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The State of Payments in the Food-Service Industry

Published on August 10, 2023
By PAR Team

Restaurant technology is constantly evolving and adapting to ever-changing market preferences and consumer behavior. Over the past few years, there is not one solution that has progressed and adapted more to the changing times than payment solutions. Payment solutions have had to adapt to some of the industry’s most prominent challenges and have gone through rapid evolutionary changes to alleviate them. These solutions have become increasingly important, and restaurant owners and operators have come to understand that leveraging them can pay dividends in the long run.

In a recent Soarpay podcast, PAR’s own, Sal Nazir, General Manager of PAR Payments, discussed some of the exciting trends and current state of payments in the restaurant industry as well as what the future holds. From contactless payments to emerging payment experiences, here are the key takeaways from the discussion:

A Shift Towards Contactless Payments

A major theme discussed throughout the podcast was the rise in contactless payment options sparked by COVID-19. The pandemic had a major impact on the payments game, and as a result, consumers became more health-conscious and demanded brands provide them with cleaner ways to pay. As customer demand for contactless payment options increased, brands began to offer guests tap-and-pay options by leveraging NFC (near-field-communication) credit and debit cards as well as Apple Wallets and Google Wallets, ultimately limiting a guest’s physical contact with terminals and card readers. “What we are seeing is a lift-off in contactless payments,” said Nazir. “The use of mobile devices with Apple Pay or Google Pay or one of those types of platforms, those ones are really accelerated. We continue to see the use of those technologies and contactless payments continue to grow,” explained Nazir. In fact, roughly half (51%) of American consumers are leveraging contactless payment methods like tap-to-go credit cards and mobile wallets. With so many consumers preferring contactless payment options over traditional cash payments, it is crucial for brands to implement them to stay ahead of customer demands. “[Consumers] are now leaning into this new piece of technology and demanding [brands] to have this capability. Otherwise, it is hard for them to go there to shop,” said Nazir. Offering contactless payments will likely influence a guest’s shopping decisions and can make or break a brand’s success.

Combining Payments and Loyalty Create Convenient Payment Methods

Another key topic Nazir dove deep into was combining mobile wallets with loyalty programs to create unique and convenient payment experiences. Surveys show that 79% of Americans are more likely to join a rewards program that does not require them to carry a physical card. Clearly, consumers expect a seamless experience to stay connected with brands. A proven way to achieve this is by combining mobile wallets and loyalty into one as it enables brands to create unique and convenient payment experiences like one-tap loyalty. “One-tap loyalty [allows you to] tap your mobile phone at the point-of-sale device, and you can enroll in the [brands] loyalty program,” said Nazir. “You can earn points in the loyalty program, you can redeem your points, and pay all in one tap [on] your phone.” PAR’s One-Tap Loyalty solution provides consumers with the ultimate convenience as payments and loyalty redemption can be fulfilled in a single step. With this payment and loyalty experience, brands can expand their reach to new customer segments and engage their guests in new ways. Payment experiences like one-tap loyalty not only create unique payment opportunities for guests but also create personal relationships between guests and the brand. “One thing we have learned is when people put something in their Apple Wallet, it is a very personal connection,” said Nazir. “Because you are putting maybe your health card or your driver’s license or your credit card. So, if you are putting a loyalty platform in there, your usage tends to be high,” explained Nazir. Payment strategies, like one-tap loyalty, are proven to improve participation and engagement as well as drive repeat visits.

Payment solutions are constantly evolving and adapting to ever-changing customer demands. Following a well-grounded payment strategy and continuously looking toward the future is key to staying ahead of these demands. As payment technologies continue to progress, brands of all sizes and in all industries must ensure they have the proper solutions in place to drive sales and repeat visits, achieve new KPIs, and bolster customer experiences well into the future.

Interested in learning more about the payment solution needed to stay ahead of the changing times and customer demand? Visit us at PARPay or book a demo today!

Tiffany Disher, General Manager, MENU North America

Tiffany Disher

General Manager, MENU North America

Tiffany Disher, General Manager, MENU North America, an omni-channel ordering solution to futureproof restaurant’s growing digital sales needs. Before taking on this new role in January 2023, she was an integral part of Punchh’s growth story. She has advised hundreds of customers over the past eight years on their loyalty strategies both from a base program standpoint as well as ongoing marketing strategies. Before Punchh, Tiffany worked for Schlotzsky’s where she supported the brand marketing team by leading loyalty, eClub, R&D, Franchise advisory council and marketing analytics. Tiffany has her Bachelor’s of Science in Economics from University of Oregon and Master’s in Business with a specialty in Marketing from Baylor University. An avid golfer, hiker and mom of two small children, Tiffany spends her limited free time entering into baking competitions.