner should discuss these issues with the company’s Certified Public Accountant (CPA) before moving forward.

  • There aren’t any well-defined criteria for separating operating expenses from non-operating expenses. This can lead to confusion and accounting misapplications.
  • One company can regard a specific expense as a non-operating expense. Another company may consider the same cost an operating expense.
  • Accountants can rename an operating expense as a non-operating expense. This would help to increase the net income from the core business operations. Generally accepted accounting principles (or GAAP) should provide guidance in this situation.

How to calculate non-operating expenses on your income statement

A company’s income statement (also called a profit and loss statement) reports the amount of revenue earned during a defined time period. Generally, income statements cover one full year or some part of the year. In addition, the income statement details the expenses linked to the generated revenue.

Operations-related revenues and expenses are grouped together toward the top of the income statement. Below those operating results, you’ll find non-operations revenues and their associated costs.

By using this logical breakout, financial analysts can better state the company’s operations performance. Income statement information may be useful when determining the company’s income taxes owed.

Other relevant financial statements

The United States Security and Exchange Commission lists three other relevant financial statements. Collectively, they provide a comprehensive picture of a company’s financial situation.

It’s important to make decisions after analyzing all three statements together. Business owners should work closely with their Certified Public Accountant to make the choice that will best benefit their business.

Balance Sheet

A balance sheet provides fixed-period information regarding a company’s assets and liabilities. Next, a balance sheet also includes the Statement of Shareholders’ Equity. This statement details the rises and falls in the shareholders’ interests during a defined time period.

Cash Flow Statement

This aptly described statement shows the cash flows in and out of the business. Maintaining sufficient cash on hand is important. A company must be able to pay its ongoing expenses and obtain assets (such as equipment and supplies) as needed.

Always stay on top of your expenses

Only 40 percent of small businesses actually make a profit, states Small Biz Genius. To move in a profitable direction, business owners should understand the role of non-operating expenses in their company’s financial cycles. With that knowledge, they can better track the expenses’ impacts on the company’s short- and long-term financial performance.

If you’re looking to lower your expenses, it’s a good idea to look into your credit card processing fees. Payment processing costs businesses hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a month so cutting this expense can result in major savings.

Blog post credit: https://paymentdepot.com/blog/non-operating-expenses/

By Francesca Nicasio

How to Track Business Expenses: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Making your small business profitable requires a constant balancing act. On one hand, you must focus on generating sales through your brick-and-mortar store, service business, or ecommerce platform. At the same time, you must also manage your expenses efficiently so that your business is profitable.

Accounting software provider FreshBooks notes that insufficient cash is a major cause of business failure. To avoid that unpleasant outcome, you need to aggressively focus on maximizing your income while consistently tracking business expenses.

If you’re just starting out, business expense tracking can seem to be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this practical guide that covers everything you need to know about business expenses and how to track them. Let’s take a look.

Definition of business expenses

The term “business expenses” aptly describes those costs that arise during ordinary business operations. This description applies to small businesses and large corporations alike.

For accounting purposes, business expenses appear on a company’s income statement. When business expenses are deducted from revenue, the result is the company’s taxable net income. Following are some common examples of business expenses:

  • Advertising and marketing
  • Bank charges
  • Consultation costs
  • Employee benefits
  • Equipment
  • Fees and subscriptions
  • Insurance
  • Labor
  • Office Supplies
  • Rental expenses
  • Utilities (electricity, phone, and internet)

Which expenses are tax-deductible?

If a business is in operation to generate a profit, a portion of the company’s expenses will be tax-deductible. When you claim a deductible expense, your taxable income is lowered, so you’ll pay less in taxes. However, it’s important to know which business expenses are fully tax-deductible or partially tax-deductible, and which aren’t eligible for deductions. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a deductible business expense must be “ordinary and necessary.” Ordinary expenses are costs that are common to your trade or type of business. Necessary expenses are costs that are appropriate for the operation of that trade or business.

Fully tax-deductible expenses

  • Advertising
  • Business-related licensing fees
  • Contract labor
  • Electronics and software
  • Employee wages
  • Insurance
  • Mileage (at standard mileage rate)
  • Office fixtures and furniture
  • Office supplies
  • Professional and legal fees
  • Research and development costs
  • Rental expenses
  • Travel expenses (doesn’t include daily commuting costs)
  • Utilities

Partially tax-deductible expenses

  • Business meals
  • Vehicle expenses (based on a formula)
  • Home office expenses (based on a formula)

Non-deductible expenses

  • Business startup costs
  • Business assets (also called capital assets)
  • Sales tax
  • Property improvements

Why should you track business expenses?

