BY Trustly

Digital Payment Processing: Performance and Potential for Restaurants and Grocery Chains

Digital payment processing has helped QSRs and grocery chains adapt to the pandemic and realize other benefits: more efficiency, improved customer experience, increased revenue, and more. Each approach to digital payment processing has its pros and cons. Merchants that diversify their options by offering Online Banking Payments can avoid major pitfalls and maximize the benefits for themselves and their customers. 


Quick service restaurants and grocery chains can approach digital payment processing several different ways:

  1. Developing their own digital ordering system,
  2. Collaborating with a third-party system, and
  3. Using a first party payment provider. 


Both pre- and post-pandemic, Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) and grocery chains have applied these strategies to cater to customer needs and grow their revenue. Here’s an overview of current adoption and performance of digital payment solutions for QSRs and grocery chains, plus new opportunities in online payments.  


Quick Service Restaurants 

Quick Service Restaurants have been investing in digital payment processing solutions for years now, mainly as a way to streamline ordering and improve customer experience. Then the pandemic began, and retail sales at food and drink places took a major hit


This inspired many QSRs to speed up adoption or double down investment in contactless payments and mobile delivery to recover lost sales from in-person dining. 


Those that have prioritized digital payment solutions both before and during the pandemic have been reaping the most benefits. Starbucks was one of the first businesses to develop their own digital ordering system as far back as 2014, in the form of a mobile wallet. They saw significant success with it well before COVID-19. By Q4 2020, Starbucks said nearly a quarter of all their US retail orders are placed from a phone. 


McDonald’s also has its own mobile ordering system in place, however they do have a partnership with Uber Eats for delivery services. QSRs aren’t just facilitating delivery and contactless payment for takeouts, but also for dine-in customers. UberEats has a pay-at-table solution for this purpose. Other businesses such as Burger King and Shake Shack also encourage app-based ordering for customers in their stores. 


Digital ordering offers numerous benefits for QSRs, which is why adoption was already on the rise before COVID-19. According to 2019’s Restaurant Readiness Index, 65% of large QSRs and 31% of small QSRs offered mobile order-ahead as of mid-2019. Pandemic aside, mobile-order-ahead solutions are just a smart business choice, improving profits and restaurant efficiency. According to ChowNow, online ordering can also grow ticket size by up to 20% for restaurants. 


Even beyond Covid-19, ease-of-use and habit will likely drive consumers to continue using contactless payments when visiting QSRs. While widespread in-restaurant digitization was an inevitable development, the pandemic significantly sped up adoption by both merchants and customers. 


Grocery Stores 

Grocery stores are also seeing similar success with digital payments. Consumer demand for contactless payments for grocery store purchases increased significantly after the pandemic began. According to’s Omnichannel Grocery Report, 23 percent of US consumers started ordering more groceries online for home delivery since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Consumers today use a variety of channels to buy groceries, including purchasing and paying in store, ordering online with home delivery, ordering online with in-store pickup, etc.


And while in-store shopping remains the most popular way for people to buy groceries, they also want contactless payments. In fact, the same report revealed that more than 35% of consumers would change grocery stores for one that offers contactless payment in-store. There are of course safety motivations behind this, but also ease-of-use and efficiency are driving factors. 


While grocery store chains have been investing in digital payment processing solutions for years, those that doubled down on these efforts during the pandemic are reaping the benefits. A great example is Albertsons, which grew their in-store sales by 12.3% in the final quarter of 2020, thanks to an influx of digital sales (up 225%). 


They’ve invested a lot in digital payment solutions recently. In October they introduced Albertsons Pay, a zero-touch checkout experience. This comes from the just for U loyalty app, which is also used by Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Randalls, United Supermarkets and other grocers. 

Albertsons has also invested in initiatives to streamline contactless payments, such as expanding their Drive Up & Go offering to nearly 1,400 stores, and piloting an automated grocery pickup kiosk solution in January 2021. 


Payments challenges and opportunities For QSRs and Grocery Chains 

While many businesses scrambled to adopt digital payment processing early in the pandemic, now’s the time to consider which solution is truly best at meeting customer needs and driving business goals in the long run. 


How QSRs and grocery chains should approach digital payment processing depends a lot on scalability and logistics. Starbucks succeeded building their own mobile wallet for payments, but that required significant investment for development, marketing, and customer incentives to succeed. 


Partnering with third-party systems for payments and delivery, such as Grubhub or DoorDash is a simple solution because they already have their own infrastructure in place. However these options also come with expensive commissions that take a serious cut to restaurant revenue from mobile orders. 


Relying solely on traditional card transactions for payments is also costly. Average credit card processing fees range from 1.5-3.5% per transaction. These are non-negotiable rates set by card companies that are likely to become even more expensive in the future. As fraud rates are on the rise, merchants are also footing the bill for chargebacks from card transactions. Chargeback costs in the food and beverage industry are estimated to reach as high as 0.46% of revenue.    


Using a first party payment provider offers a unique opportunity, as they require minimal investment from merchants to implement, and have low transaction fees compared to partnering with third-party systems or using traditional debit cards. 


Trustly’s Online Banking Payments 


Trustly’s Online Banking Payments solution is one such first party payment provider that addresses these issues for QSRs and grocery chains. Trustly allows consumers to make purchases from merchants online by logging into their bank account. There’s no need to download an app or sign up for a loyalty program — consumers are shown a familiar platform, log in with their own bank information and process the payment without ever leaving the merchant’s website. The simplicity and familiarity of this system encourages use as well.


Trustly also helps merchants avoid many of the pitfalls of debit card payments and other digital payment processing solutions. Transaction costs are lower than debit, improving how much revenue merchants keep from processing digital transactions. Trusty’s Enterprise-grade bank connectivity also ensures complete and accurate account holder data, increasing approval rates. Most importantly, Trustly also guarantees merchant payments, so you can avoid chargebacks and fraud attempts that are costly to business. 


Trustly isn’t just a solution for online e-commerce stores. The current COVID-19 environment has set a standard for contactless solutions for brick-and-mortar businesses that will continue long beyond the end of the pandemic. Trustly’s Online Banking Payments solution can help QSRs and grocery chains meet consumer expectations for digital payments, improve business efficiency, enhance customer experience, and maximize revenue potential from online payments in the long run. Regardless of what other digital payment processing solutions your business uses, including Online Banking Payments as an option requires minimal investment to start improving conversions and realizing the full benefits. 


Contact us at and learn how Trustly could help you.