It was back in March that restaurants and bars were ordered to shut by the UK government to help halt the spread of coronavirus. However, after weeks of shut doors and takeaway orders, hospitality venues are now due to reopen to customers in July, providing they can enforce social distancing measures and keep their customers and staff safe.
Keeping customers safe from an invisible virus requires both staff and customers to take a considerable amount of extra care during service. And even after ensuring there’s plenty of space between customers, and staff are following the appropriate hygiene procedures, there’s still measures hospitality venues can take to ensure optimal cleanliness and maintain the positive customer experience.
The importance of contactless and APMs in a post-COVID norm
Consumers expect contactless payments to not only be an option but a first-choice method of payment. Have you considered the importance of ensuring you are prepared to accept contactless or alternative payment methods (APMs)? Doing so ensures your staff members and customers don’t need to handle cash, which can act as an infection vector. But of course, providing a variety of payment methods doesn’t just come down to preventing the spread of COVID-19, but the need to deliver excellence within the hospitality industry.
And the fact is, hospitality is evolving due to the rise of home delivery services, which has been particularly utilised during this pandemic. Venues that have never offered delivery before are now utilising services such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo or have implemented Click and Collect so that their restaurant can still be used to serve takeaway and delivery. But to make the most of these offerings and offer the best, most successful service for their customers, they need to have the right technology in place
Because when it comes to payments, customers have gradually been shifting away from cash and towards contactless payments anyway – COVID-19 has simply accelerated this move. This is because, due to the convenience of online payments, same-day delivery and 4G making sure anyone can make a payment on their smartphone absolutely anywhere, consumers are continuing to demand quicker and more convenient ways to pay.
However, the good news is you don’t need to know it all. By partnering with a payments provider with years of experience in delivering fully managed in-store, mobile and omnichannel payment solutions, that are secure, scalable and reliable, you can offload the task of catering to all your customers in the way that suits them best.
Contactless to remain contactless
Any merchant who wasn’t already onboard the contactless train before the pandemic should think about getting on now. This payment method has gained increasing popularity since its introduction. In fact, research by Trade Association UK Finance has found that 1 in 3 transactions in the UK are now made by contactless, with 82 million of 99 million debit cards currently in circulation having contactless functionality. That’s a third of all payments in the UK, with debit and credit cards now a more popular payment method than cash. And as customers demand smarter, more integrated solutions all the time, the benefits of providing contactless will continue long after the risk from COVID-19 is gone.
Another method worth bearing in mind is an integrated mobile omnichannel solution. By equipping waiting staff with smart connected handsets, this will enable them to better respond to queries, take payments anywhere, and identify the consumer wherever they are in the sales journey to provide a gateway to loyalty programmes and their benefits.
By introducing connected handsets, merchants can enable customers to order without even needing to interact with waiting staff, providing even further protection for customers and staff as hospitality services reopen post-lockdown.
How Ingenico Enterprise Retail can help
But to make the most of these benefits, merchants need a smart, flexible, easy-to-use device. Ingenico’s range of solutions remove the need for queues and give servers the mobility and connectivity they need to provide a truly omnichannel experience that enables diners to order, dine and make payments without ever putting other customers or their servers at risk. As well as this, Ingenico solutions uphold PCI and the latest payment industry standards, with secure connectivity to provide stability and scalability for all your hospitality needs long after the risk of COVID-19 is gone.
To learn more about how Ingenico Enterprise Retail can help your business reopen post-lockdown, visit www.ingenico.co.uk/omnichannel.
Mark Walker is Head of Sales at Ingenico Enterprise Retail (UK & Nordics) at Ingenico Group. In his position, he oversees sales strategy across the UK and Nordics to deliver prime payment solutions to retailers, helping them grow their businesses. Prior to Ingenico, Mark worked at BT Group plc as Head of Sales within the Enterprise division, looking after the FTSE350 Major Corporate clients responsible for the IT Services portfolio which enabled infrastructure/security/applications to help businesses streamline and grow their operations.