Long gone are the days when the simple till or credit card receipt was no more than a straightforward, albeit very important, record of a transaction. Used imaginatively, today’s restaurant POS systems open up a whole new world of business potential through the use of receipt marketing.
Promoting loyalty programs, coupons and one-off events are just a few of the ways in which receipts can be used to drive extra revenue, and they can also help increase tips for staff.
POS systems featuring handheld tablets for staff and sometimes touchscreens for customers are rapidly replacing pencil and paper as the prime means of taking orders.
So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that old-fashioned receipts are rapidly being replaced by digital versions and that some studies have suggested that as many as 75 percent of restaurant customers now opt for digital receipts when offered the choice.
But apart from their ease and convenience, what should be really interesting to restaurant owners is that some 80 percent of these digital receipts are opened, and often on several occasions, a rate far in excess of those normally achieved by conventional e-mail or social media messages.
It’s notable in this context that there are around 75 million millennials in the US, more than half of whom eat out at least three times a week. And this demographic is overwhelmingly technology-friendly and likely to respond well to receipt marketing.
There’s plenty of strong, if unsurprising, evidence that customers who join restaurant loyalty programs tend to be more frequent visitors and to spend more than other customers, so a good loyalty/reward program should be a no-brainer marketing tool for most restaurants.
But the problem, particularly for smaller businesses, has often been how to market them cost-effectively.
Digital receipts are a great solution. Since they have to be issued anyway, why not use them to give customers the opportunity to sign up for or express interest in learning more about your rewards program right at the point of sale?
Today’s POS systems allow receipts to be sent by e-mail or text, as customers prefer, and rewards programs can also be integrated with e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers and credit card details to allow the seamless addition of points and the sending of promotional offers, deals and coupons.
Aside from formal loyalty programs, digital receipts are an opportunity to communicate directly with customers and to give notice of any upcoming special events, holiday promotions or special offers.
They may also be used to suggest customers try ordering online or encourage new reservations and can provide direct links to the relevant pages of your website.
You can also prompt diners to visit your social media pages, fill out customer satisfaction surveys or leave reviews (though, obviously, this can sometimes be a double-edged sword).
Another advantage of digital receipts is that they require customers to give you contact details (e-mail address or cell phone number) which they might be otherwise reluctant to do. And once you have this information it’s easy to use it to send more detailed promotional materials.
Just be sure that you get customers’ consent and that you comply with all relevant regulations. As a matter of good marketing practice, it’s in any case important not to risk annoying well-disposed customers by over-using these channels.
The use of a restaurant POS system (including digital receipts) should in itself improve customer experience, reduce waiting times, improve communications with the kitchen and the bar and therefore encourage customers to be generous in their tipping.
And the additional revenues generated by effective receipt marketing should in themselves result in an increase in the tips generated.
Beyond that, using POS systems to generate personalized receipts including the name of the server has repeatedly been found to increase tips.
This may be as simple as a: “Thank you, from Joe and all of us at the Acme Restaurant. We look forward to seeing you again soon,” type of message, or you could include an invitation to a specific upcoming event, news of menu changes or almost anything you like.
In this age of increasing consumer weariness with conventional methods of advertising, this kind of creative receipt marketing can be an extremely cost-effective means of communicating with customers and generating repeat business without hard-selling them.