How Captiva delivers consistency for restaurants and takeaways

Cloud-based software that handles ordering, payments, loyalty schemes and data integration can give businesses a much-needed edge in a hugely competitive food service sector

Ed Carty, chief executive and co-founder, Captiva POS. Picture: Fergal Philips

After some rocky years defined by lockdown and a pivot to deliveries, the restaurant and food service sector should be enjoying a real bounce back. On one level it is: order volumes are high, and December is a particularly good month for any business catering to the social side of eating.

Company name: Captiva POS

Year founded: 1999

Why it is in the news: Captiva is adding more features to its SaaS solution for restaurants and takeaways while committing to low, predictable prices

And yet, there is a problem: costs.

Ed Carty, chief executive and co-founder of Irish software company Captiva POS, which specialises in providing services to the food and hospitality sectors, said that the chief concern that restaurants and takeaways were facing today was dealing with price rises.

“In talking to our customers and seeing where they are at the moment, money is at the front and centre,” he said.

Carty said that both VAT rises and general inflation were issues.

“The change in the VAT rate has brought it to the forefront. It was reduced to nine per cent, but now it’s back to 13.5 per cent, which is effectively a 50 per cent increase in the rate,” he said.

On the whole, restaurants and takeaways have decided to absorb the rise, but other costs, such as ingredients or energy, are also a problem.

“Inflation is still a problem, too. Restaurants and takeaways are still wrestling with that, and prices never really come down. They may stop going up or go up at a slower rate, but they're still elevated,” said Carty.

Responding to this reality, Captiva POS has committed to its clear pricing model, one which is entirely commission-free.

“We're one of the few people in the market who said we wouldn’t take a cut of people’s revenue,” said Carty.

We’re a one-stop solution for both online ordering and in-store ordering, and we’re so busy because we do a fixed-rate monthly fee with zero commission

This is a point of principle, Carty said, as well as a way for Captiva POS to differentiate itself in the marketplace.

“We’re a one-stop solution for both online ordering and in-store ordering, and we’re so busy because we do a fixed-rate monthly fee with zero commission. We’re really proud that we don’t take a percentage of our customers' cash flow,” he said.

Indeed, some of the well-known international food ordering apps not only take a commission but are now adding in a per order charge.

However, in addition, Carty said, Captiva POS continuously upgrades its software as a service (SaaS) platform with new capabilities far beyond just ordering and payments. In fact, the company now offers custom apps for restaurants as well as the ability to perform marketing blitzes and data analytics.

“We've just launched our loyalty and discount integration into the custom-built, branded apps. Not only that, it's registered in their name. You can also do it on the web site, and it’s a fully white label service,” he said.

Captiva POS also collects, aggregates and sorts order data, providing it to users in a useful fashion.

“Our customers can run marketing campaigns, including text messages and emails, from inside our cloud, looking at customer average spend or who did or didn’t order this week and offer discounts. If the Champions League is on, for example, you can run a two-hour campaign saying something like ‘spend €20 and get a €5 discount’.

Understand buyer behaviour

“It’s really responsive and you also get instantaneous reporting. After you run the campaign the data is all there, ready for you to look at,” he said.

This data can be used to understand buyer behaviour and trends allowing owners to see things like a promo that was successful between 6pm and 8pm versus one that was less successful later in the evening.

“They can also strategically work out their order throughout the whole night. We give all the data to our customers, all GDPR-compliant and ready to go. A lot of software providers try to keep that from their users,” Carty said.

For Captiva, this is all part of a drive to support the restaurant and takeaway sector in the simplest and most straightforward way, Carty said.

“We're agnostic. We want to work with every type of hospitality business, from the guy on the corner right up,” Carty said.