With the reopening of stadiums and arenas, safe and secure point-of-sale (POS) systems are a key requirement of the modern-day fan experience during COVID-19.
Jonathan Hunot, Director at SumUp POS, discusses with TheStadiumBusiness.com how the payment technology company’s systems can help venues safely reopen, and how the business has adapted during the pandemic.
TheStadiumBusiness.com: What would you say are the main challenges currently facing stadia/arenas in reopening safely during COVID-19?
Jonathan Hunot: “For the past year and a half, we were focused on addressing the concerns around health and safety brought on by the pandemic. The focus was on minimising the movement of people through tech and the automation it delivers.
“Stadiums had to review their existing POS setup as a first step and ascertain whether their legacy system was still able to meet the demands brought on by the national lockdown. Was their existing setup fit for purpose and serving their needs or did they need to seek alternative options?
“So when stadiums came our way, the main question that was posed to us was whether our system served some of the features that were now a necessity to reopen safely – most predominantly an integrated mobile ordering platform alongside a range of hospitality features.”
TSB: How can SumUp’s Stadium POS help in this regard?
JH: SumUp POS (formerly Goodtill) is, in short, a way to automate a whole host of functions that would otherwise require regular staff intervention that would be time-consuming, labour expensive and prone to human error.
“By implementing our POS, arena runners would not only circumvent the risks that come with the transmission, but also benefit from faster turnaround and streamlined service alongside creating a more COVID-secure environment.
“Speeding up service without increasing staff or labour needs through automation, centralising processes through our range of modules and third-party integrations enabled us to meet those ends.”
“At this point, the cashless model is long accepted and adopted tech and serves as a way to fast-track stadiums into adopting more sophisticated solutions such as POS and mobile ordering.
“This means committing less valuable staff time to several tasks that will simply disappear if you choose to go cashless – setting up cash floats at the beginning of the day, periodically refilling the registers with change, counting and reconciling cash for each register at the end of the day and making bank deposits.”
“Stock management ties in with our grand goal of minimising the movement of people and therefore transmission.
“Whether it’s through remote order supplies, automated stock counts or powerful demand forecasting – the labour needed is minimised. Many modern solutions like our SumUp POS can also be set so that automatic purchase orders are dispatched to your suppliers when inventory hits a pre-set buffer zone.”
“During the pandemic, there was often the temptation for merchants to overstock supplies to cover for seemingly unpredictable stock movements. More times than not, however, through bulk overstocking, stadiums are more likely to lose revenue through wastage of expired products or products that simply won’t leave the shelves.
Storage in itself is a costly endeavour and the products are more likely to be damaged the longer they age in the warehouse, as well as being subject to depreciation. Stadiums may have to reduce the selling price simply to sell before the expiration date resulting in an ultimate loss.
“POS technology allows for forecasting stock movements based on current demand, providing real-time information on sales and alleviating some of the fluctuating market concerns.”
TSB: Could you give us any specific examples of how you have worked with a client to improve their stadium operations?
JH: “For cricket and rugby clubs we were approached for not just collection orders but in-seat ordering. Rugby clubs were also keen on introducing table ordering to their hospitality areas and boxes.
“It’s been an interesting shift in focus, to better cater to their fans in both a safer and more convenient fashion. Goodeats (our mobile ordering platform) was able to tick both of these boxes, functioning as a standalone table ordering service as well as a mobile ordering platform that supports delivery, drop-off and collection.
“The third most popular feature requested was setting orders for collection – that is where end-users place an order on their phone, decide on a collection point and pick it up at the designated location.
“So our capabilities covered the hospitality locations of stadiums for predominantly rugby clubs. Catering to stadium boxes through in-seat ordering was popular among our Premier League football club clients.”
TSB: How has COVID-19 affected your business and how have you adapted to address this?
JH: “It was a challenge, of course, we had to furlough staff and pause a lot of customer licenses since we naturally didn’t want our customers paying for something they weren’t able to use.
“But, we were able to shift our focus and dedicate some extra time to our then still incubating mobile ordering platform, Goodeats.
“Before COVID, the platform was still a very basic ‘Click & Collect’, but it meant we weren’t starting from scratch when trying to create a more sophisticated, feature-rich mobile ordering solution. We rebranded the product, investing a lot of development work into it (we didn’t furlough any of our developers during the pandemic) and created a very time-relevant answer for our clients.
We saw interest in Goodeats surge when COVID-19 came onto the scene last year. This only escalated during this most recent lockdown and reopening in June. We saw the platform increase an unprecedented 450% in order volume compared to the 2020 reopening back in July. At peak, Goodeats fired through five orders per second and 14,000 orders per hour.”
TSB: Do you believe the pandemic can also act to open up new opportunities to evolve stadium/arena operations and the fan experience?
JH: “The pandemic has pushed the need for an all-inclusive fan app. That is, stadiums are looking for a single-app solution that supports in-seat and mobile ordering, ticketing access, control integrations, loyalty features, CRM and the ability to advertise club/fan merchandise.
“With the spike in demand since the comeback of big hospitality, there’s a gap in the market for a convenient and easy to use solution and the lockdown fast-tracked the work on such a fan app that touches on all the operational points a club might require.
“Once such a solution is in place, broadly offered and adopted, it will pave a way to frictionless payments taken to its very end comparable to what we’re seeing with Amazon Fresh Stores; a way to select, order and pay without a till point or payment process whatsoever.”
Speeding up service
“Speeding up service has always been a priority for stadium runners for convenience’s sake but during the lockdown era, it also addressed safety concerns and minimising the foot flow of staff and customers alike.
“As previously mentioned, our POS introduced automation to every aspect of stadiums. Stock takes completed remotely as well as fill in order forms from our back office. With the cashless route, merchants shave precious seconds off of every single transaction, and when it comes to our mobile ordering platform, moving the order fulfilment online meant cutting queues, ordering in comfort and processing payments instantly.
“COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of mobile ordering and POS services significantly. While the hospitality sector as a whole has been moving in this direction regardless, the added priority of safety led to a surge in demand for automation and remote payment.
“In fact, this adoption has been so vast that a recent survey by McKinsey found that COVID-19 has accelerated technology uptake by seven years. This level of investment has allowed organisations to completely rethink the way they operate.
“From providing a speedier service, minimising human error, streamlining communication and accessing unrivalled insight through powerful reporting features – many businesses have found the spend on a dedicated POS and mobile ordering serves as an investment, with results quickly becoming evident.
“It is also true that as we ease out of lockdown and hospitality starts to adapt to new ways of working, the trading environment will continue to evolve and change in 2021. Businesses will need to be able to react quickly in line with new rules, but also to take advantage of new opportunities that these changes could present.”
SumUp POS is a sponsor of this year’s TheStadiumBusiness Summit, which will take place at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester on November 30 and December 1. Click here to meet them.
Images: SumUp POS