Hospitality Titans

Paper to Pixels: The Evolution of Ordering & Payment Systems

Paper to Pixels: The Evolution of Ordering & Payment Systems

By Hospitality Titans & Emenu Now

The evolution of ordering off menus and paying the bill has evolved significantly over time, influenced by technological advances, cultural shifts and client preferences in light of the contemporary digital era. Behavioural changes leave the hospitality industry to revolutionise how we interact with our clients, shifting to efficient, fast and effective communication right at our fingertips.

Dating back to the Song Dynasty in China, menus were created to cater for busy business people who had little time to prepare evening meals. Chalkboards were the original display for establishments to highlight meals and prices of the day.

Table service became prominent in the 18th century, allowing consumers to relax and interact with the servers who placed dishes on their tables when entering. Though menus are still used in both formal and informal meal settings, service has drastically shifted over the last few years as consumers gain independence.

Ordering through apps, QR codes and self-service is seen as a much faster communication chain rather than waiting at their table.

In the 1980s, there were two types of menus: the “blind menu,” usually used at business parties, and the “women’s menu.” Both menus did not display prices to make consumers feel more comfortable when dining in partner or group settings. Some restaurants still use the ‘blind menu’ on their website as a psychological trick, altering consumers’ buying behaviour before they even visit the establishment. However, most online menus are comprehensive with prices, images, information and reviews allowing consumers to browse electronically before dining, reassuring consumers’ purchase decisions and providing a more interactive experience.

Online menus have since developed through the 20th century with the introduction of mobile apps linking consumers directly to businesses where they can browse, place orders and make reservations, often offering personalised and exclusive deals to increase brand loyalty and customer experience.

In the 21st century, third-party delivery platforms, such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, were introduced, highlighting menus from a range of restaurants for consumers to order and enjoy in the comfort of their own homes. This advancement offers consumers convenience and freedom of choice.

In response to the global pandemic, limiting human interaction was key; however, businesses still needed to provide an experience for their customers. Many restaurants adopted QR code menus in 2021 to enhance safety and enable customers to feel at ease in social environments again. Now standard in most restaurants, this streamlined process allowed customers to access menus without handling physical products.

The history of payments dates back over 3,000 years ago, when patrons created the bartering system to trade popular goods, payments including cattle, grains, leather and other commodities. Decades later, the introduction of coins, cash and cheques came into play as the primary payment method of individuals attending a hospitality establishment.

Before cash registers became widely used, establishments implemented a tab system allowing frequent customers to accrue charges over time and clear their bills on a periodic basis. This practice is still used today, especially at bars and pubs where people spend many hours and large-scale private hire events.

In 1958, American Express was introduced into the market and brought to the UK in the 60’s. In the 1970s, the magnetic stripe was added to all payment cards and electronic card readers were introduced, creating a faster, more secure and accurate way to pay.

In the 20th century, credit cards became the default payment of choice, providing customers with greater flexibility, security and convenience when dining out with family or friends. The establishment of the point of sales (POS) system became implemented into food and beverage business models, whereas previously, a POS in a shop would have consisted of a large cash register and a ledger for recording purchases and sales.

The revolutionary POS system created solutions and streamlined transactions while keeping organised records for businesses. Since the introduction of contactless payments (NFC) in 2007, this has become the most popular, quick and accessible way for consumers to pay for their dining experiences effectively and securely.

Hospitality businesses are now looking for alternatives to update their current hardware POS systems without buying new devices or throwing away their current set up. In a recent survey conducted by both EMenu Now and Punch Pubs, they found that 70% are willing to upgrade their till systems provided their current hardware is used to curtail expenses. In addition, 80% of those surveyed were interested in a till system that actively facilitates upselling.

These capabilities are available through white-label solutions such as EMenu Now. White-label alternatives differ from apps through how everything is accessible through a web browser, removing the barrier of storage issues or inapplicable POS integrations.

At EMenu Now their products can be used on any device, in connection with any POS in any venue. Whether you’re on the go, rushing between tables or in the kitchen- you can easily access your digital menu, your ECoPilot (pocket POS) or EConcierge on your phone/ tablet or computer. No App, no extra devices and no more paper.

EMenu Now’s new product is a plug-in mobile point of sale that can integrate with your POS or be your POS. Employees can take orders and payments both at the bar and or on the go table-side, even without a card machine.

We wanted to create an easy to use software that helped train staff with upselling, a POS that worked with any device, and simplified the process to the point where you could use it stand alone or in connection with your POS. So with our ECoPilot your staff will have their own personal assistant optimising each serve.



EMenu Now

The Evolution of Dining Technology









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