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Peter Moore, CEO at Lolly, offers his thoughts on the technology that has really gathered pace…

Over the past 12-18 months, we have seen real progress with the growing integration of self-serve systems into the hospitality and food service industry.

The main players, like McDonalds, and other fast food outlets are now well established when it comes to self-serve. However, there are increasing numbers of smaller quick service, lunch, and fast food outlets effectively implementing self-serve technology into their environments, such as Flipside, a plant-based grab and go restaurant in Smithfield’s London.

Where next?
As it becomes more established, we are looking towards utilising self-serve to not only make real improvments in the customer journey, but also to support developing more efficient, profitable and manageable hospitality businesses.

The industry is facing so many challenges, from staffing shortages, to shrinking high-streets and improving sustainability. Self-serve is one of those technologies which, for many businesses, offers a solution to help them meet those challenges head on, evolve, and flourish in a changing hospitality landscape. Properly implemented, it enables them to stand out, create better levels of customer service and reduce potential wastage.

In the next year or so we will begin to see Pin on Glass (POG) technology come into the payments landscape. This is where merchants can use pre-existing smart devices, such as a mobile phone or tablet, to process in-store payments – as opposed to a standalone terminal.

Integrating and evolving payments
Payments technology progress has been facilitating the uptake of self-serve. Rising numbers of people are moving to faster contactless and mobile payments, with millennials and Gen Z’s showing particular preference for these methods. The more people embrace faster, seamless payments the greater numbers will choose to self-serve.

Later down the line we will also see biometric payments, creating an even more seamless and personalised experience for the user. It’s important to note that legislation still needs to be introduced and there are limitations currently to the introduction of biometric payments, but we would expect these issues to be overcome in the next few years to ensure these methods can be integrated in a secure and simple way.

Optimising the experience – keeping it fast, simple and engaging
Self-serve is already a personal and interactive method of purchasing, but the more people that use this type of service the more we will understand navigation and purchasing patterns. As we move further into the decade AI integrated software will help programmers become smarter and algorithms will make more attractive and user-friendly displays. Customised products and offers can be displayed whilst customers browse and menus can be displayed with custom allergen information, creating safer and speedier dining. Keeping things simple, fast and engaging is what self-serve is all about.

For businesses, knowing purchasing patterns and customer preferences not only helps them generate a more engaging experience for individuals, but it also encourages repeat business, creates smarter, more flexible menus – improving stock control and reducing wastage.

Menu boards, displays and dining promotions can be tailored and visuals linked between self-serve displays and main menu boards. Products that are hard to make or not popular can be automatically digitally removed from display during peak periods to streamline menus, reduce waste and save time for staff – ultimately increasing footfall and revenues.

Ensuring stability
Self-serve will never be right for all hospitality environments. Business owners need to examine their customers and the environment, do the calculations and work out whether it’s right for them.

When choosing to implement self-serve it’s crucial to find a company that works with your business, looking at personal needs and demands. Providers should have recovery systems and a fail-safe in case of potential issues. When all the ordering is done via self-serve there is no person to remember the order if the process goes wrong or shuts off. Back-ups are essential.

As self-serve integration into our hospitality landscape gathers pace, so too does the understanding of how this technology can benefit both customers and business owners, enabling them to embrace the benefits that self-serve brings.

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