Online Order Platforms Working With Industry To Create New Contactless Payment Methods

Key points

  • The need to minimise physical contact between customers and staff appears to be here for the long term
  • New apps and order systems are being designed to make it easier for customers to order without money or plastic changing hands
  • Deliveroo has launched a Table Service contactless ordering system for dine-in
  • The rise of third party platforms offering these services is focusing attention on the benefits of foodservice businesses retaining their own customer data

CONTACTLESS PAYMENT is fast emerging as a key component of the ‘new normal’ for the foodservice sector. With the need to minimise physical contact between your customers and staff looking like it’s here for the long term – plus the fact that customers are looking for reassurance that your business is doing everything it can to keep them safe – we’re already seeing an upsurge in new apps and systems designed to make it easier for customers to order without money or even plastic changing hands.

The most popular of these so far are proving to be those which allow customers to order directly from their own phones rather than a device belonging to the foodservice business. Major delivery platform provider Deliveroo has recently launched its Table Service, which it’s touting as creating a “better, safer dining experience for customers and staff”.

The commission-free (though subject to a 2 per cent service fee per order) contactless ordering system allows customers to make dine-in orders and pay using Deliveroo’s app, with the orders relayed to your own Deliveroo account and a preparation time for the food taken into account. Deliveroo is currently offering free in-store signage to promote the system and encourage signups from operators.

Innovations such as this provide benefits to both customers and staff. For the customer, it means not having to queue up to pay (which as all operators know causes problems with maintaining social distancing, especially since space around front desks/registers is usually tight) and it does remove face to face interactions with staff in taking both orders and payment. However, staff still have to bring the food out to the customer – as well as be on hand for any changes of mind and to respond to any queries, concerns or problems.

Deliveroo is the first major delivery platform provider to introduce dine-in payment functionality, and in this space it’s competing with a plethora of dine-in online order apps which began launching in earnest around June, as businesses began to reopen their doors to dine-in. In Australia, Melbourne-based Hungry Hungry has taken the opposite journey from Deliveroo – starting off as a dine-in order solution, then pivoting to taking delivery orders as the city went back into lockdown.

Hungry Hungry’s co-founder Mark Calabro explains that unlike Deliveroo, Hungry Hungry’s platform is designed to seamlessly integrate within your business’ own online marketing – so customers feel they’re ordering directly from you rather than a third party. He says it’s important for foodservice businesses to “have that engagement with their own customers – we don’t want to create a wall, like the big global aggregators have done. Our platform provides the venue with the actual data on their customers so they can engage with them after the transaction.”

This raises an important point which is becoming a concern for many industry analysts: the fact that relying on third party online order platforms means you’re essentially giving them the opportunity to create a database of your customers; data which you could otherwise be using to market to your customers directly.

As a foodservice business owner, it’s much better for you to retain that customer data yourself – it’s an invaluable tool in generating repeat business. That data is already lost to third party delivery platforms when they capture takeaway/delivery orders for you – now they stand to capture the data on your customers when dining in as well.

As one industry professional told us, “It’s time for all foodservice business owners to take a close look at how their data is being used by third party providers, and recognise how valuable it is to your own business. There are apps and systems which allow you to retain control over your own data, and I think operators will be increasingly turning to these new players as online ordering continues to evolve.”