Tableside Payment is Here to Stay: Why Your Restaurant Should Invest in Contactless Payment Technology

As far as industry disruptors go, it would be hard to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Restaurants Canada, foodservice was the fastest-growing industry in Canada prior to COVID, generating $93 billion in sales in 2019. However, after lockdowns came into effect in March 2020, the restaurant industry was arguably the hardest-hit, with over 10,000 Canadian foodservice establishments shutting down permanently, and approximately 800,000 workers either losing their jobs or having their hours cut down to zero.

Restaurants that did survive the worst of the lockdowns were able to do so because they had the ability to adapt to the “new normal”—whether that meant selling groceries, pairing with a delivery app, or scrapping menu items with costly ingredients. To keep the lights on, some restaurants were forced to pivot away from their usual offerings and operations to both adhere to public health standards and keep customers satisfied. For many, that meant a move towards contactless payment technology. As people masked up and furiously sanitized everything in sight, they could feel safe and comfortable tapping their debit card or paying through an app when ordering takeout or other goods.

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As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the world slowly opens up again, lots of things will go back to the way they were prior to the pandemic, but we predict that contactless payments are here to stay. In addition to preventing germs from spreading between servers and customers, enabling your servers to take tableside payments has a number of benefits that outweigh possible awkward interactions or a one-time output for new technology. Those benefits include:

Added convenience

Tableside payments make payments more convenient, especially when it comes to splitting the bill. It’s much easier to split the payment by order and pay individually at the table, instead of having one friend put the tab on their credit or debit card, and everyone adding up their orders, taxes, and tips.

Faster service

In a traditional payment experience, a server brings the customer a bill. Then they come back to collect the bill with payment. If the customer uses a card, the server has to run the card at a station and then bring back the card and receipt. All of those steps can take a good chunk of time.

Tableside payments, on the other hand, cut down on all the back-and-forth and allows your diners to pay more quickly. At the end of the meal, an employee brings a payment processing machine to you. You tap, dip, or swipe your card, and you’re done. It’s a quick, easy, and safe way to pay for your meal, without a lot of fuss.This means a better experience for your diners — both those who have finished eating and those who are waiting for a table. A faster checkout also allows you to turn tables more often.

Higher tips

Though it may seem like pay-at-table technology might bring about awkward interactions when it comes to tipping, it might actually help servers increase tips. You can use the technology to cut down on the time it takes to pay, and who doesn’t love a quick and smooth experience when they’re done with their meal? Additionally, the tableside payment device can offer tip suggestions, which help customers (no more doing math on a napkin) and may result in higher tips.

Secure checkout

Most tableside payment technologies come equipped to process all types of payment — including chip cards and contactless payments. That not only allows your customers to pay in whatever way they want but also means that you’re using more secure payment methods.

While customers might not realize how secure those payment types are, they will likely appreciate that tableside payments mean that their card never leaves their hand. This helps them feel more secure as it protects their personal information.

Square Terminal for Tableside Payments

Square Terminal lets you accept payments, print receipts, and do it all in style. It’s optimized for easy, professional, and reliable payments that treat you and your money fairly — with no long-term contracts, hidden fees, or confusing hardware agreements.

With Square Terminal you’ll pay one low, transparent, fair transaction rate of 2.65% per transaction for Visa, Mastercard, American Express and international credit cards, or 0.75% + 7c per per INTERAC dip or tap, and $299 for the device. You’ll also have 24/7 phone support and next-business-day hardware replacement.

With an intuitive design and no extra training needed, you can start taking payments tableside right away.