By Adam King, CEO of SwipeStation
Contactless payments have accelerated significantly in the past few years. Taking precedence is mobile ordering, a completely contactless, cashless experience. For large stadia and hospitality venues, the current systems for taking money are inefficient, counter-intuitive and often expensive. In fact, most venues are at one of the following stages in their ‘till journey’:
- Tills from the middle ages that can only take cash: However, in a post-pandemic world, these are no longer an option.
- Tills with card readers: All they do is take the payment, so there’s no way to track stock or sales data – which is vital in a venue with multiple kiosks.
- EPOS with integrated card readers: Designed to be used every day by well-trained staff in relatively calm environments. Retrofit these systems into a hospitality environment and they actually prove to be the slowest, least efficient and certainly the most expensive option. They are far too complex for casual staff to understand, so servers must arrive early for extra training – adding yet more expense. Even with training, casual staffers are not able to process orders quickly and frequently make mistakes – slowing service down.
Mitigating costly upgrades
Whether it’s upgrading existing systems or starting from scratch, stadia and hospitality venues are faced with the daunting choice of software and hardware packages that are extremely expensive.
At a time when they are recovering from a long period of reduced or non-existent revenue, how do venues sign off on such a technology upgrade? Even if they could afford it, why compromise with a system that wasn’t designed for casual servers or the mad rush to the bar – let alone both at the same time!
On the other hand, is there a way to bring an advanced ordering experience to the customer without the massive CAPEX expenditure of new card readers, EPOS systems or touch screens?
Thankfully, the solution is within easy reach. Rather than pay for expensive hardware and software, why not utilise the devices that we all carry in our pockets?
Shifting to mobile ordering
It’s been reported that 1.31 billion people will use a mobile ordering app worldwide by 2023. There is no doubt the pandemic has dramatically advanced attitudes towards mobile ordering by a few years in just a few months. People are now using their phones to order just about anything – especially food and drinks. A combination of digitally-savvy consumers, health and safety concerns, and multiple cost benefits has expedited this progress across the hospitality and retail sectors – which can only be beneficial to businesses in these spaces. Even the 13% of the population who don’t use a smartphone are probably attending a match with someone who does. If not, it’s still possible to service them using special assistants.
For those venues still operating tills (or who are facing a costly EPOS renewal), this seismic shift in consumer behaviour is an opportunity to skip EPOS completely and jump straight to a cheaper, more efficient payment method. This is an example of a ‘Leapfrog technology’ – where you skip the present and head straight for the future, such as forgoing fossil fuels and power lines and jumping straight to renewable energy.
Increasing sales with mobile ordering
Stadia and hospitality venues need to realise there are a host of benefits to gain from forgoing a till upgrade than just the cost of the kit. By removing deliberation, ordering and payment from the service area, efficiency in the kiosks goes through the roof, with servers in click and collect fast lanes able to serve up to three customers a minute – eliminating queues and increasing sales. For instance, at the Coventry Building Society Arena, (formerly the Ricoh Arena), mobile ordering fast lanes outperformed their neighbouring tills by 24.5%.
Making the jump and breaking the mould is no doubt a daunting prospect, yet becoming a market leader and experiencing the revenue increase is guaranteed to be worth the risk.
Next steps in contactless
If you are representing a stadium or hospitality venue that is looking to integrate contactless and cashless point of sales and payment systems, it’s worth considering mobile solutions.
The benefits aren’t just operational and financial. The data generated by mobile ordering is far superior to anything that tills can offer – since all purchases refer back to an individual email address. For the first time, operators can learn the annual value of a sports fan, with options to send them targeted offers both on and off a match day. Integrating mobile payment services into fan apps only serves to enhance the cashless evolution, transferring away from outdated tills and into a user-friendly, end-to-end spectator experience with just a mobile device in the hands of customers.
Going cashless is no longer sufficient. Large venues need to offer their customers the best experience possible, especially at this crucial time. Avoiding service areas, implementing in-seat delivery and click & collect options are all methods to keep customers safe, happy and hydrated.
Moreover, expectations have drastically evolved and consumers will demand that their venue experiences reflect what they’ve come to know and love in pubs, restaurants and coffee shops – where mobile ordering is optional (if not compulsory) and queues are quickly becoming a thing of the past.