The Professional's Voice

Technology partnerships have to be mutually beneficial

According to the latest data from the Statista web portal, there are over two and a half million apps available from Google Play and the Apple App Store – and it sometimes feels like each one has been in contact with me when they call our office asking to link up and integrate with our hospitality management solutions. I am sure many hospitality operators are similarly inundated with cold calls from app producers wanting to sell to them as the mobile digital revolution gains even more momentum.

Clearly identified, achievable long term strategic goals

Of course, it is flattering to attract so much attention thanks to our reputation as a market leading hospitality technology provider.  However, we have to be highly selective about third-party relationships. Our rule of thumb is that we will only ever enter into discussions with proven, trusted partners with clearly identified, achievable long term strategic goals.  Our criteria for making such decisions is pretty straightforward: will integration mutually benefit our clients and their end users in an industry that is understandably unwilling to take unnecessary risks?

After all, reputations that take a lifetime to establish can be lost overnight.  We started out in business at IBS in 1991, the same year jeweller Gerard Ratner told 5,000 business leaders at an Institute of Directors conference in the Royal Albert Hall that his products were ‘total crap’ and instantly wiped £500m of a business that had 2,000 stores, employed 25,000 staff and had annual sales of £1.2bn.  “Doing a Ratner” is synonymous with corporate blunders (even though in his defence Gerald now runs a successful online jewellery business worth, according to the Daily Mail, £35m).  One of the equivalents nowadays would be adopting embryonic mobile technology before it is ready.

Market leaders with proven popular products

At IBS, we currently link our cloud-based POSLink and StockLink software to a dozen or so carefully selected partners. These range from payment tools like PayPal and Verifone to booking services such as LiveRES and ResDiary and labour management like S4 Labour.  Although their applications and online offerings cover a wide range of different hospitality functions, all are united by the fact that they are highly respected market leaders with proven popular products.

For example, LiveRES announced in October that it passed the million-booking mark six months earlier this year than last and Managing Director Samantha Grocutt is expecting to double the number of bookings the online booking system handles as more and more pubs and restaurants appreciate the benefits of online reservations systems. According to Rob Harper, Head of Retail Services at PayPal UK, PayPal is on track to process more than 1bn global mobile transactions in 2014. PayPal, under Rob’s direction, is making great inroads into high street stores and restaurants as an increasing number of customers choose to pay with their ever-present smartphone, possibly marking the beginning of the end of the wallet in the high street.

 All transactions automatically recorded

Partnering with the likes of LiveRES, PayPal and S4 Labour is a logical process for us at IBS as it allows seamless integration between lots of different platform providers. This widens the options for our clients to improve the service and value they offer their customers.  All the transactions carried out on their apps and solutions are automatically recorded on EPOS and hospitality management systems and are available for immediate analysis.

One of the benefits of the mobile revolution is the fact hardly any of us are entering into exclusive either/or partnerships.  We’ll work with platform leaders operating in the same areas such as mobile payments and online bookings because it benefits ours clients and their end users to do so.

A fast alternative payment option

The evolution of our relationship with PayPal demonstrates how hospitality integration partnerships should work. Together, we’ve introduced PayPal’s smartphone app to our clients like Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), Revolution and Vital Ingredient. Now, thanks to the PayPal smartphone app, our clients can give their customers a fast alternative payment option. They can also take advantage of a host of other existing and future benefits such as loyalty, ordering, rewards, coupons and table booking functions.

GBK has integrated PayPal’s Picture Payment technology, although there are many payment experiences available via the PayPal application, including Pay At Table and Order Ahead. With Picture Payments, the customer checks in to a GBK restaurant via their PayPal app and shares their profile picture and name with the tills at that location. Once the sale is agreed, payment is taken by simply clicking on the profile picture. A notification will pop up in the PayPal app to confirm the payment is complete and they are then checked out of that location. The customer also receives the usual email receipt from PayPal and a printed receipt at the counter as confirmation of the transaction.

Only the start of the mobile payments revolution

It’s a really simple and smooth process. Gourmet Burger Kitchen marketing director Katie McDermott says “with counter service at GBK, the facility for customers to check in and pay with their PayPal profile picture has made the transaction faster and easier and we’ve got to know more of our customers by name!” Not only can customers pay faster with less waiting time but GBK can also engage on a much more personal basis with them.

This is only the start of the mobile payments revolution. We will continue to work closely with PayPal, and all our other integration partners, to combine their apps and systems with our hospitality management solution. After all, there is only one real secret behind the successful adoption and evolution of technology and that’s the drive to constantly seek ways of adding value for our clients and their end users.

ENDS

Gareth Powell is managing director of Intelligent Business Systems (www.ibs-systems.co.uk). He is one of the most experienced faces in the EPOS industry. He’s previously worked with Pizza Express and Pret A Manger – and currently works with the likes of Bath Ales, Brakspear, EAT, Franco Manca, GBK, Harry Ramsden’s, Mark Warner, Patisserie Valerie, Peach Pub Co, Pod, Revolution, Spudulike and Vital Ingredient.  IBS provides multi-channel, cloud-based EPOS-driven solutions, including front of house and back office management tools and online shopping, CRM, loyalty and room-booking add-on options.

 

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