- Toast has launched updates to its Order & Pay solution, which enables guests to order and pay in a restaurant through their mobile phone via a QR code. New features include pre-authorization tabs that let diners start a tab, pre-authorize a credit card from their device and order, as well as group ordering, which allows guests to add items to their order from their individual devices, send it to the kitchen on one check and include a guest name so servers know who each item is for, according to a press release.
- Toast also introduced estimated sales reports for Toast Marketing, Apple Pay on Toast Online Ordering and the Toast TakeOut app and customizable bonus points for Toast Loyalty.
- Toast's product expansion comes after rumors swirled in February that the company was considering going public. The additional features could make it more competitive as other point-of-sale companies, like Par Technology, expand their platforms.
Toast's newest features latch onto a trend that accelerated because of the pandemic: diner desire to pay at the table with their own devices.
"Ordering and paying for food via smartphone might have felt foreign to some a few years ago. Today, many people expect this convenience in an effort to reduce contact with others and increase efficiency," Aman Narang, president and co-founder of Toast, said in a news release.
According to reseach from Piplsay, 51% of Americans said their preferences for touchless technology increased amid COVID-19, and 40% of Americans think negatively of businesses that do not adopt these features. Gartner predicts that by 2024, 80% of ordering, checkout and payment services will be contactless.
There are also potential financial perks to offering contactless payment options beyond reducing overhead costs. Toast claims its Order & Pay pre-authorization and group ordering solution yields a nearly 12% higher ticket size on average, likely from the convenience, the ability of customers to order at their own pace and fewer comped meals because guests can see exactly what they're ordering and catch errors in real-time. Toast also said the solution generates higher tips for servers who are able to cover more tables in a shift.
Toast's solution is facilitated by a QR code scanned at the table, a technology consumers are becoming more familiar with. About 11 million U.S. households scanned a QR code in 2020, up from 9.76 million scans in 2018, according to data from Statista.
MustHaveMenus CEO Jim Williams told Restaurant Dive earlier this year that his company, which helps restaurants design menus via its online design tools and printing service, rushed to add QR codes to its tabletops shortly after the start of the pandemic.
"It was like a bolt of lightning. The interest in QR codes happened overnight. It was really a scramble for restaurants," Williams said.
This shift in consumer expectations has helped push restaurants to adopt more technology into their operations. Panasonic found that 78% of restaurant operators believe contactless payments are in high demand, while a Square report shows 76% of operators believe contactless options will stick around. Fifty-four percent of casual dining operators and 50% of fine dining operators have adopted digital menus since the pandemic began. Further, 88% of restaurants are considering swapping to digital menus.