With consumers heading out in increasing numbers, they’re not just bringing themselves — they’re also bringing their devices, and they definitely plan to use them. According to CNBC, “Nearly 50 percent of consumers say they will not shop at a store that doesn’t offer a contactless way to pay.” So while you’re focused on providing a great meal, great drinks and a stellar service experience, don’t overlook the impact of a weak, or inconsistent network.
A Better Network is Easier than You Think
With the right strategy, bringing your internal network up to par, or installing a new one, doesn’t have to be a headache. And with virtually all costs on the increase — from labor, to food costs — the one category of investment where you can still find big savings and big returns, is in improving your network.
Read on to get the basics on building a robust network that supports your transaction processing, guest ordering and payment needs.
Are You Settling for Crummy Network Service?
Most operators recognize when their network is crummy. But like a bad location for foot traffic, they think it’s a problem that is beyond their control. The symptoms are obvious: transactions get dropped, it takes too long to process orders, and customers bounce. With so much that people disagree about today, the one thing everybody wants is a fast transaction!
If you think your network is unimportant, or feel like it’s something beyond your resources to change, here’s why you should start thinking differently.
A strong network is the backbone that allows fast credit card transactions and satisfied guests. Think about it: when the majority of payments are processed via credit card, the faster you can complete the process, the more likely your guests are to stay and return. With the growth of contactless ordering and mobile payment solutions, the demand on your internal network is even greater. Imagine how much more bandwidth you need when you’re not just processing credit cards through a single point — your POS — but through multiple points, i.e., every mobile device in your venue.
Here are a few, easy questions you can ask to determine whether it’s time to take another look at your network capacity.
When was the last time you upgraded your network equipment?
If your equipment is more than three years old, think about an upgrade. With countless deployments under our belt, in pretty much every format, we’ve found the root of most networking problems is equipment failure. And because most hospitality operators, particularly independents, don’t have an IT team to keep their network up to snuff, it’s not unusual to have equipment failures persist undetected. If you’re processing hundreds, much less thousands, of transactions a day, it pays to invest in regular equipment updates. And with hardware delays becoming a persistent problem, it’s much better to be proactive.
Who installed your network?
If your brother’s buddy, or your college roommate, installed your network on the cheap five years ago, it’s likely time to consider an overhaul. It pays to hire a professional to install your network. Aside from bringing current knowledge and experience to the table, a professional independent contractor, or a company, will show up timely if/when you have a problem.
Are your guest and POS transactions running on the same network?
If your guest and POS transactions are running on the same network, we strongly encourage you to separate them. Ensuring you have a “digital moat” between your guest and business data streams provides greater security and also makes it easier for service providers to troubleshoot problems. Aside from peace-of-mind, creating a guest network also allows you to create a captive portal to capture marketing contact information for your guests.
Have you considered the physical and digital security of your network?
It’s not uncommon to see networking equipment in easily-accessible locations within a venue. But it’s important to think about the physical security of your network, just as much as you think about your digital security.
Do you have to offer wifi?
With systems like GoTab, you don’t have to have a wifi network. As long as you have reliable cellular coverage in your area, guests should have no issue submitting orders from their mobile device. That being said, our POS will run off a wifi network. We’re also working to create a fully wireless version of our POS — stay tuned for more information on that timing.
Do you need an ethernet connection?
Ethernet based networks offer a massive increase in speed; typically 10x increase in speed from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to your POS. An ethernet connection allows for faster transactions with more reliable ordering processing and decreases the likelihood of failed ticket prints. While paying for a business class ISP data sounds like a big investment, you should consider your network a utility that has to be maintained just like your plumbing and electrical.
Another way to look at it is, if your transaction speed is less than 15mbps you have a problem. You should be paying for 500mbps minimum, the faster the better. Remember, bandwidth can get eaten up quickly if you have a guest network, a POS network, a business network, plus a full house. The more bandwidth, the better.
How do you justify the cost of a network upgrade?
With the majority of your on-site transactions happening through a digital interface whether card present or card not present, the majority of your revenue is dependent on your network. The investment easily pays for itself.
How do you find a network professional?
If you have to find a network professional, consult with other business operators in the space. Can also ask for a recommendation from your POS provider. Always work with an individual or company who’s been recommended. There are also companies that specialize in installing networks for restaurant POS systems. Ubiquity and TP-Link are a few examples.