Are you a restaurant operator looking to dip your toe in the waters of automation but befuddled by the various channels on offer? Struggling to decide whether mobile order and pay is the best way to cut labour costs, if self-service kiosks are the most effective in improving the overall guest experience or if a mix and match of channels is the best way to go? Well, stop ruminating. We compare and contrast mobile, web, tablet and kiosk and how each stack up when it comes to 4 core aspects: 

• Guest experience
• Order & payment
• Marketing & Loyalty
• Cost

 

MOBILE

Guest Experience ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
It’s hard to trump mobile when it comes to guest experience. When convenience, personalisation and speed is at the top of consumers’ lists, mobile makes it all possible. It offers the kind of flexibility only available on a personal, portable device. For example, a guest can use their mobile to locate your nearest store, redeem a coupon for their favourite drink, order ahead for pick up, pay, store their most ordered meals, track their loyalty status, connect with their friends and communicate with your brand. It has it all.

User interface design and the creation of a purpose built native app with all the mobile-specific customer flows and bells and whistles that come with it means the user experience can reach another level entirely.

Without a doubt, the most powerful aspect of mobile is the ability to automatically collect very in-depth data about your guests to drive highly personalised marketing and loyalty activities. There is a staggering amount of valuable data mobile can give you. Everything from where your guest is, what they order, which stores they frequent and at what times, what their buying habits are, what their payment preferences are and much more. If your mobile order and pay solution is properly integrated with you CRM and loyalty systems, imagine what that could mean for your guest experience?

Guests would be able to order when and where it is most convenient to them, redeem offers most relevant to them, pay with their preferred method and all of this would be seamless and automatic through intel garnered through just simply using the mobile app.

Order & Payment ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Unsurprisingly, mobile comes out on top when considering order and payment capabilities for your guests. Your customers can browse, add and amend their order, split and pay bills all with a few taps of their fingers.

Ordering through mobile has the potential to be the ultimate in convenience as guests can browse and order on-the-go, when and where is suits them. Their preferences and past orders can be remembered and re-ordered quickly and after a while, the app starts resembling an intelligent food ordering assistant rather than a passive channel.

Mobile payments are hard to beat to and your guests are cottoning on to the fact that it makes the whole journey faster and easier if they’re able to pay with their smartphone. Global mobile payment transaction volume stands at $235.4bn and is growing with 67% of consumers agreeing that stores should embrace smartphone payments according to Verizon.

As biometric authentication for mobile payments quell consumer security fears, mobile might be not only the most convenient means of order and pay, but also the most secure.

Marketing & Loyalty ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Marketing and loyalty is where mobile really comes to the fore. It stands head and shoulder above the other self-service channels purely because of its 1:1 personal relationship with your guest.

With a mobile app, you can find out where your guest is, automatically collect data on what they like to order, when they tend to order it, whether they have a family, which stores they go to most frequently and much more. With such rich intel, your marketing and loyalty campaigns have the potential to be propelled to a whole new level.

Imagine your customer has just arrived at Edinburgh Airport. You can use location-based marketing to alert them to your nearest store and entice them to buy with an offer, “Hi Kate, we’re just around the corner, why not get a free coffee with your usual chocolate muffin before your next flight?” This kind of personalised, intel-led marketing is highly effective in terms of boosting redemption rates. Loyalty is a similar story.

Guests like to feel special so when you offer a personalised loyalty scheme offering highly relevant rewards, plus the added convenience of mobile it’ll ensure your guests come back to you time and again. The beauty of mobile is the convenience factor. Offers, points status, rewards information, location, preferences – it’s all stored and managed from your guests’ smartphone making it the most powerful enabler of marketing and loyalty activities of all the self-service channels.

Cost: £
By choosing a mobile provider that offers either an out-of-the-box, white label or SDK plug-and-play solution, mobile is a very affordable option compared to its other self-service contemporaries. There are not installation, maintenance and upgrade costs as your guests are in charge of their own hardware. Mobile does become costly however if you decide to appoint an agency to custom design and develop an app from scratch.

Mobile ratings
• Guest experience: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
• Order & payment: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
• Marketing & Loyalty: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
• Cost: £

 

WEB

Guest Experience ⭐⭐⭐
Web is probably the channel most familiar to the majority of your guests. From the baby boomers through to Millennial digital natives right down to Gen Z, most will have had some form of prior web experience. Although familiar, the actual guest experience has its limitations especially when you compare it to the power of mobile. For example, guests have the inconvenience of logging to their specific account before ordering if operators are to capture that all important data and preferences. And even if the site is responsive and available on tablet or mobile, it still doesn’t have that purpose-made fluid customer experience of the level a native mobile app can achieve.

