How innovative payments built into POS systems are changing the restaurant industry

Friday, September 30, 2022

Some restaurateurs love to switch up their menus in favor of seasonal, locally-sourced dishes. Others have been serving the same celebrated recipes for fifty years. One thing is true for every restaurant, though: Whether the flavors change or remain the same, innovative payment technology is the future.

Consumer demand and market conditions have long been driving technology advances in all segments, and restaurants are no exception. Customers expect flexible payment methods. Business owners need real-time analytics and digital loyalty programs to stay competitive. And – as you know first hand – the COVID-19 pandemic has forced food and beverage business owners to embrace even more technologies like contactless transactions, curbside service and modern, cloud-based restaurant point of sale and payments solutions.

Consumer demand and market conditions have long been driving technology advances in all segments, and restaurants are no exception.

Many restaurant owners are bogged down by the daily demand of running a fast paced, ever changing business in today’s world and may be unsure which technologies deliver the biggest benefits—without blowing up their budget. Or they may be wary of the changes they’d face in integrating new digital channels or updating payment processors.

In fact, one recent study shows that around 63% of top-ranking food and beverage, retail and hotel brands surveyed are unsure where to invest in technology and allocate resources – including POS systems, ecommerce platforms and mobile payment apps.

If you, too, are feeling hesitant – or maybe even excited, but not sure where to start – keep reading to discover how modern POS systems and payments technology can benefit your business, satisfy your customers and help you easily and securely accept any form of payment in your restaurant:

Waiter placing an order in the Ipad-based POS system

From early cash registers to iPad-based POS systems, payments have a big impact on restaurant operations

In the mid-1980s, the first microprocessor-controlled cash register debuted at McDonald’s, providing the fast food chain with reports and receipts for the first time and speeding up the food ordering and checkout process.

Soon, POS systems offered touchscreen technology and colographic monitors. They introduced electronic capabilities, like the ability to pay with credit cards, kicking off the evolution for more powerful, sophisticated equipment and creating potential beyond simple sales transactions.

In just a few short decades, what was once basic and bulky transformed into a feature-rich card reader system that redefined the customer experience and offered a variety of capabilities beyond running credit cards.

Today, there are multiple ways to take orders and process payments in your restaurant, and they’re all doable with a lightweight, tablet-based cloud solution.

Evolving payment and ordering technologies are giving customers the freedom to order and pay at their favorite eateries tableside, with QR code menus, curbside or meals delivered directly to their porch. That last bit is especially important today. According to the National Restaurant Association, 53% of consumers say takeout and delivery are essential to their lifestyle, and in 2021, food delivery was reported to have a global market worth more than $150 billion.

Innovative improvements are completely changing the restaurant industry, and while some recipes don’t need refinement (we’re looking at you, diner-style cherry pie), the technology shakeups across the hospitality sector are very appetizing.

A customer is handing their credit card over to pay another person with their phone out.

Benefits of modern restaurant POS payment solutions

Today’s restaurant payment processing systems are built to make payment acceptance efficient, flexible and secure — creating the best possible experience for customers. They also collect and churn data, so you can meet and then exceed customer expectations by delivering a personalized experience. Even better, cloud software lets you do all of the above from anywhere you need to be — in your restaurant, at home or on the road.

Most customers know what they want: swift service, the option to pay with their Visa card tableside or via a digital wallet. Some rely on online booking tools to nab highly-sought reservations or seek restaurants with menu items that meet specific dietary needs. The better equipped you are to meet those needs, the more tables you’ll be able to turn.

When you use modern restaurant payment processing technologies in your restaurant, the benefits stack up:

Provide customers with a secure way to accept all the payment methods they prefer

Never miss a sale when you offer convenient payment options like secure processing for EMV-enabled debit cards and credit cards. Accept Apple Pay®, Google Pay™ and gift cards. Tap, dip or swipe — no matter what customers are packing in their wallet, you’ll be ready to accommodate their preference.

Offer contactless payments

To reduce contact during transactions, many restaurants are inviting customers to pay with their credit cards or debit cards via digital wallets on their smartphone, smartwatch or smart card. These options create a great experience for restaurant staff and customers alike, speeding up transactions and increasing security and transparency.

point of sale system

Create personalized experiences with customer insights

Loyalty programs have evolved significantly, offering merchants like you the opportunity to provide more targeted, personalized incentives that turn casual customers into regulars.

Speed up the dining process

Skip-the-line and kiosk ordering, order and pay by QR code functionality and a guest app where customers can book reservations and earn rewards are all new features of restaurant technology that reduce wait times, eliminate the need for physical menus and provide helpful nutritional information. Customers have been craving – even demanding – these options in the last few years, so adopting them is a surefire way to encourage repeat business.

Serve a buffet of ordering options

Whether your restaurant menu offers four different types of fries or boasts a robust wine list from celebrated vineyards, you know your customers appreciate choices. That goes for ordering, too. Being able to order at the table with a server, at a self-service kiosk or online from the comforts of home ensures your guests can enjoy their favorite dishes from almost anywhere.

Being able to order at the table with a server, at a self-service kiosk or online from the comforts of home ensures your guests can enjoy their favorite dishes from almost anywhere.

Gather helpful data to inform decisions

Payments tech helps maintain order within your operations and makes your offerings more accessible, but it also allows you to forecast consumer needs, track demand and get closer to diners and their preferences. That’s not all: You can also use payments data to determine when to schedule extra staff and when to cut servers to avoid wasting money with a full team on slow nights — or figure out the best time to introduce a happy hour menu or late-night special.

