As digital technologies become increasingly advanced, new opportunities are emerging to connect previously disparate ecosystems within unified payment systems and consumer-facing platforms. Noting an opening, restaurant commerce platform GoTab announced Monday (Aug. 22) the launch of GoTab for Multi-Operator Locations, through which venues such as food halls and sporting arenas can process each food seller’s transactions through a single platform, streamlining payouts and simplifying the consumer payment experience.
In an interview with PYMNTS, GoTab CEO and Founder Tim McLaughlin explained that one surprising hurdle to adoption has been changing potential customers’ mindsets, getting them to believe that payments can be automatic when venues are so accustomed to their labor-intensive old systems.
“Nobody else does it. Like, one thing that we’ve learned as we’ve sold our first couple of customers on it, is that we had a hard time conveying to them that, ‘No, the system does it all automatically. You don’t have to hire an accountant,’” McLaughlin said. “The hard part is just getting people realize it can be automatic.”
He explained that where once multi-operator locations such as food halls and live event venues would have a full-time accountant calculating operator payouts, venue commissions, how to manage refunds and more, the technology automatically makes these calculations and sends out these payments every day.
Bringing It All Together
Certainly, there is a demand among businesses for time-saving technologies that unify would-be disparate transactions. Research from PYMNTS’ study The AP/AR Quick-Start Guide: How All-In-One Payment Platforms Can Transform B2B Transactions, created in collaboration with Plastiq, which draws from a survey of 500 small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across a variety of sectors and company sizes, finds that 90% of these businesses using an all-in-one payment solution do so because it is convenient and saves time.
Read the Report: The AP/AR Quick-Start Guide
Plus, McLaughlin argued that the point of sale (POS) system also improves consumers’ experiences, enabling them to purchase from all the vendors through one system, such that they can put together an order with all the items they want and pay for it all at once rather than having to buy from every vendor separately.
Moreover, he explained that the technology could calculate when orders should be sent out to optimize for both operational efficiency and the customer experience rather than simply taking every order on a “first in, first out” basis.
Because the technology processes transaction data from all the vendors in the venue, it can identify synergies that would have been impossible had each vendor’s data been siloed in a separate system.
“We do some of that right now,” said McLaughlin. “We’ll cross recommend things.”
Additionally, he noted that the technology has a “dynamic routing” feature by which, if a consumer wants a certain kind of food, say a hot dog, and multiple vendors in the venue sell that food, the POS will rout the order to the closest vendor with the ability to fulfill it.
The product also predicts demand, such that vendors can get ahead of their busy periods and begin preparing food in advance if they expect a rush of orders for a given menu item.
Fear of the Future
As McLaughlin sees it, multi-vendor locations’ payments have not evolved as much as one might expect since March 2020. He explained that, amid staffing challenges, many operators are focused more on getting through the present rather than on making future-minded, system-wide tech upgrades.
“Because they’re underwater, they’re falling back to old technologies and old ways,” he said. “So it’s like a double whammy: one is, they’re understaffed, and they’re using tech. They’re basically using outdated 1990s technology.”
As such, as they attempt to weather their labor challenges, he contended, many of these businesses are closing themselves off to solutions that could help mitigate these same difficulties.
He attributes this resistance to operators’ previous bad experiences with POS upgrades, involving “many explosions” over periods of “months and months.”
“The reality is that that perspective is outdated. … We deploy a POS terminal in about 10 seconds—you type the code into it, you install an app, and it’s provisioned. That’s it,” he said. “That’s hard for them to wrap their head around. … They [think] it couldn’t possibly be that easy. It’s always going to be really hard.”