Every company benefits from consistently tracking business expenses. However, it’s especially important for budget-conscious freelancers and self-employed small business owners.

Regularly monitoring income and expenses enables you to obtain updated information about your business operations. Specifically, you’ll get a real-time snapshot of your purchases and other expenditures during a specific period. If you decide it’s necessary to decrease expenses, you’ll have a good baseline for those reductions.

Looking at the bigger picture, good expense records and financial reports can provide a picture of the financial health of your business. Based on that information, you can identify areas for improvement and/or growth.

How to easily track business expenses

Making a commitment to track business expenses means changing the way you approach your company’s operations. By putting a few key components in place, you’ll get a better picture of your finances and business profitability.

1. Set up a business bank account

It’s important to keep your business expenses and personal expenses separate. By taking that essential step, your business can stand as a distinct entity that’s separate from your personal finances.

Keeping a solvent business bank account will help to establish business credit, an advantage when applying for a business loan. In addition, your personal assets will be protected if an audit, lawsuit, or bankruptcy arises.

Opening a business bank account is simple and fast. Ideally, open this small business account at your current banking institution. This makes it easy to transfer funds from your personal checking account if necessary. Deposit all your business income into your business checking account.

Note that sole proprietors are not required to open a business bank account. However, business owners who form a limited liability company (LLC), partnership, or corporation must open a business account.

Company credit card

Your business bank account will likely come with a business credit card. By exclusively making business-related purchases with this card, you can easily track your business expenses. This is especially important when you’re preparing your records for tax season.

2. Choose an accounting method

For your accounting method, you can choose from two business accounting system models. Each system works best for specific types of businesses.

Cash accounting method

A cash accounting system is a good option for sole proprietors, freelancers, and very small businesses. Using this model, you’ll record income when you receive it. When you make a payment to a vendor or service provider, you immediately record it.

Accrual accounting method

An accrual accounting system is a better fit for businesses with employees, expanding businesses, and larger companies. Using this system, you record income when you sell a product, rather than when you receive payment for the sale.

So, when you receive a bill from a vendor or service provider, you immediately record that invoice. You don’t wait until you pay the bill to record that item.

3. Use expense trackers or receipt apps

Come tax time, you don’t want to be frantically gathering paper receipts before your appointment with your business accountant. To end this outdated (and maddening) practice, get an expense tracker app that will get your receipts under control.This handy electronic tool is also called a receipt app, and it’s simple to use. So, when you purchase office supplies, for example, all you need to do is to take a photo of the receipt with your smartphone. Then, upload the transaction through the expense tracker app or via a text message. You’ll have an electronic record that won’t fade or become the victim of a coffee spill.

4. Choose your accounting tools

Time-saving electronic reporting tools can make laborious expense report compilation a thing of the past. However, a 2019 industry study found that 43 percent of companies still manually process their expense reports. Even worse, only 27 percent of these businesses have an in-place method of catching “red flag” expenses.

The report surveyed nearly 600 financial professionals from different company sizes and types. Almost half of the respondents worked as accountants, managers, or controllers.

Surprisingly, the companies that continue to manually generate their expense reports don’t plan to add a targeted expense management program to the mix. In fact, these businesses say that their current systems “work well enough.” This statement seemingly dismisses the high processing costs and looming audit risks associated with manually compiled reports.

Accounting software is the gold standard for tracking business expenses. In certain situations, however, spreadsheet software can adequately serve your needs.

Spreadsheet-based tracking tools

Maybe you’ve just started your business, and have limited expenses. Or, your business is currently an extension of a favorite hobby. In these cases, manually entering a few expenses on a spreadsheet may work. When you begin to incur more expenses, however, it’s better to switch to a full-service accounting software program.

Or, let’s say you’re an Excel expert with a talent for custom spreadsheets. In that case, you’ll probably be able to create an expense tracking template that meets your needs.

  • Excel spreadsheets – Microsoft Excel is a popular spreadsheet software program that organizes and stores electronic data. A competent user can easily manipulate the data and execute mathematical functions. Excel also lends itself well to custom spreadsheets.
  • Google Sheets – This cloud-based spreadsheet program is appropriate for personal or business use. The business version features collaborative features. Google Sheets also sync with external systems such as Microsoft Office (including Excel).

Small business accounting software

Sometimes, even the most skilled spreadsheet user will find it awkward to use that format to track expenses. When you reach that point, invest in a high-quality accounting software program that will perform that (and other) functions for your business.

