Since mPOS solutions became a huge hit with U.S. merchants, one industry has proven to be continuously hungry for the mobile technology: quick-service restaurants (QSRs).
Adoption started with independent business owners — those who ran food trucks and snack stands — who were drawn to mPOS because of its cost advantages when compared to traditional POS systems. But, payments players are looking to broaden this customer base by adapting the product to be more like familiar systems used by larger QSRs.
Past research shows these merchants need to be savvy when it comes to mobile payments. For example, the average QSR customer only has an average of 20 minutes to order, pay and eat.
But because QSRs are effectively leveraging this solution and companies are already serving this market, does this mean there’s no more room for growth or innovation in the space? PYMNTS.com spoke to Sam Oches, editor of QSR magazine, to find out.
His take? The relationship between mPOS and QSRs is only just beginning. Oches suggests there’s room in the market not just for more players, but for new solutions that appeal directly to the new challenges QSRs face.
PYMNTS.com: In your opinion what are some of the major challenges the QSR industry faces today?
Sam Oches: Quick-service operators have a range of challenges facing them today, including the demand for healthier menu options, the transparency with which social media forces every business to operate under and increasing pressure to offer a distinct, unique customer experience (all of this while dealing with still-very-tight profit margins). More broadly, the industry faces the challenge of a quickly evolving consumer base that has the ability to be incredibly picky with their dine-out decisions.
From your perspective, what are some of the practical solutions available in the market today to help with these challenges?
Most operators who have been in business for some time don’t have the luxury to flip their menu and branding to satisfy new consumer demand for healthier menu options or a “cooler” store ambiance. Instead, these companies can leverage affordable new technologies and customer service strategies to improve their overall experience. This could include encouraging crew members to go the extra mile in customer interactions – communicating more via social media, for example, or having employees walk the floor to get drink refills or take away trash – or adding new technologies like mPOS systems that infuse a little “fun” into the experience. These tools spark conversation among customers, which can turn into free grassroots marketing for the restaurant.
Research shows that no other sector has welcomed mobile payments as lavishly as the restaurant sector, and in particular, fast food services. What can mobile payment make possible for the QSR space today that it was not possible before?
Fast food has always had tasty food in a quick and timely manner at its core. Mobile payment enhances that offering by making the purchase experience faster and more convenient, especially for members of the younger demographics who are increasingly tech-savvy and on the go. But mobile payment has opened other doors. For starters, it gives operators a “cool factor” that resonates with consumers who appreciate having a unique dine-out experience. It also allows operators to more easily take their show on the road (whether in food trucks or at local events) and streamline operations during peak business hours. For example, fast-food restaurants can now employ mobile payment solutions to line bust in the drive thru.
Do you believe that there is space for all the mPOS players out there targeting the QSR sector?
Absolutely. This is a nearly $300 billion industry, with thousands upon thousands of QSR operators competing for market share. Every one of them is looking for a differentiating factor, and any mPOS provider that helps streamline the payment process with the operator’s best interests (and profits) in mind while also helping the operator set his restaurant apart from the pack can succeed in this industry.
Editor, QSR magazine
Sam Oches is the editor of QSR magazine, a leading trade publication serving the quick-service and fast-casual restaurant industries. As an expert in foodservice trends, Sam’s insights have been shared in national media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, National Public Radio, and CNBC.
A graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, Sam previously served as editor in chief of Southeast Ohio magazine and as associate editor and managing editor of QSR. He is on the board of directors for the International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC) and also writes a quarterly newsletter for Duke Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Hematology-Oncology unit.
Sam lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife Katie.