Where web is clunky for continuous for logins, it makes up for it by being highly accessible across consumer devices. With a responsive site, your guests can access services such as order and pay through their tablet, mobile, laptop or desktop without having to download an app that takes up valuable mobile memory.

Order & Payment ⭐⭐⭐
Web order and payment for food and drink is a familiar process for those who purchase goods online on a regular basis. Forrester Research estimates shoppers will spend $370bn online (including web shopping from their phones) by 2017, up $262bn in 2013. Credit cards seem to be the preferred method of online payment with Visa and MasterCard taking 59% of all payments and PayPal just 14%.

Web offers a good order and payment experience because of its flexibility, consumers can self-order and pay on any of their web-enabled devices and they don’t need to download an app to do it. The web experience has its limitations though. For example, unless guests login to their account, previous order purchases and saved payment preferences can’t automatically be applied to their journey unlike a native app. There is a perception of security aspect to consider also. Guests might be more comfortable saving their credit card details on a native mobile app compared to a website, especially if it is a shared device. This means every time your guests check-out, they’ll need to input their card details which is cumbersome.

Marketing & Loyalty ⭐⭐⭐
When it comes to marketing and loyalty convenience, web has its limitations. Sure, you can send a money off voucher via email or display a coupon code on your website but then your guest must note down the number or print out the coupon for redemption on-site. You might think a responsive website for mobile might solve those problems but unless your customer logs into their account, there’s no way of identifying them to serve a personalised, tailored offer or allow them to benefit from loyalty points accrual for example.

Web is also restricted in its marketing power because there’s no way of tracking where your customer is. If they’re close to your store, you might want to send them a notification saying, ‘Hey, we’re just up the street from you, pop by for a ham and cheese toastie to claim your free coffee!” And although simple enough to do via mobile, web just doesn’t offer that kind of location-based marketing capability.

Cost: £
Most websites now are fully responsive and, like mobile, if you choose a provider that offers a fully functional plug-and-play web solution for mobile order and payment, the costs are minimal. Again, like mobile, costs can quickly get out of control if you device to appoint an agency to build a completely bespoke website designing and developing the order and payment piece from scratch.

Web ratings
• Guest experience: ⭐⭐⭐
• Order & payment: ⭐⭐⭐
• Marketing & Loyalty: ⭐⭐⭐
• Cost: £

 

TABLET

Guest Experience ⭐⭐⭐⭐
For clarity, when we say tablet, we’re referring to operator-owned shared devices either handled by the server or fixed to your tables on-site. The user experience for tablet is pretty good. The screens are larger, clearer and more engaging than mobile and there’s something that screams luxury and innovation when you walk into an establishment and you’re presented with a (hopefully clean), shiny, eye catching tablet device from which to interact and order.

The main issue with a shared device from a guest experience perspective is the lack of marketing and loyalty it affords. Asking a guest of login to their account on a shared device isn’t realistic and presents several security concerns. Guests might also be reluctant to pay from a shared tablet device meaning the end-to-end customer journey of browsing and buying becomes disjointed.

However, because the tablet belongs to you, the operator, the devices can be used for more than just order and payment. You can stream media and use them as interactive digital signs when not in use and even take it a step further by allowing customer to control their environment with the tablets, choosing the music and adjusting other aspects of their immediate environment if they so wished.

If you operated outlets within an airport, you could even turn these tablets into an ancillary revenue-generating channel by allowing guests to access other adjacent services such as duty free, spa and hotel booking, charging suppliers for valuable tablet space to promote these services. As the range of services available to guest grow, so too does its relevance and convenience and, ultimately, the overall experience improves.

Order & Payment ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Again, referring to an operator-owned shared device, tablets offer a great food and drink ordering experience. With their bigger screens and enticing photography, guests can browse a delicious looking menu and order quickly and easily.

The issues for tablets arise when we consider payment. Guests won’t want to input card details or use secure payment credentials to pay for their meal on a shared device. So you might have shiny new tablets for ordering but your staff will still need to take payment from guests after they’ve finished their meal.

Like web, unless a guest logs in to their account on a tablet, their past behaviours and payment preferences cannot be applied to the process. For example, even though you may know a specific guest always has a soya mocha and a grilled cheese and ham sandwich and likes paying with their Visa card, you can’t pre-load a mocha and grilled sandwich selection for them unless you know it’s them making the order. And that requires a login from the guest.