Use your accounting software program to generate regular profit-and-loss statements. These handy reports will help you to gauge the financial health of your business. The reports may also provide data needed for your business tax returns.

A good accounting software program can generate accounts payable and accounts receivable reports. The software can also track invoicing functions, giving you a real-time look at outstanding bills that represent income to your business.

When should you opt for accounting software?

If any of the following scenarios apply, switch to a full-featured accounting software program. Purchase costs are generally reasonable, and you’ll gain invaluable peace of mind in the process.

1. Several business bank accounts

Let’s say you have bank accounts at multiple financial institutions. You may find it very difficult (and increase the chances of errors) by attempting to track expenses for your different accounts.

2. Business owner travel expenses

As a proactive business owner, you might need to visit your customers or vendors regularly. If so, collecting endless expense receipts is an inefficient method of tracking expenses.

3. Multiple employees’ travel expenses

Maybe several of your employees need to travel on a regular basis. In this case, it’s not realistic to track their business expenses via a spreadsheet.

4. Current or projected business growth

Perhaps your business is (or soon will be) in a growth phase. If that’s the case, manually entering expenses on a spreadsheet will soon become painfully inadequate.

How to choose the right accounting software package

When shopping for accounting software, consider whether it’s compatible with your existing financial tools. Ideally, you should be able to sync your accounting program with your business bank account. You should also be able to add credit card and debit card accounts along with receipt apps.

A good accounting program will also handle employee expense reimbursements. These after-the-fact expenses are difficult to track on a spreadsheet. However, the accounting program will quickly process them and provide real-time account updates.

The accounting software package should also include a mobile app that helps you to easily track expenses. Following is an overview of three well-known accounting software programs.

QuickBooks Online

Small businesses and their bookkeeping and tax professionals most often choose Intuit’s QuickBooks Online accounting software. This full-service program offers numerous accounting features. Online training resources and user forums can provide ongoing support.

FreshBooks

This well-known accounting package caters to service-based businesses with often-complex invoicing needs. The program also provides functionality for proposals, client retainers, time tracking, and client payments. Finally, FreshBooks can handle a company’s basic bookkeeping requirements.

Expensify

This cloud-based business accounting package enables access from any internet-enabled location. Expensify manages financial transactions and business expenses via real-time data processing. This accounting software works with iOS (iPhone) and Android devices.

Professional bookkeeper

If you’d rather not track expenses yourself, you can hire a professional bookkeeper to perform this function. Every month, they’ll spend a few hours importing your receipts and invoices into the proper accounting functions. And, remember that good records are necessary for making business-related tax deductions.

Expense monitoring and analysis

A spreadsheet full of random line-item business costs is an inefficient expense tracking method. To streamline your expense management, separate your purchases into common expense categories.

By sending each purchase record to its proper folder, it will be easier to monitor business expenses and identify areas of concern. Correctly reported expenditures also facilitate accurate financial report generation.

Expense reports and other financial reports provide a useful snapshot of your business’ fiscal health. Your accounting software program allows you to specify a report’s date range and generate the report from your computer or mobile device.

Final Thoughts

Tracking your expenses is an integral part of running a business. Start with setting up a business account and credit card, keep track of your receipts, and choose an accounting tool that suits your business needs. Once you’re able to track your expenses efficiently, you’ll be able to determine how to optimize them as well.

For example, one of the best ways to optimize your business expenses is to reduce your credit card processing fees. Over time, you’ll become a better money manager, and your business cash flow should gradually improve. Then, your company will be ideally positioned for continued business growth.

Payment Depot offers wholesale credit card processing rates that can potentially save your business $400 in expenses every month. To learn more about our services and benefits, get in touch with us today!

Blog post credit: https://paymentdepot.com/blog/how-to-track-business-expenses/

By Francesca Nicasio

8 Ways Restaurant Technology Helps Operators Prepare for the Future

“Daniel,” a French fine-dining restaurant on New York’s Upper East Side, shut down in March due to COVID-19. Suddenly, Daniel Boulud, its owner and chef, had no customers.

Yet Boulud, who as an immigrant from France built an empire of 18 restaurants and bars worldwide, is no stranger to unearthing business opportunities. To quickly make a shift for the new commerce landscape, he opened Daniel Boulud Kitchen, a delivery service with menus that change by the week via an online delivery and carryout platform.

Among the items on its menu one week: a Sunday brunch for four, designed to be eaten al fresco, available for pickup. For delivery, there was a bouillabaisse for up to six, to be prepared in the home, and a three course pre-fixe menu.

