Business and Operations
Road to cashless payment
By Colleen Cross
How close to going cashless is your pizzeria? Unless you’ve been hiding under the till for the last 20 years, you’ll have noticed the slow but sure shift from cash to cashless forms of payment in this country. One veteran pizzeria operator told us he saw a tipping point last fall when his cash take for one evening consisted of $20, a small fraction of his sales.
The growth of cashless payment is affecting most, if not all, bricks-and-mortar retail and service businesses. Giving customers greater choice in how they pay encourages the impulse-buying urge that benefits all merchants.
Canadians are steadily moving away from cash as a preferred form of payment. A survey this spring by Payments Canada found half of Canadians are ready to get rid of banknotes and coins. Two-thirds of respondents said they are ready to say goodbye to personal cheques.
Often, we take our cues from the United States, where much of the technology and many products originate. In other ways, we are ahead of the U.S. and other countries in our innovations and adoption of new forms of payment. This is the case with our relatively easy access to debit payment through the Interac system set up by our banks decades ago. It has made payment by bank card relatively common and convenient.
The big three cashless payment options are debit, credit and smartphone wallets but there are a lot of options out there. “Contactless” payment options such as MasterCard Pay Pass, Interac Flash, Android Pay and ApplePay – collectively referred to as near field communications, or NFC – appear to be overtaking the traditional swipe card as the most popular form.
But there are other forms of payment to watch such as bitcoin, fingerprint recognition and barter. Innovations like these – often called “disruptors” – may be good, bad or temporary, but they shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, as Jim Chliboyko’s feature story helps illustrate, the time may be right to give them a try.
Some operators are testing and committing to new payment technology, and it’s a step worth considering.
There has been a flood of information in the media about advancements in technology, much of it laced with jargon. It’s important not to be overwhelmed by its sheer volume. Instead, use these frequent announcements of hardware and technology options as an invitation to ask lots of questions and make comparisons.
We should remember that, although cashless payment is driven by technology, that technology was developed in the service of convenience. The pizza industry, with its emphasis on delivery, makes convenience a priority.
If you aren’t already doing so, it may be time to do some long-term planning for your pizzeria. Think about who your customers are, how old they are and what their lives are like. Consider their technology needs and habits.
Investing in any technology – new payment hardware, a POS system, online payment acceptance, a digital menu board, virtual staff scenario training (yes, it’s a thing) – is a big step. But if you decide to take it, you may be pleasantly surprised by the possibilities it opens up when customers get convenient options, better service and a good reason to return to your pizzeria.
On that note, make sure you take time out from taking care of your customers to enjoy the little moments with family
and friends that mean so much.