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Pay-at-the-Table: 7 Things to Consider

December 8, 2017

In the EMV world, it is always best practice for cards to never leave the customers sight during transactions.

Payment experiences are rapidly changing in the United States. With the 2015 Liability Shift pushing EMV to the forefront, restaurants across the country have been stepping it up to grab hold of the latest payment upgrades and technology. With fraud becoming more and more prevalent, even with the introduction of chip cards into the payment ecosystem, more and more innovations are coming out to better security for merchants and customers alike.

Tableside ordering or pay-at-the-table is one of the latest in payment technological advancements, especially those aimed at cutting down on fraud. In the EMV world, it is always best practice for cards to never leave the customers sight during transactions – which is exactly what tableside ordering intends to eliminate.

There are many other benefits to implementing tableside payment for restaurants. Not only does it create better security by bringing the point-of-sale to the customer, it helps boost revenue and increase table turn rates. There is no doubt that pay-at-the-table is increasing in popularity, with strong predictions that it will becoming a predominant payment method throughout the hospitality industry all through 2018.

For merchants that are looking into tableside ordering and payment, here are a few tips for smoothing the transition:

1. Offer Split Check: One of the perks of pay-at-the-table solutions is that it creates convenience for customers who are eating at a restaurant or food establishment. It is common for groups of people dining at a restaurant to want to split a check and pay with more than one card. Having the option to split check and accept multiple cards for payment on one order creates another layer of convenience for customers.

2. Easy Tip Calculation: Calculating tips can be a lot more difficult for customers than it may seem. People are more busy these days, with more things to do and places to be, meaning they are likely to have a harder time concentrating on calculating a tip while trying to get out of the door. Pay-at-the-table POS can simplify tipping by offering percentages and suggested amounts. This does more than create convenience for the customer, it also improves the likelihood of servers being tipped fairly. It also helps increase turnover rates.

3. Contact and Contactless: It is important to ensure that the device is certified for both contact and contactless payments. EMV contactless follows EMV rollouts, usually within the year. Merchants need to make sure their devices support both, or an upgrade will likely be needed.

4. Get a Warranty: Owners and managers of restaurants know how messy things tend to get. If the merchant owns an operation that has outdoor seating areas or extremely high volume, they need to prepare for lower life expectancy for their devices. Looking for a strong warranty, along with cleaning the devices, will protect them incase anything happens and stretch their devices life out longer.

5. Consider Size: A restaurant owner needs to determine how big or small their operation is in the present and how much they expect to grow. Larger operations may need multiple devices while small spots may only need one or two.

6. Mag Stripe Option: Giving customers the option to use mag stripe is important. Merchants should absolutely upgrade to EMV, especially to avoid fraudulent chargeback fees. However, even though EMV is becoming more popular, many people still pay with mag stripe cards. An Ingenico survey found that many consumers have still yet to receive a chip card.

7. Train Servers: Merchants need to make sure that servers are aware of how the pay-at-the-table devices work. On top of that, they need to teach servers and wait staff how to educate customers. If customers have questions or concerns, it is good to go with devices that are easy to use and pick-up. Servers should also be taught to tell customers about the safety of pay-at-the-table solutions.

The rising popularity and implementation of pay-at-the-table solutions is definitely not to be ignored. With more and more customers expecting convenience and safety when they pay for their food, it is in restaurant owner’s best interests to meet those demands. While the decision of how exactly to integrate that technology is personal and specific to each restaurant, successful owners and operators will need to rely on these tips above and research before and during the implementation of these solutions.

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