I recently sat down with my fellow product manager, Joel Udwin, to talk about where our worlds collide: integrating mobile at the point of sale. We like to think that a mobile strategy is placed in the pocket of the consumer, but it doesn’t stay there – mobile engagement must integrate with in-store operations to be successful. Joel, who manages our mobile products, explains why:
Q: Why is a POS integration important when it comes to mobile engagement?
A: Wow, Paige. I thought that since we worked together, you would give me easy questions, but you just knocked it out of the park. [Chuckles] I don’t like bucketing mobile into this separate silo of mobile engagement. When we talk about mobile engagement, we are really just talking about guest engagement. At restaurants and convenience stores, a large portion of customer engagement occurs at the point of sale, where most transactions take place today. Implementing an engagement strategy without considering your point of sale is like driving a small car on an icy road – you’ll move around, but you won’t necessarily be able to control where you are going. Basically, if your engagement program doesn’t translate at the POS, your employees will be too frustrated by it to evangelize it, and your guests won’t want to use it. Successful mobile engagement programs need to work in harmony with point-of-sale technology and operations.
Q: How can mobile speed up service?
A: In a QSR environment, mobile can speed up service by allowing guests to check in and scan their identifying code at the POS. This allows staff to seamlessly associate customers with their check, apply any rewards, and process any applicable payment – with only one scan. Now that is a frictionless guest experience! In an FSR environment, utilizing mobile/online ordering or “pay at the table” enables locations to increase revenue per square foot by decreasing table turnover time and increasing the amount of orders that don’t require a table at all.
Q: You mentioned mobile ordering. In today’s restaurant space, we’ve seen market leaders encountering problems with this. They receive so many mobile orders during their normal rush hour that the whole operation is slowed down. How do you predict that these leading brands will address this issue? Do you have any tips for our readers who may be facing this problem today?
A: That’s a great question. Before we can answer it, I think we need to talk about why mobile ordering is so popular with consumers. We know that it’s popular among restaurants and convenience stores because it can increase lifetime of guests, offering opportunities to sell to them outside the four walls. Consumers themselves are interested in mobile ordering because it represents the digitization of the hospitality experience. For example, since my desk is next to yours, I know that sometimes you are on Amazon and you click “order.” Then, the next day, something arrives at your desk and you are super excited. Customers have a similar experience with mobile ordering. They now expect that “Amazon effect” with their food order – even more so because it’s food. They expect it to be available as soon as they walk on the premises.
I have seen that a lot of different players in the market have been choosing to implement a throttling approach, where they limit the amount of online orders per hour and put customers into different batches according to when their food will be ready. Ultimately, I think guests will expect their food to be ready when they arrive, not based on a time convenient to the location. The solution to this major customer problem will only come about through the deep integration of mobile user data, point-of-sale information, and labor/inventory management.
Implementing a mobile engagement strategy is a huge endeavor. While the mobile customer experience is paramount, the lifeblood of your program is its integration with the POS. Adoption rates will plummet if employees aren’t motivated to drive guest engagement due to software downtime or confusing screen flows. Enacting a solution that performs well at and with the POS will please your customers, employees, and corporate stakeholders.