Restaurants Find their Place in an Omnichannel World

For 50 years, consumers have been walking into stores and handing over a credit card. It takes time to change that ingrained behavior.
— Brandon Lloyd, Bypass CEO

Restaurateurs know that the industry is ripe for technological innovations and improvements, but bridging digital and physical spaces hasn’t been a priority until recently. Now, stories come out weekly of software and tech entering the restaurant vertical such as GrubHub’s recent acquisition of mobile ordering and payments platform LevelUp. And with major players like Panera and Starbucks each bringing in 30 percent of their customers through digital channels, the question for weaving digital channels into the restaurant experience (whether through apps, online ordering, or loyalty programs) has become “how” and not “if.”

However, “this isn’t just about switching out some older POS systems for something new,” said Bypass CEO Brandon Lloyd in a wide-ranging interview with PYMNTS. “This is about rebuilding the infrastructure and ‘piping’ that undergirds these systems so that they function differently than they do today.”

Though Panera and Starbucks invested decades and tens of millions into seamlessly integrating digital into their business, a successful omnichannel strategy isn’t out of reach for medium or even small brands—it just won’t happen overnight.

Until recently, legacy point-of-sale systems made it difficult for restaurants to integrate with third-party apps. Now, merchants are embracing POS technology with online capabilities baked into the core product, making the systems flexible and dynamic. Of course, with restaurants ranging from one location, to dozens, to many thousands, there are many, many paths merchants can take to fit into an omnichannel world.

Lloyd emphasizes that whatever strategy restaurants take (and the solutions they choose the implement them), investing in an omnichannel approach will help merchants respond to new tech trends, allow third parties to plug into POS more easily, and understand their customers better.