Marketing & Loyalty ⭐⭐
We consider tablet and kiosk together here as they offer very similar marketing and loyalty capabilities. Like web, unless your guest signs into their account, there is no way of identifying them and applying past information to inform current marketing offers. Because tablets and kiosks within your stores are shared devices, many guests might be put off by logging into a private account and these security fears will be detrimental to are loyalty and marketing efforts.

Although you might not have the powerful personalised marketing and loyalty capabilities, you can still engage in generic marketing offers but when 46% of people under 50 want personalised offers for in-store purchases on their mobiles and when 57% of people who receive targeted and relevant rewards via mobile in the form of discounts and special offers redeem them on the spot, operators will lose out by not collecting that all important guest data.

Cost: ££
Depending on how many tablets you want to deploy per store and how many stores you have, equipping your estate can be expensive. As well as the install, maintenance and upgrade expenditure, you also have to make sure your tablets are capable of withstanding the relatively inhospitable environment of a café, bar, restaurant or other hospitality outlets. The cost of cleaning, and repairing tablets that are knocked, covered in drinks, dropped etc can all add up.

Tablet ratings
• Guest experience: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
• Order & payment: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
• Marketing & Loyalty: ⭐⭐
• Cost: ££

 

KIOSK

Guest Experience ⭐⭐⭐⭐
With their eye-catching graphics, purpose built screen flows and UI design, kiosks do offer a great user experience when the user is in-store. But if you want to offer your guests the convenience of being able to pre-order and pay or browse and order when and where it suits them most (e.g. on their way to work), kiosks just don’t cut it.

Kiosks do, however, lend themselves well to the older generations. With the larger screens and intuitive interfaces, they’re certainly the most user-friendly of devices. Self-service kiosks are also becoming more prevalent in everyday transactions, from high street shops to banks to travel and super markets, kiosks are becoming an ever more common sight. As people become more familiar with kiosk automation, they’ll start to not only accept but expect kiosk self-service for their hospitality needs.

Order & Payment ⭐⭐⭐
Kiosk is very similar to a shared tablet device when it comes to order and payment. Pros include a large eye-catching display to scroll through an engaging, high res images of mouth-watering food and drinks but payment is a bit more complicated. Again, guests won’t be willing to input their credit card details on a touchscreen but if an EMV terminal was integrated into the kiosk stand, payment can be taken quickly and easily with zero security concerns. It would be exactly like paying on an EMV device provided by staff.

Marketing & Loyalty ⭐⭐
>>See Tablet section, we consider these channels together

Cost: £££
Kiosk is by far the costliest of all the automated channels. They’re not only expensive to buy but the added costs of configuring, shipping, installing and maintaining them can be eye-watering. Kiosk designs also go out of fashion fast. Where guests can upgrade their own mobile phone when a new model is out, it’s up to you as the operator to upgrade and improve kiosks as and when they start looking tired and out-of-date. With kiosks you also need to consider the cost of enabling payments. If you do decide to let guests pay themselves, you will have to upgrade your payment terminals in parallel with changing security and payment mandates such as EMV and the current liability shift.

Kiosk ratings
• Guest experience: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
• Order & payment: ⭐⭐⭐
• Marketing & Loyalty: ⭐⭐
• Cost: £££

 

Flexi-channel self-service
So far, we’ve compared mobile, web, tablet and kiosk self-service channels as distinct solutions but there is no reason why, as an operator, you shouldn’t mix and match channels to suit your specific service model or business requirements.

Imagine giving your guests the ultimate flexibility of choosing how to interact and transact with your brand exactly how and when they wish whilst maintaining the context between each channel as they progress through the consumer journey. For example, a customer might browse your menu at home on their computer then walk through to their kitchen and ask their kids what they want ordering it on their mobile app. When they get in-store to pick up their order, your guest wants to add a coffee so skips the queue, adds it to their check and pays for the total order using the in-store self-service kiosk. They then head straight to the express line, pick-up their meal and make their way home following a convenient and smooth self-service experience.

By opting for a fully integrated, flexi-channel solution, your guests can pick and choose the way they order and pay as and when it suits them. This type of omni-channel experience can really only be achieved through a single self-service platform that’s fully integrated into your existing POS, payment and marketing and loyalty systems. By opting for this type of solution, your guests can enjoy a five star experience throughout their journey and in turn, you can reap the benefits of bolstered loyalty, more powerful, intel-led marketing campaigns, significantly higher check-values and greater operational efficiency.