Streamline back-office operations with integrations

Treat yourself to a seamless experience by connecting all your key business software solutions. For example, Heartland’s restaurant payment processing, point of sale and payroll products all integrate, cutting out excess manual work and reconciliation.

Say goodbye to clunky hardware

In the past, payments were an add-on for POS systems, so your equipment may have been outfitted with a cumbersome magstripe reader or you may have had to add a terminal PIN pad to swipe cards. Today, your hardware lets you be mobile and accept credit cards and other payments in a variety of ways, and it looks sleek and clean in any restaurant.

By investing in a restaurant POS system that values payment innovation, your restaurant reaps the rewards: more tables turned, insightful restaurant analytics that help with forecasting, less barriers for business growth, happier employees and increased revenue and customer loyalty.

A line of customers waiting to order at a food truck.

How innovative payments tech has affected every dining concept

From sandwich shops to steakhouses, nearly every small business eatery has benefited from improved payments functionality. If you haven’t upgraded your restaurant payment processing tech in a while, you may be surprised to learn how new payments solutions can enhance your restaurant’s operations — no matter what you serve.

Coffee beverages icon

Coffee shops

If you’ve been in business for a while, your cafe may have relied on a basic register that only accepted cash, debit cards and credit cards with maybe just enough functionality for a loyalty program. But now, upgraded payments software gives you and your customers so many options. You can process a nearby office’s 10-drink order with ease, offer accurate pickup times and keep your baristas from getting overwhelmed. You can serve iced coffee to the regular who comes in after her run, but doesn’t carry a wallet and wants to pay with her smartwatch. You’ve added creative drinks like nitro cold brew and espresso tonics to your menu — why not up your payments game, too?

Food truck icon

Food trucks

Running a food truck is no easy feat. That’s a small business with many moving parts — literally and figuratively. Spend more time crafting the perfect menu and securing parking permits and less time stressing over fraud and chargeback risks that tend to accompany outdated payment systems. Plus, with a system like Heartland Restaurant, you can easily send customers automated emails so they know where to find you each week, and you can quickly update menus for various events.

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Pizza with a slice cut out icon

Casual dining

A rise in food delivery from quick-service restaurants (QSR) has created the need for more innovative POS terminals. In fact, it’s anticipated that over 185 million people will use online food delivery services by 2025. Plus, the global restaurant POS terminal market size is projected to reach almost $26B by 2028. To meet demand for alternative dining and continue building your business, QSR merchants need a payment processor with online ordering functionality, delivery integrations and digital insights. Additionally, because of high cart abandonment rates, it’s important to have a point of sale that offers tailored insights that will help you win more orders over time.

Utensils alongside a menu icon

Fine dining

Guests savoring a porterhouse at a candlelit table may prefer limited interruptions, so put them in charge with sleek hardware that lets them pay at the table when they’re finished with their chocolate trifle. Plus, new payments tech allows you to create different menus for different audiences. At your full-service flagship restaurant, you can serve in-house guests the standard fare while customers at your pop-up, for example, can try specialty items being tested for your main concept.

Whether you own and operate a laidback food truck or award-winning fine-dining establishment, one location or 20, Heartland Restaurant has the fast, easy and smart payment processor solutions your business needs to attract and retain guests, boost profitability and compete in an always-changing market.

One woman doing calculations at a cafe with her laptop

Which payment processor is best? What to look for in a restaurant payment processing company

Though there are a lot of payment processor tech options on the market, not all point of sale systems are stacked with the gotta-have-it features your restaurant needs.

Some credit card processors lack exceptional customer support, failing to consistently offer live assistance and expect you to solve problems on your own with only the help of a chat forum of other customers asking the same questions. Other providers charge extra monthly fees or hidden fees for online ordering, coupons and promotions, gift cards, loyalty and other critical features. Many services limit the number of SKUs you can add to your digital inventory, and some even hit you with frequent funds holds and suspended deposits. Additional common complaints include a lack of in-depth reporting, limited hardware compatibility, risky contract periods and steep processing rates.

Though the hospitality industry may be continuously evolving, Heartland Restaurant is a sure thing you and your employees can rely on — no heavy training required.

When you introduce payments tech for your restaurant, you expect it to bolster your brand — not create additional headaches. Though the hospitality industry may be continuously evolving, Heartland Restaurant is a sure thing you and your employees can rely on — no heavy training required.

Ready to see how an intuitive, all-in-one POS can increase foot traffic, reduce wait times, automate customer management and keep the kitchen orderly? Heartland Restaurant lets you care for your guests and employees and offers two different plans – depending on your restaurant size and needs – to help you provide better service, bank on repeat business and serve your staff as well as they serve your customers.

retail point of sale system on the counter

Final thoughts

By investing in the right restaurant payment processing tech as it evolves, you can accept payments in your restaurant as seamlessly as your chefs can sear scallops. Since payments technology can make or break your margins, a solution you can rely on and a partnership you can trust makes all the difference. Flexible pricing, better profits, increased loyalty and happier staff — order up!

Heartland is the point of sale, payments and payroll solution of choice for entrepreneurs that need human-centered technology to sell more, keep customers coming back and spend less time in the back office. Nearly 1,000,000 businesses trust us to guide them through market changes and technology challenges, so they can stay competitive and focus on building remarkable businesses instead of managing the daily grind. Learn more at