What Does Omnichannel Mean to Me as a Restaurateur?

By: Ellen Cunningham

5 Minute Read

May 08, 2018

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omnichannel restaurant

In the business world, new buzzwords are thrown around all the time.

A big one over the past few years has been “omnichannel” - literally "multiple channels."

Omnichannel refers to ensuring that your customers are able to make purchases or get assistance using multiple methods, and that all methods are seamless and consistent.

For example, some customers may start shopping by doing research on their mobile phone, switch to their laptop, and then go to a physical store to actually complete the purchase.

Read on for some of the ways "omnichannel" is impacting your restaurant's sales right now.

Omnichannel in Restaurants

Omnichannel is just as applicable to restaurants as it is for any other kind of business.

For restaurants, a common situation is one in which a customer places a takeout order online and pays when they pick up the food. In both of these cases, an effective omnichannel solution would offer consistent branding and solid “communication” between the business’ multiple presences. After all, your customer will not be happy if they place an order online and your restaurant doesn’t see it in a timely manner.

Omnichannel also includes how your customers pay – cash, credit cards in person, credit cards online, etc. An omnichannel payment processing solution allows you to accept payments in multiple ways through one provider company rather than many separate companies.

For example, say you accept takeout orders online and customers pay when they place their order or in-person for quick-serve or sit-down customers. This means you would use one payment processor to handle both types of sale. Note that it’s not strictly necessary to have one processor: you could choose a processor for your in-person sales and a processor for your online/takeout sales - but that complicates things (including your bottom line).

Let’s look at the pros and cons of a restaurant omnichannel payment solution using one credit card processing company.

Payment Channels

There are many different payment “channels.” As a restaurant owner, your customers may pay in a variety of ways, such as:

  • In person (for sit-down and quick serve restaurants).
  • Online (for takeout or delivery).
  • Over the phone (for takeout or delivery).
  • In person via your delivery staff carrying a mobile reader.
  • Via mobile payment or in-app ordering.
  • On a kiosk with their credit card.

Hospitality Technology reports that at the end of 2015, approximately half of restaurant apps could accept orders. This number is expected to grow as more companies step in to offer seamless in-app ordering and payments.

When considering which payment channels to offer, think about what matters most to your specific clientele. If your business is a sit-down restaurant that accepts few or no takeout orders, you won’t need a full online payment solution. On the other hand, if a lot of your business is delivery or takeout, it may be worthwhile to offer online or even mobile app payments.

You could also look into kiosks or tablet payment processing, which can help your bottom line.

Benefits of Using One Processor

The biggest benefit to a true omnichannel payment solution with one credit card processor is simplicity – you’ll have one point of contact for customer service or technical assistance, and it will be easier to review reports as they’ll be in the same format.

Some processing companies can even offer consolidated reporting, showing your totals for all payment channels in one report while allowing it to be broken out by channel if necessary.

Drawbacks of Using One Processor CTA

For the average restaurant, there aren’t many drawbacks to utilizing one processor for all of your payment methods.

The main consideration is whether the processor truly offers all of the features you need and want, or if you’ll have to compromise on some functionality.

For example, some processors may technically support online payments, but not offer options for other features like delivery tracking to make it easier to manage the delivery side of your restaurant sales.

Some business owners feel more comfortable having two processors in case something goes wrong with one. However, this is purely a decision based on your level of trust in and comfort with your processor and isn’t necessary. It isn’t likely to provide much benefit and the secondary processor may still charge monthly fees for an account you’re not even using regularly.

If you work with only one processor, it can be a good idea to have separate merchant accounts for online and in-person sales as it can result in better pricing and a more accurate risk profile.

Credit Card Processors and POS Companies

Of course, even if you have one payment processor handling your sales, you may still need to work with a second company (a POS provider) unless you choose an all-in-one integrated processing solution. Either method can be a fit for your business, but remember that the more companies involved in your payments, the more possible hoops to jump through when you need assistance.

Conclusion

It’s easy to dismiss omnichannel as another buzzword, but the core concept shouldn’t be ignored. It’s important to ensure that you offer your customers a seamless experience no matter how they get information about your restaurant or how they place orders. A diner paying for takeout on your website should have the same easy, fast experience as a diner paying at the table.

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