Restaurants Looking to Mobile Payments Systems, Beyond, To Do More

September 10, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Mobile payments have already done wonders for restaurants. Just look at how many places now have app-based ordering systems with the option to pay ahead, meaning all you as a diner have to do is pick up the food or eat it there. Not surprisingly, though, most restaurants are looking to go beyond the current uses of mobile systems, and discovering that there’s still room for opportunity.

One firm, Eat Again, is looking to use mobile beyond the easy order-and-pay-and-pickup combination to instead offer service for the main dining room. There are customers, after all, who want to visit a restaurant for the décor, the background music, and the carefully cultured and curated experience that means a draw for some customers.

Mobile order-ahead and mobile payments work well here too; after all, who doesn’t want to walk into the dining room, knowing they need not wait for someone to take their order? Plus, paying ahead of time means the diner can leave when he or she is ready, not after some harried waiter brings a check.  Even the restaurants benefit; there’s extra time to prepare an order that way when someone’s ordering a half-hour or more ahead.

This isn’t the first time such a system has been considered; recently, Applebee’s parent company Dine Brands was looking into it. Moreover, some fast food and fast casual restaurants are incorporating mobile order-ahead concepts, and it likely doesn’t matter what the customer does with the advance-ordered food as long as it’s paid for.

Really, it doesn’t seem like such a concept would be necessary. Sure, restaurants might have to re-engineer things a bit to allow customers to order ahead and eat in—they’d have to treat orders like reservations unless otherwise indicated—but aside from that, most of the same mechanisms that let customers order ahead and pay ahead should let them enjoy the main dining room as well.

Better yet, with such a system in wide use, it may be possible to get rid of the POS stands and the like scattered about restaurants today. Waitstaff will no longer need to input an order, because customers will do it themselves. Sure, there may need to be provision made for those without smartphones, but even then, it’s still a whole lot less.