Digitalizing the customer experience

Thomas Helldorff | VP Airlines Travel and Hospitality, Worldpay from FIS

April 06, 2022

The COVID pandemic has brought new uncertainty for the hospitality industry with each new wave of the virus.

But restaurateurs have remained resilient. Enhanced investment in digital has helped to minimize pandemic disruption. And digitization has also helped to improve the customer experience, which could have long-lasting benefits for restaurants as the restrictions ease.

Lessons learned from the first wave

When COVID-19 first hit, restaurants had to respond fast and adapt their business models to a physically distanced world. 1 Many found unique and creative ways to transform their operations, often adopting new payment methods.2

Government-mandated shutdowns and consumer concerns meant attitudes to payments changed quickly. Restaurants had to look beyond the traditional dine-in or pay-at-counter model and focus on payments and services that are digital, convenient and contactless1.

The need to reduce physical touch points created a shift in payment acceptance, accelerating the adoption of digital wallets and contactless payments while also hastening the decline of cash at the POS. In the UK, 56% of people said they are happier to use a contactless card now than before the pandemic, and 71% are using less cash with 44% saying they would go at least a month without using it3.

Embracing e-commerce

Truly, e-commerce became something of a lifeline in an economy disrupted by the need for physical distance. For example, many restaurants created or improved delivery services4.

This growth in e-commerce has impacted payment preferences. By 2024, digital wallets, credit and debit cards will account for 84.5% of e-commerce spend. At the same time, buy now, pay later continues to earn market share, expecting to double in use from 2.1% in 2020 to 4.2% by 20245.

To serve the demand for quick and convenient service, businesses should look to make both digital and physical ordering as fast as possible, using the channels their customers prefer.

How to win with digital

To win in this digital-first world, restaurants must deliver an effective omnichannel experience – from ordering, to settling the bill and beyond. While convenience is one of the main factors consumers are looking for, it’s worth noting that safety and security considerations can impact channel choice6.

Enabling this flexible and connected experience for your customers will require harnessing payments technology in a number of ways. First, restaurants must be able to accept payments in a seamless and frictionless manner – in person, in app, online, over the phone or at a kiosk.

Secondly, restaurants must be able to accept customers’ preferred payment types including APMs, mobile wallets, QR codes and so on. It’s important to make customers aware that you accept their payment type of choice; 73% of people say they would be more likely to place an order if they can see their preferred payment method on a business’s homepage1.

Winning in the digital space means integrating ease of payment acceptance with a wide variety of payment types. To prepare for what’s next, you must develop a payments technology stack that unlocks omnichannel experiences and embraces emerging payment methods.

The future of restaurant payments

Today, safety considerations still impact where and how people spend on food.

Whether your business is directly affected by COVID measures or not, providing customers with convenient, digital experiences and offering as many payment options as possible could help you to attract customers and prepare for the future.

1Worldpay from FIS (2021) Power your payments [Accessed 20/12/21]

2Restaurant Keys (2020) Running Restaurants After COVID-19 Recovery: How Does Contactless Payment Work? [Accessed 20/12/21]

3Bank of England (2020) Cash in the time of Covid [Accessed 20/12/21]

4OECD (2020) E-commerce in the time of COVID-19 [Accessed 20/12/21]

5Worldpay from FIS (2021) The Global Payments Report 2021 [Accessed 20/12/21]

6Worldpay from FIS (2021)Generation Pay [Accessed 20/12/21]