Vincent McKevitt, Founder and Managing Director, Tossed
Vincent McKevitt talks to Retail Technology Innovation Hub about backing cool PayTechs, going cashless and plans for 2018
RTIH: Why did you choose to back Thyngs over the many other early stage PayTechs out there?
VM: There are several mobile payment solutions coming to the market, but Thyngs is by far the most convenient we have seen. We also see much wider application potential than just payments, with opportunities in areas such as tableside ordering and for marketing and brand engagement campaigns. The solutions they have already brought to the charity sector to combat the declining use of cash also make this a worthwhile as well as a commercial investment.
RTIH: You say that you became interested in the company as a possible solution to the glut of payment apps out there. Would you agree that the market has become overcrowded and that there will be a slimming of the crowd over the next few years, with a small number of mobile payment options emerging triumphant?
VM: The market is in flux as there are so many exciting technologies out there. Whenever there is flux, there is opportunity for everyone, but the winners as always will be those who execute well.
RTIH: Tossed was the first hospitality business in Europe to go completely cashless, swapping tills for self-service kiosks. Could you tell us about the thinking and the technology behind this move?
VM: Our vision is to deliver healthy, customisable food, made to order. We believe in this because everyone’s health and nutritional requirements are unique. Customisable and made to order makes us slower than some competitors who pre-make their food.
Technology has allowed us to deliver our vision at the speeds busy urbanites need it as we can now handle many more orders from our guests. We previously had an average of five tills in a store, we now have 20+ self-serve kiosks (where guests order on a tablet) allowing us to take four times as many orders at the same time. With the added cost pressure of food cost inflation, NMW, rates etc., if we hadn’t have innovated our business would be under a lot of pressure now.
RTIH: Where are you in terms of roll-out? And what has been the customer reaction and how has the company fared?
VM: All our High Street Central London sites have been converted and our Welcome Break locations are in the middle of converting. Our guests love it. Our guests are forward thinking, busy people who know and care about their health and now they can get the food they need, faster.
RTIH: What changes have you seen in-store since going cashless? Have you seen a change in what people are ordering having gone down this route?
VM: Actually, we now employ more team per store. We have redeployed our team from the tills to the kitchen to ensure we can make food faster for the increased number of guests. We have also added a new host role to ensure that guests are still greeted by a human when they come into the store.
Guests are increasingly customising their food now that they have more time to place their orders and browse the menu. This is great as ultimately it’s our USP and, in this day and age, everyone is more conscious of what food suits their specific dietary needs.
RTIH: Have you lost any customers by going cashless? It does, after all, remain a very popular payment method.
VM: No. The first location we opened cashless, we served around 500 guests on day one and only one person came in with cash.
RTIH: Could you see cashless stores working outside of London?
VM: Yes, completely. Our Welcome Break locations outside of London are implementing the technology right now and the feedback has been amazing. Technology is everywhere now and it doesn’t matter if you are in London or the countryside, you are touched by it in everyday life. Our solution is simple and easy to use. One of the reasons we built it on a consumer tablet rather than the big ones a certain burger chain use is because we wanted our guests to feel familiar with using it. Most people have an iPad or Android tablet at home and are comfortable using them.
RTIH: What are your plans for growth and technology implementations this year?
VM: We are expanding with the next new location opening in Westminster on Horseferry Road in March. We are continuing to look for new sites and acquisition opportunities.
In terms of technology we are moving our kiosk technology to the next level with a new version focused on simplicity and speed, with enhanced functionality to allow guests with certain dietary need e.g. vegans to filter and find the food they can eat quicker. We are also focusing on our back of house technology with the implementation of the smart checklist app, Trail, being rolled out across our Welcome Break and Dubai locations.