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Meet the partners: Paymentsense

Meet the partners: Paymentsense

Our partner, Europe's largest Merchant Services Provider, Paymentsense, talks to us about the vital elements a start-up food business needs to survive and thrive  

Meet the partners: Paymentsense

Baird Kleinsmith, Chief Partnerships Officer at Paymentsense, answers our questions as part of Preoday’s ‘Meet the Partners’ series.

What separates Paymentsense from other merchant service providers in the market?

The UK payments acceptance market is dominated by large, slow, inflexible providers who’ve been under-serving and over-charging independent businesses for too long. We want to change that by offering a better product and better value.

However, we also recognise that independent businesses are very diverse and have a broad range of needs. So, we’ve set ourselves up to provide highly individualised support at a level that I believe is unmatched in this sector.

Part of that involves working with software partners to provide integrated technology solutions. Until now, this kind of technology was too expensive and complex for all but the biggest industry players. We’ve now made it simpler and more accessible so it brings real convenience to merchants and their customers.

What kind of benefits are we talking about?

Well, for example, working alongside Preoday to enable restaurants and takeaways to receive orders and get paid through an app. Interestingly, we’ve just released some research showing that regular takeaway customers are quite tech-savvy and more likely than average to want to make orders through smartphone apps.

Another example is our Connect integrated payments product which links our terminals with customers’ tills. It’s a simple technology, but it works wonders for business owners – eliminating mistakes at shop counters and saving countless trips from till to table by restaurant waiting staff. It also saves time and headaches on after-work cash-ups.

So how do you drive take-up of these services?

We acquire customers through two primary channels – via a field sales team based locally across the UK and Ireland, and via our technology partners who’ve integrated their solutions with our payments platforms. Word of mouth is also big for us – it’s always great when happy customers share their experiences with fellow business owners.

How important are these partnerships and technology integrations to your business?

Critical. Historically, partners have brought in about 30-40% of new business, but in 2019 that number was over half. In addition, a third of our self-sourced customers use our integrated payment solution which also requires partner collaboration.

In our view, any business that has invested in technology – whether in-store or online – can benefit from integrated payments. What’s more, as a business, we put far more of our resources into supporting our integrated customers and partners than any other UK payments provider.

You place a lot of emphasis on customer service – why is it so important to your company?

Well, when you get as many customers from partners as we do, that’s a big responsibility. They’re putting their trust in us to look after these businesses and if we let them down we’d have betrayed that trust. So, customer service is always Job 1 for us.

What do you consider the biggest game-changer in the food operations market in recent years?

Perhaps I’m biased, but integrated payments has been huge. When we speak to our customers, they tell us their tills balance perfectly, their cash-ups get done in minutes and they now get home early and see their kids. With so many efficiencies and benefits, every business with an EPoS really should consider integrating.

But this is a fast-evolving industry and I think the biggest game-changers are yet to come.

How do you see digital ordering evolving in the next 5-10 years?

The likes of Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat have done a lot to normalise online ordering and delivery, which is great. But the costs are high and the business model these companies use opens a restaurant’s customer base up to its rivals, amongst other challenges for business owners. I expect restaurants to take back control of their business by launching their own ordering solutions.

What are the most vital elements for a start-up food business to survive and thrive?

Well, I can’t say I’ve ever run a food business! But, certain factors are especially important for success in this sector. Really great-tasting food, for a start. It sounds obvious, but so often you see people queueing outside one particular sandwich shop and ignoring all the others on the street. Having just a bit more quality can make all the difference.

Also, delivering a unique experience or satisfying an unmet consumer need. If there’s a dining concept or eating format that works well in other countries, it may well work here too.

However, diners can be risk-averse, so you need a plan to get people in the door, especially if you’re offering something unique. That’s why you need to run effective promotions.

And finally, I’d say technology because innovation is very fast-moving in the food industry right now. There are real opportunities to be market leaders in how you provide service, either by offering something unique or by improving convenience.

What should we expect to see from Paymentsense in the coming year?

Right now our company is going through a big transformation. We’ve reorganised our technology and product teams into “units” focused on solving customer issues, as a truly customer-led business should do. You can expect to see many more new innovative products and services – all aimed at making payment acceptance easier for independent businesses.

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