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Looking Ahead: QSR and Its Business Transformation Journey

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

The Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry has been witnessing significant changes over the years. Increased competition, rapidly advancing technologies, consumer expectations, concerns over environmental sustainability and changing preferences towards healthy food are only some of the factors which have driven growth, adding a modern twist to the traditional dining experience.

With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the shift to online and cashless payments in 2020, due in part to increased social distancing, as well as the national and local lockdowns and restrictions, many QSR players have taken note of these trends and changing dynamics by swiftly developing new business approaches. With 2020 behind us, what should we look forward to in 2021 and beyond?

Redefining the QSR customer experience

With the pandemic rewriting the business rulebook, touchless has become the new motto across industry verticals and the QSR sector is no exception. Last year, store owners were forced to embark on a business transformation journey that includes a robust digital infrastructure. This has enabled them to pivot to off-premise service formats to meet the changing needs of customers. Many turned to store or curbside pick-up, a new click & collect model for QSR to limit the damage to the industry especially where restaurants closure has been imposed. Meanwhile other players, Panera Bread among them, have followed the 2019 KFC example by experimenting with a subscription model.

An increased reliance on contactless and QR code technology as a touchless alternative, as well as the adoption of emerging technologies has already presented many growth opportunities in the sector. Some QSRs have utilized facial recognition for when customers are wearing masks to improve checkout convenience and comply with safety measures, as well as provide increased reliance on contactless. As a result, WeChat Pay, for example, witnessed a 26% increase in QR codes usage in Q1 2020 and, according to MasterCard, 75% of transactions are now contactless in Europe.

Responsive, integrated digital experiences are increasingly being used by QSRs to build deeper relationships with their customers. Online ordering witnessed a huge increase in demand in 2020 compared to 2019, driven by lockdown restrictions in most countries. What’s more, restaurants looking to adopt an order and/or pay-at-table model can take advantage of this feature too, providing easier payment options to customers thanks to the array of third-party apps now available in different geographies and other models expected to grow next year.

Loyalty benefits collections, or redemption are increasingly going digital and linked to the payment process. Nando’s, Subway, and Starbucks are just some of the players that have partnered with Apple to integrate their loyalty program with Apple Pay, enabling guests to pay, earn and redeem their benefits as part of a one-tap experience.

As more QSRs begin to realize that a digital approach meets customer demand, ensuring speed and flexibility in delivering services at highest standards even if they cannot be physically present, these trends are likely to persist after the pandemic ends.

Looking Forward: Staying Flexible and Competitive

Many of the key trends we saw emerging last year will continue to be accelerated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic this year, as well. We expect to see an even greater shift towards a cashless society across key sectors, making the buying experience quicker and more convenient overall.

Against this backdrop, merchants and operators must make the consumer experience their top priority as trends shift towards flexibility and convenience, ensuring online and mobile payments processes are as secure as possible.

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About the Author

Lee Jones, Director of Sales – Grocery, QSR and Selected Accounts for Northern Europe at Ingenico, a Worldline brand

Lee is the commercial leader for Ingenico, a Worldine brand, in Northern Europe. Lee and his team have an unparalleled track record of helping organisations deliver a reliable, secure and fuss free checkout experience.

Having held a variety of leadership roles with market leading technology companies over a 20-year period, Lee is passionate about driving solutions that deliver real value to his customers.

Leading Ingenico into new markets, where the introduction of cashless payments is just starting to emerge, while supporting existing customers in their ambition to meet and exceed shopper expectations is something which highly interests Lee. Lee is proud of the trust customers have placed with Ingenico and his team. Being able to help organisations reduce the cost, complexity and burden of PCI while assuring their revenues and enabling them to increase their customer satisfaction scores is at the heart of the Ingenico strategy.

About Worldline

Worldline [Euronext: WLN] is the European leader in the payments and transactional services industry and #4 player worldwide. With its global reach and its commitment to innovation, Worldline is the technology partner of choice for merchants, banks and third-party acquirers as well as public transport operators, government agencies and industrial companies in all sectors. Powered by over 20,000 employees in more than 50 countries, Worldline provides its clients with sustainable, trusted and secure solutions across the payment value chain, fostering their business growth wherever they are. Services offered by Worldline in the areas of Merchant Services; Terminals, Solutions & Services; Financial Services and Mobility & e-Transactional Services include domestic and cross-border commercial acquiring, both in-store and online, highly-secure payment transaction processing, a broad portfolio of payment terminals as well as e-ticketing and digital services in the industrial environment. In 2019 Worldline generated a proforma revenue of 5.3 billion euros.

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