Boulud’s pivot to reach his market shows how some restaurateurs have faced new circumstances with remarkable resilience and innovation, as they reconfigure their businesses for different rules of engagement with customers, which feature more social distancing and less (or no) contact, and an increased reliance on digital solutions.

With the need for more digital engagement, operators have accelerated their reliance on restaurant technology, such as upgrading to systems for online ordering, delivery tracking and messaging capabilities, email communication about offers and promotions and accepting contactless digital payments via mobile wallets and QR codes.

“In response to the changed environment, the first thing restaurants are doing is purchasing a digital point of sale,” says Andre Nataf, Senior Vice President of Point of Sale at Global Payments company Heartland. “In addition to accepting digital transactions, they need to have tools to engage with customers, such as email marketing capabilities, loyalty programs and a robust website presence.”

As part of this digital shift, the use of contactless payments has accelerated given how customers no longer have to touch a terminal, which also extends to signatures that are no longer required in many cases.

Additionally, delivery and pickup has now replaced much of the face-to-face business, as operators reconfigure parking lots and reduce tables inside and out.

The new reality for restaurants

Even with restaurants having reopened to a degree, they face strong headwinds. Generally speaking, since stay-at-home orders have been in place, restaurant spending has declined almost universally.

Curbside pickup was the only channel to fare better in the four weeks following the shutdown compared with before the onset of the coronavirus global health crisis. About 39% of all consumers said they used curbside pickup after the crisis hit, up from 28% beforehand, according to a nationwide survey of 1,000 consumers by Global Payments Enterprise restaurant solution Xenial.

Companies best positioned for the crisis are those that focus on delivery and contactless. For example, sales for Dominos, which is entirely delivery or takeout, were up 14% for an eight-week period that ended May 17.

Pizzaville, a quick-service restaurant franchise with presence across Canada, had in-app and online ordering solutions in place that allowed it to offer both contactless delivery and contactless pickup options. Because customers had the option to prepay, Pizzaville has noticed a surge of in-app and online usage. This has allowed the chain of 75 locations to remain a trusted option for their customers who want to order take-out, but who also want to limit unnecessary personal interactions.

If restaurants are flexible to whatever comes their way, it might be the difference between survival and failure because they have the ability to adapt. -Andre Nataf, senior vice president of point of sale at Heartland, a Global Payments companyTweet Quote

Innovation via digital means

The numbers show consumer preferences have shifted in a big way. Restaurants must rethink the way they do business, implement ways to reach more customers, and create a socially safe dining experience, all of which can be facilitated by advanced restaurant technology.

And the good news is, when people feel safe, they will likely come back: 70% of consumers said eating at a restaurant will help them feel normal again, according to Xenial’s survey. Yet when they do arrive, they will be much more wary and demanding in terms of perception of safety, cleanliness and overall quality.

Here are eight key ways restaurant technology can help build trust and loyalty through safe commerce:

Digital ordering. Digital systems allow for mobile and online ordering from anywhere. Customers can create an order, reserve a table and pay for the service from mobile apps and devices. For pickup and delivery, it minimizes interactions between restaurant staff and delivery-service drivers.

Touchless payments integration. For payment solutions that aren’t contactless, restaurants can take advantage of QR codes on digital menu boards in the drive-thru or printed on the receipt in the restaurant. From there, customers can order and pay using their mobile phone, via Apple Pay or Google Wallet. We found that about 44% of consumers are willing to tap to pay, up from 29% before the pandemic at the time of our survey.

Digitally-powered inventory. Digital systems allow for control of menus with a click or a tap – even for restaurants with multiple locations. Any alterations in prices or food items get reflected instantly on digital ordering interfaces or the screen at the point of sale.

Agility in the cloud. Cloud-based platforms can help restaurants be more agile for any situation — during a pandemic or otherwise. These platforms streamline a variety of tasks, including food ordering, digital menus, drive-thru management, kitchen management and more. They also help with customer intelligence and social media reputation management by centralizing reporting and analytics functions to gain deeper insights into customer behavior. With these tools and insights at a restaurant’s disposal, they can make the necessary shifts to react to customer expectations quickly.

Guest list management. Digital POS systems make it easy for restaurants to manage a wait list and tables. Customers can receive texts when their table is ready, and can place their orders while waiting.

UV-C light cleaning. POS devices and kiosks can also use ultraviolet light to kill or inactivate 99% of microorganisms. The technology can be added to existing screens, and has the ability to monitor surfaces for when they’ve been cleaned, requiring no staff intervention.

