Mobile point of sale is beyond “having a moment;” it is a way of life and business. Digital is the new normal and it is affecting all aspects of operations from guest- to staff-facing. Here Epson’s group product manager, Luis Artiz shares his insights into why mobile POS is on fire and showing no signs of being extinguished.
Much is made of the customer-facing benefits of mobile point of sale, but what impact can mPOS have on operations?
ARTIZ: Restaurant owners must think about mobile in terms of what back-office tasks can be made easier and done faster with mobile devices. Consider fresh food labeling. Instead of a handwritten sticky note on the container, why not create a label with an accurate discard timestamp to ensure compliance. You could even set up a notification to a smartphone or kitchen display when something is nearing its expiration date. The same process can be optimized for inventory management. Digital signage is another great example. You can control content and change it in real-time via a mobile device, depending on the business need. No one wants to run back to the office to change a menu board and then run to the front to check if it’s correct. These are examples of how mobile POS solutions can operationalize processes, making them more reliable, and ultimately more measurable.
Systems integration will be a focus for restaurants moving into 2017. What strategic steps will be necessary in order to achieve this?
ARTIZ: Too often we see disparate systems, including mobile devices, used in silos. If you are looking at mobile as an “add-on,” that is not the right approach. Your employees will likely end up abandoning the devices, resulting in a lost investment. In order to be optimized, mobility must be part of a holistic solution, integrated from the onset into core systems. From order taking, special menu items and customization of information being delivered to the kitchen and run out to the guests, everything must be tied into mobile POS if you want your investment to count. Information must be driven from a centralized location, with inventory and profitability in mind. At the end of the day, all that data can be utilized to optimize investment.
Identifying ROI continues to be a top challenge for restaurant operators in 2017. What suggestions can you offer to operators to justify investment in mobile initiatives? How can technology be optimized to boost profits?
ARTIZ: You must identify what you want to do with mobile before you roll it out. Do you want faster payments, line busting or mobile ordering? Ask yourself if your workflow needs a mobile solution, and if your employees are ready to embrace it. For example, by introducing mobile order taking, are you making it more complex for your employees to do their jobs? Is the same employee taking orders and running them out to guests? Does it make sense for that employee to carry a mobile device?
Think through how the technology will make your restaurant experience better. Consider In-N-Out Burger. Notorious for long drive-thru lines, the company deployed mobile POS for line busting and now it is taking orders ten cars back from the window. Those customers will have a better experience, and are likely to visit more often because they did not have to wait so long. In this era of social sharing, using technology to alleviate customer headaches and improve experiences should be ROI enough for any restaurateur.
Mobile has been selected by operators as the technology with greatest future impact. Looking ahead, as mobile becomes table stakes, what will restaurants need to do with mPOS strategies to differentiate?
ARTIZ: Restaurants must find ways to stay competitive, and technology such as kiosks for playing games and paying at the table can make or break you. Ultimately, when mobile POS is done right, it makes customers happy. Using mobile devices to improve customer experiences should be the most important consideration, but that doesn’t always mean a waiter with an iPad. The beauty of mobile POS is its diversity and the new and exciting configurations that keep customers coming back.