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La Pain Quotidien is a chain of restaurants that can be described as both fancy bakeries and relaxed café venues, operating in 18 countries worldwide.
The brand has opted to roll out an electronic point of sale system (epos) to its 25 stores in central London, and the terminals have now all been introduced following a three-year roll-out.
The project, which started in 2012, is replacing a mixture of old epos systems and cash registers with PC-based J2 Retail System epos terminals from Aures using a phased roll-out method.
“Before 2012 we were using some tills which were branded by our epos supplier; our epos supplier is called Squirrel,” explains Robert Brown, head of UK IT for Le Pain Quotidien.
These Squirrel tills were as old as seven or eight years, and although the firm kept using Squirrel’s software, the hardware needed to change.
“At the moment we’re still using the same software and we review that year on year,” explains Brown.
“At some point we may switch but it depends. As we grow as a business we evolve – and you outgrow some of the systems that you’ve got, so sometimes you have to switch. We’ll get to that stage and we’ll probably do the same but, until we get there, we’re currently with Squirrel.”
J2 has been used by a number of restaurants and bakeries, which was part of the appeal for Le Pain as it expands its estate.
Brown was aware of J2 before it was bought by Aures when he was working in previous roles, and knew the equipment was appropriate for the use case.
“We did some local testing at Le Pain Quotidien offices and tested a few different models they had and came out with the one that we’re using now, which is the J2 635,” says Brown.
The roll-out saw a combination of J2 630 and J2 635 units used in stores, with some establishments needing more than one till, bringing the total of these epos systems to 115 across the Le Pain Quotidien London restaurants.
“We had gone through a couple of other models of theirs as well in the process, and we also had a working relationship with Aures from a previous occasion where we had used a couple of their terminals in some of our restaurants – almost as a trial.”
Mobile payments technology
Many retailers have begun deploying smaller handheld terminals or iPads for staff to use during the order and payment process, but Le Pain Quotidien chose to stick with fixed PC systems that waiters visit throughout the day.
“Our current epos system wouldn’t work on a handheld system, we’re limited in that respect, rather than going for something like an iPad system,” says Brown.
“Because the industry is hospitality, equipment tends to get broken very easily if it’s not robust, something like an iPad doesn’t necessarily work out well in a hospitality environment.”
But accepting mobile payments is a different matter entirely, with predictions that mobile payments will hit £1.2bn a week by 2020. The restaurant began accepting Apple payments when they came to the UK.
“We already accept Apple Pay and we were one of the partners with Apple when they launched that in London,” explains Brown.
Read more about point of sale (POS) technology
“We’re looking at mobile ordering and mobile payment via our own mobile application on Android and iPhone. That’s in development as well as the loyalty aspect that comes with that, so that is the natural progressive step along with online ordering.”
Brown claims that having touch-screen systems for point of sale in the catering industry is like offering customers Wi-Fi – it’s “expected” by customers and servers –and if you’re not using these simple technologies, then you’re way behind.
Like mobile payments, contactless card payments are on the rise, having increased by more than 189% since May 2013. Currently Le Pain Quotidien offers contactless payments, although these terminals are not integrated with its epos system.
“We have contactless card terminals but currently our epos system is integrated with our card terminals with a separate VDQ terminal, and then we have Apple Pay on that VDQ terminal. The Apple Pay bit is actually quite easy,” says Brown.
“Things like your ordering, obviously they all have to be integrated with the epos system, and card payments do as well. It can be tricky, especially if your software is like ours is – it’s not the newest.”
Legacy in a growing business
Like many firms investigating in new technologies, the choice between introducing all-new technology, or finding a way to connect it to old systems, is a tough one to make.
“When you’re trying to integrate a legacy system that can be quite challenging,” explains Brown.
“I don’t see us integrating our card terminals with this current epos software, we’d probably change epos software before we did that, regardless of what hardware it’s sitting on.”
The Le Pain Quotidien empire is a growing one – the business has a lot of franchises, and the company is US-based, which is its biggest market alongside Paris and the UK.
“It’s a real growing business and we’re just about to move into Ireland as well,” says Brown.
“We don’t like to work with just anybody, we’ll work with people who embrace the brand and who want to grow the brand.”