Low-contact tips. Cloud-based processing of tips allows employees to receive their tips on a prepaid card and reduces the handling of physical cash. Tipping software like Netspend’s Tip Network™ can integrate with restaurant POS systems, allowing managers to allocate tips to multiple employees, and pay tip-outs digitally after each shift.

Artificial intelligence. AI will become an increasingly vital part of restaurant efficiency. For those that opt-in, AI can create a more seamless and personalized experience. Smart menu boards with AI can recognize mobile devices, bringing greater speed to order fulfillment.

Large restaurant chains are already seeing the value in this technology. As one example, last year, McDonald’s bought Dynamic Yield, an Israeli-based startup, for $300 million. The platform allows the menu board to make personalized suggestions to customers based on their order history and popular items at a given location. The restaurant chain noted in its first quarter earnings call that the platform was boosting operating results, giving customers more choice and flexibility in how they order, pay and receive their food during the pandemic. It will remain important beyond this crisis, the company noted.

Moving forward, technology will play a big role. Restaurants like New York City’s Daniel and Canada’s Pizzaville have made that quite clear. And it’s hard to predict just how much change we’ll see in the future of restaurants, but it surely has already shifted consumers in this pandemic to operating in a more digital world.

“If restaurants are flexible to whatever comes their way, it might be the difference between survival and failure because they have the ability to adapt,” Nataf says. “And in a good economy, that might lead to doing 200% of your normal business.”

Interested in learning more about our restaurant technology solutions?

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In a Post-Pandemic World, Curbside Pickup Will Pick Up Steam

As more consumers move to online and mobile ordering during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s no surprise that curbside pickup, facilitated by smartphone apps and digital payments, is experiencing growth with restaurants and retailers. Between late February and late March, buy-online-pickup-in-store orders, which includes curbside, increased 87% year over year, according to Adobe Analytics.

Many more businesses are now swiftly coming aboard to capture their share of the revenue pie. Experts predict that this is not just a short-term approach to connect with customers during a global pandemic.

“Curbside pickup is the fastest-growing part of the retail and restaurant business,” says Brian Yarbrough, senior research analyst at Edward Jones, where he follows the retail and restaurant industries.

And that was even before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Now, retailers from every industry segment are turning into no-contact stores. Just as an example, grocery stores saw a significant surge in pickups and delivery in the U.S. during a 30-day period in February and March. Nearly one-third of U.S. customers used a delivery or pickup service, compared to 13% in August 2019, jumping 145.3% during that period.

Here for the long haul

Many consumers were at least somewhat familiar with curbside pickup well before COVID-19. Typically, a customer places an order online, pays digitally, then drives to the destination and parks outside, where a runner brings the food or goods to the car.

“It’s the cost of doing business today. If you’re not doing it, you’re falling behind,” says Yarbrough.

Many major retailers have installed parking spaces for curbside pickup. Smaller businesses are simply instructing customers to put on their car’s hazard lights and call the store when they arrive. Retailers can build brand loyalty with customers by offering fast, touchless digital payments and easy-to-use mobile apps. “So far what we’re learning is consumer satisfaction is very high on these offerings,” says Yarbrough.

“While COVID-19 is hastening adoption of curbside pickup services, it’s here to stay for the long haul. And businesses can make the adjustments now to realize a new distribution channel far into the future.”Tweet Quote

Reducing shopper stress

Convenience, speed and making payments easy are three keys to a successful curbside program, says Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP Consulting. Plus, new vehicle location technology used by some retailers and restaurants expedites the curbside experience for customers.

“A lot of retailers are offering their own mobile apps now for easy ordering and paying,” says Neville. “You pay with Apple Pay or link your credit card to the apps.”

From a consumer perspective, Neville says one of the obvious benefits of curbside pickup is reducing stress in people who have stressful lives. “I’m stressed about going to Target, finding a parking spot, navigating all of the aisles and dealing with long lines and a lot of people,” he says. And now in a post-COVID world, the stakes are much higher.

Laura Kennedy, a retail consultant with Kantar Consulting, says curbside pickup is the next iteration of the industry-wide trend in retail toward ecommerce and convenience.

“It’s the continuation of the general trend around convenience,” says Kennedy. “Consumers are demanding this service. Consumers want options and flexibility, and some don’t want to even have to get out of their car.”

While the current climate is hastening adoption of curbside pickup services, it’s here to stay for the long haul. And businesses can make the adjustments now to realize a new distribution channel far into the future.