Restaurateurs and coffee-shop owners across the country can get a wealth of data on their customers’ buying habits, thanks to an innovative new system from payment services provider Elavon.
Called talechTM, it turns iPads into a complete point-of-sale solution for small businesses. As well as processing payments tableside, it enables restaurateurs to organise table plans; take, manage and print orders; track inventory and even manage staff rotas. It also provides invaluable sales information such as which menu items are selling and which are not, helping to reduce waste.
“Elavon is our preferred card payments partner at the Restaurants Association of Ireland and members who have used the talechTM system have found it extremely beneficial and user friendly,” says RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins, who believes it provides small businesses with the kind of management information systems reporting that large businesses have traditionally enjoyed.
“It provides information in relation to everything from costs to accounts,” says Cummins. “If you’ve a menu with 20 items on it, how fantastic is it to have a system that tells you who is buying what, from a stock control point of view alone - ensuring no stock goes to waste.”
Stock control is a major issue for restaurants because waste is money down the drain, he said. “You may as well burn your cash as waste food. In this sector, every cent counts so it’s very important to keep tight stock controls in place, and that also means knowing the margin on each menu item.”
talechTM provides owners with real-time information across a range of metrics. As such, it enables the kind of dynamic approach that can help keep costs low. “The price of raw materials might fluctuate, but your menu price might stay the same, costing you money. Chefs need to be accountants as much as they need to be able to cook these days,” he says.
“The other strength of talechTM is that you don’t have to buy a massive piece of kit, there’s no capital investment required, it’s just an app on an iPad.” Available as a cloud-based software as a service, talechTM costs from €49.99 a month to use.
It is particularly useful given that the consumer migration to card payments is now gathering pace. For restaurateurs the benefits of not having to handle costly cash are evident. But what talechTM does is bring added value to card payments.
“Hospitality is a sector in which Elavon excels. The volume of transactions we handle as a result enables us to offer the sector some great insights into trends in the sector,” said Eric Horgan, country manager Ireland at Elavon.
One of the trends Elavon has identified is that in 2016, some 21 per cent of all card payment spend in restaurants was made by foreign card holders. “It’s the fastest-growing sector we are seeing, which tallies with overall growth in tourism numbers here, up 12 per cent last year,” said Horgan.
Elavon is a launch partner of Apple Pay in the US and UK, and as soon as that launches in Ireland, the company will be able to provide that service here, too.
Domestic usage of card payments in restaurants grew too, particularly for transactions of less than €30, up 18 per cent, driven by increased adoption of 'tap and go' contactless payments. “Part of the advantage that brings to a sector like hospitality is that it helps reduce queuing, enabling customers to pay more quickly,” said Horgan.
In November, Android Pay launched in Ireland, and already Elavon estimates it has around 30,000 Irish users tapping to pay with their Android devices. Elavon is a launch partner of Apple Pay in the US and UK, and as soon as that launches in Ireland, the company will be able to provide that service here too, "so we're expecting further growth as cash is displaced", said Horgan.
“talechTM, as a point-of-sale device, turns an iPad into a payment terminal, but then adds so much more, providing information about each sale, giving business owners rich data about who is spending, on what and at what times. It enables restaurants to see what is selling and what to take off the menu, rather than being just a payments terminal, it adds a lot of value.”
There are additional benefits too, including the speed at which a customer’s payment hits the restaurateur’s bank account. “Traditionally there has always been a two- or three-day lag before money hits the business owner’s account, with Elavon we deliver same or next day payments,” said Horgan. With cashflow being the lifeblood of small business, anything that speeds up payments is welcome. “It’s the first thing many restaurateurs look for,” he says.
Elavon also offers a Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) service, that last year helped it win a Lafferty Global Award for excellence in merchant services.
What DCC does is enable foreign card holders to pay in their home currency, “which is good for the cardholder as they know the final price as they pay. It is good for the restaurateurs, as they get a rebate,” said Horgan.
As technology continues to change the way restaurateurs manage their business the hospitality industry is finding new, profitable ways to mine real value from their customer data. The ability to discover insights in real-time from anywhere using talechTM’s technology is an increasingly important tool at a time when consumers themselves are changing their payment habits, particularly around their use of mobile payment technologies.
To find out more about this and to see talech and the latest card machines in action visit the Elavon stand J11/12 at Catex in the RDS on 21-23 February.
Elavon Financial Services DAC, trading as Elavon Merchant Services, is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.