Why F&Bs need to look at unified commerce

By Michel van Aalten

Throughout Australia, and perhaps throughout the world, the F&B industry has changed rather drastically over the last decade. In the past year alone, the pandemic that crippled the world led businesses to adapt and innovate at such a rapid pace in order to survive.

One of the key lessons businesses need to take away is that things will not be going back to the way they were before the pandemic. It may sound cliché by now, but this is the new normal. F&B brands are rethinking their strategies across the business, customer experience and payments, and how to ready their business for the new cross-channel demands that have arisen.

Amidst all the challenges the industry faces today, F&B players should look at a unified commerce approach as the way forward. Why is that?

The new F&B landscape
F&B has transformed from an industry that focuses on in-store to one that now cuts across various online and offline touchpoints including delivery, in-app and in-store kiosk orders.

Even as diners return to restaurants, you’ll see that things have become rather different from pre-COVID days. According to our Agility Report, 57% of Australians said proximity to strangers is their main concern when dining out. Hence, reducing person-to-person interaction via contactless technologies at the stores has never been more important. QR code menus have become the norm in restaurants, and ordering at kiosks is commonplace. Getting dinner via delivery apps, whether third party or offered directly by brands, aren’t just a thing time-starved working millennials do – but a common behaviour across age groups.

COVID-19 has accelerated the digital journeys for many F&B brands but those that pivoted saw online orders promptly picking up.

At the start of 2020, we were in talks with Grill'd – a leading healthy burger brand with nearly 150 outlets across Australia – to enhance the brand's customer experience by optimising their payments strategy. Optimising payments across their online and offline channels helped them to quickly implement new customer journeys and respond to the changing pandemic situation faster than most businesses. With this in place, Grill'd was able to launch its own delivery service just six days after restaurants were ordered to shut down in March as the pandemic took a turn for the worse.

As Caitlin Caldwell, (former) Product Manager at Grill'd, shared, “It’s amazing how we were able to scale so fast having integrated with the Adyen platform just weeks before, and we were able to handle the dramatic increase in volume and transactions on the then-newly introduced online service.”

The new online/offline diner
The pandemic has given consumers the crash course on online shopping, ordering online and paying online. That is something that we have observed across industries.

As seen in many parts of Asia Pacific, the initial ecommerce boom is starting to soften as in-store traffic resumes. What has been interesting though, is that the online momentum is still sustained. Customers have and will continue to shop more frequently online, even with food ordering. It’s why F&B brands need to think unified commerce rather than online or in-store.

The way customers shop is changing, but it’s not about businesses moving from offline to online. It’s about choosing channels that work for them at a particular time or place. You just have to be where your customers are, and they can be online/offline.

Even if customers are in stores, the order and payment processes have changed. Let me give you an example of a pay-at-table experience: a customer enters a store, scans the QR code menu, orders via the browser or in-app, and pays during the same session. Sure, it’s an online payment but the customer is actually just buying in-store – and paying rather seamlessly without going between screens, counters, etc.

The key is not about shifting online or offline, but how do you optimise payments and reduce friction as the line between online and in-store blurs? How do you cater to the new online/offline diner?

Unified commerce brings you to where your customers are
Oftentimes, businesses look at online and offline as disparate business units and teams. But when we put ourselves in the shoes of a customer, it’s clear why we need to think cross-channel.

Imagine it’s nearly dinner and you’re at home, possibly ordering groceries and some essentials online, it’s quite easy for you to open another app on your mobile phone and order a couple of burgers. Then have your current order add to all your previous orders – and redeem a free drink via a loyalty program with your favourite fast-food brand when you visit in-store.

Or maybe another scenario where you’ve just finished working out at the gym, and you’re near a restaurant, so you step inside, order something in-app while you wait at the table so you don’t have to struggle with your gear.

These are some ways your diners could be ordering from you. So, it’s really about making things easy and convenient for your customers who don’t think in terms of online or offline channels, but instead what works for them in an entire unified user journey. Unified commerce brings your business to where your customers are.

A unified commerce approach to business is key in the new F&B landscape, and with customers who choose based on convenience and perhaps safety, having a payments partner like Adyen that understands that is just as important.

How do you keep up with diners’ ever-evolving preferences and demands across all channels with a unified commerce approach? Speak with the Adyen team and find out how you can connect online, in-store, and mobile payments to enable amazing experiences for your customers.

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