Consumer Craving for Digital Experiences Supports Use Case for QR Codes, Online Order and Curbside Delivery

Digitization was a salvation for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) during the pandemic. Trends such as QR codes, online ordering and deliveries caught on quickly as companies large and small sought ways to keep going about their business.

Not only were those trends lifelines for SMBs, they also proved to be much more convenient for consumers. So much so, that as normality slowly permeates back into everyday life, the way SMBs do business will remain anything but normal.

“People like digital experiences, they understand them and now they’re craving more of them,” said Paytronix Chief Executive Andrew Robbins in an interview with PYMNTS.

Robbins related how just the other day he was at a brewery having drinks with friends, and he noticed food could be ordered from the menu using a QR code. The meals actually came from another restaurant down the street, though. But rather than curbside pickup, it was delivered directly to the table.

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“So they’re blending the beer that comes locally with food from somewhere else, and you get this hybrid experience where some things you order in person and others you order from your phone,” he said. “But everybody gets it.”

The scene is heating up too. Paytronix, which has built a payments and order technology platform for restaurants and stores, faces competition from the likes of Toast and Square, and there are rumors that Apple is going to jump in with its own point of sale system soon too. Amazon has also been making noises about entering a market that seems ready-made for its platforms.

Robbins didn’t seem too concerned over the prospect though, saying he believes competition drives more innovation and that customers will ultimately go with whatever solutions makes their lives easier.

“You have to make it easy for people to buy stuff and wrap that experience together, then they’ll choose the winner,” he said.

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One of the ways Paytronix has done just that is by adding Google Pay and Apple Pay to its online ordering service, making it simple for consumers to pay just by entering their card’s CVV code. As a result of this, conversion rates have gone up, he said, because it just makes it easier for people to complete their orders.

“That’s because it’s more seamless, it’s easier for the consumer so more of them buy,” Robbins said. “Whoever provides that kind of tech will help be the winner and you will see SMBs adopting it.”

But it may be that not every industry wants to do things in the most seamless way. In the case of convenience stores, which are of course about providing convenience more than anything else, Robbins said he believes these may actually shy away from making things too easy for consumers. Deliveries, he said, are a case in point. Whereas restaurants have gone all out to make delivery a critical element of their business, convenience stores are unlikely to go down the same path.

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“Delivery is interesting for them, but the real play is going to be more curbside pickup,” Robbins said.

Robbins has a number of reasons why that’s the case, with cigarettes and alcohol two crucial ones for many consumers. The most important reason though is that convenience store purchases are mostly impulsive, meaning people don’t want to wait.

He said one company local to the Boston area, Alltown Fresh, has already perfected this model with tasty food, a streamline digital ordering experience and curbside pickup. Most people, he said, actually choose this over delivery.

“When you order a delivery you’re not sure exactly when it’s going to show up,” he said. “If it takes just a minute for you to jump in the car and hop over there, and you know it will come directly to you so you can keep the kids in the car, it just makes sense.”