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How To Select The Right Mobile Payment System For Your Restaurant

A mobile payment system can improve the efficiency of your staff, expedite customer checkout, and even boost average order value. Yet with so many different mobile payment providers, it can be tough to decipher the features that you truly need from those that are "nice to have" - but aren't cost justified. Here's a quick look at the mobile payment systems that exist, and how to tell which will be the best fit for your restaurant.

What is your current process?

If you have an existing point of sale system to manage inventory and share information between the front and back of house, confirm that the mobile payment systems you consider will sync with your existing POS equipment. Additionally, consider current customer behavior and how it may change or evolve once you incorporate mobile payments into your business model.

If customers currently call to place orders over the phone and pay when they arrive to pick up their food, select a mobile payment system that integrates with your website and allows customers to pay securely online. The functionality is simple to implement into your website by copying and pasting a bit of HTML code provided by the mobile payment processor, but may mean the difference between a satisfied customer who is served quickly when she picks up her food, and orders that are placed and prepared - but not retrieved and paid for.

If most of your customers dine in or grab a quick bite to eat on the go, a basic mobile payment system that turns the smartphone or tablet device of every member of your staff into a point of sale terminal may provide an ideal customer experience.

Do you want to offer a rewards program?

Rewards programs can be the reason that customers choose your establishment day after day - but only if they're able to see how much they've earned, and redeem their rewards for discounts or merchandise with ease, when and how they want. Many mobile payment systems integrate with loyalty reward programs to make earning and redemption at the point of sale seamless. If you currently have a program in place or you think that your restaurant could benefit from a loyalty program, choose a mobile payment system that includes loyalty program integration.

What does your competition offer?

Your mobile payment system should equip your restaurant to provide the same amount of convenience that competitors give to customers at the point of sale - regardless of how different your restaurants may be in terms of brand awareness or resources. If you own a coffee shop that's near a Starbucks, for example, your mobile payment system should offer customers the ability to automatically earn rewards for purchases - and to pay from a mobile device, without a physical card, just as Starbucks does.

However, if your direct competitors are other food trucks, a mobile payment system that simply allows the customer to check out with the swipe of a card, add a tip, and receive an email receipt may be all you need to stay competitive at the point of sale.

How does technology affect your ideal customer?

The "right" mobile payment system for your restaurant is as much about your operational needs as it is about the behavior and habits of your customers. Consider how customers currently find out about your restaurant, and how active they may be with social media and apps related to dining out. If customers find your restaurant on dining apps like Open Table, Cover or Reserve, for example, consider a mobile payment system that integrates with the technology they already use to streamline their reservation and checkout process.

Mobile payment systems can eliminate costs and improve your potential revenue and profitability, but not all systems are created equally - and not all are the ideal fit for every restaurant. Consider your current processes, the goals you hope to achieve with your mobile payment system, and the behavior of your customers to determine which mobile payment system will work for your business.

Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm based in Naperville, Illinois. She has more than 20 years experience in the bankcard industry in marketing, direct sales and sales management. Click here to follow her on Twitter.

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