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3 ways F&B brands can get ready for “the next normal”

How food and beverage businesses can leverage payments technology to stay ahead.

Rehman Baig  ·  VP, Card Network and Acquiring Relations, Adyen
September 23, 2021
 ·  5 minutes
Woman paying with credit card on a terminal

Almost every face-to-face business today follows a “hybrid” model, offering a mix of both in-store and online experiences. Crucially, this model will persist long after the pandemic fades.

That’s because customers have been conditioned to expect seamless omnichannel experiences. In the US,50% of consumerswant pandemic conveniences like fast, free delivery to continue – while a third wish to be able to purchase the same products online and in-store. At the same time, customers have more choices, making them more fickle than ever.

50% of US consumers expect pandemic conveniences like fast, free delivery to continue

These high expectations create challenges, to say the least. But they also represent opportunities for businesses that understand how to strategically leverage technology to meet them and thus, win customer loyalty.

Navigating this “next normal” was the focus for our panel at MURTEC 2021, in which I had the honor to participate alongside thought leaders from Fortinet, Inc., Cheetah Digital, and Hospitality Technology. Here are three key learnings from our discussion.

Woman setting up terminal in restaurant

1. When it comes to tech investments, focus on the core outcome

It’s always worth remembering technology is an investment – one that should get a return in the form of richer and more consistent customer experiences, with the goal of driving customer loyalty and increasing revenue. But the proliferation of channels over the past year means F&B businesses risk losing their core focus of delivering a premier brand experience.

“The technology doesn’t impress anybody. It’s what you do with it, the experiences you create.”

Courtney RadkeChief Information Security Officer of National Retail at Fortinet

Doubling down on the channels that provide the most ROI, instead of falling into a “keeping up with the Joneses” trap, can help guide your investments. And while individual nuances apply, QR codes and app-driven loyalty are two channels we feel are worth focusing on for F&B.

There’s no doubtQR codes are changing the touch-free payments experiencefor the better. But one more point F&B businesses should consider is how QR codes can also assist with third-party partnerships, which have become essential for thriving in the digital ecosystem.

As for mobile apps, smartphone ubiquity means they’re critical for keeping customers engaged with loyalty programs. That’s why Adyen offers the ability tolink payment cards to loyalty programs, so customers can easily earn their rewards while businesses gain valuable data..

Woman ordering an kiosk in restaurant

2. Data is the key to what customers want – personalization

Personalization has become a buzzword for a reason. The more individualized a customer journey, the more effective it is. Tech giants like Google and Amazon have trained customers to expect personalized experiences. Even brick-and-mortar businesses must understand how to push themselves in that direction.

But “earn and burn” mass rewards and discounts are features of the past, not the future. A good goal is to create “intelligent offers,” where rewards and incentives are personalized to engineer behavioral change at a one-to-one level. To achieve this, data is the key – specifically, the ability to turn raw customer data into actionable insights.

It’s not about the quantity of data you collect, but rather whether you can collect and effectively analyze it. This is why Adyen’s payment solutions, from POS terminals to online payments, allow businesses to connect all payment data to a single platform they can leverage to capture rich insights and deliver personalized omnichannel experiences. We call itunified commerce.

Analyzing this data might even force businesses to fundamentally rethink their customer journeys. Considering that40% of US consumersreported switching brands in 2020 (double the rate of 2019), this behavioral shift means what F&B brands considered to be their target customer might be quite different today. There may be hidden gems to uncover, which can only be found by sifting through the data.

Woman paying with credit card at restaurant

3. Don’t let data privacy and security become a tail risk

As businesses rush forward in the technology race, they must also remember to protect themselves. Neglecting data privacy and security may not have any immediate consequences, but can quickly spiral down the line. In fact, cybersecurity firm Kroll estimated that the F&B industry saw a545% increase in data breach notifications in 2020(albeit from a very low base).

Consumers have also increased expectations regarding data privacy and security. This has led to what panelist Kevin Sanders, Industry Solutions Director for Restaurants at Cheetah Digital, terms the “data paradox.” Consumers want more personalization, but at the same time, they also demand greater transparency and control over their data.

Consumers want personalization – with more transparency and control over their data.

This puts the onus on businesses to become good data stewards. Safeguarding data privacy and security must be a core tenet of a business, not just a slapped-on afterthought. Creating a strong foundation in this regard is also a form of future-proofing. Stricter data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA are already here, with more on the way.

As such, businesses should be very careful when selecting their tech partners. A breach on the partners’ end may be no fault of the business, but it could still have reputational impacts on them. Businesses should understand how their partners are managing their data and consider implementing vendor audit processes to ensure data privacy and security are maintained.

As a payment provider, Adyen takes our responsibility toward our merchant partners very seriously. Using the latest strategies like encryption and tokenization allows us to handle our partners’ datain a compliant, safe, and scalable manner.

How will you turn challenge into opportunity?

The pandemic’s grip on our way of life may be receding, but the consumer landscape has been permanently altered. F&B businesses must now contend with a warier, more fickle consumer in an environment made even more competitive thanks to digitalization.

At Adyen, our solutions can do so much more than just help your customers pay you. We can also help drive loyalty, gather insights, and grow your business. Let us support you in turning today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities.Contact usto learn more.

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