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Mobile payments are a hot topic within the fast-casual restaurant industry. We’ve seen Starbucks find success with mobile payments. We hear Chipotle is ready to invest $10 million in improving its current tech to allow for mobile payments. Still, there is a lot of doubt and uncertainty. Are my guests ready for it? Will we increase frequency or check average for our franchisees?
As chief operating and development officer at Tossed, I was well aware of the mobile space, but a mobile payment app just wasn’t an immediate priority. We aren’t Starbucks. Our guests aren’t exactly like Starbucks’ customers. We didn’t think it was something we’d be able to pull off. Mobile payments were on the back burner—until we noticed some of our competitors adopting mobile payment strategies.
It didn’t take long to realize if we didn’t act fast, we’d be left behind. The choice was not if, but when. In January 2014, after just six months of development, we rolled out the Tossed mobile payment and loyalty app at our Boston locations.
Here are three reasons why I believe that now is the time to embrace mobile payments as part of your overall business strategy.
1. Your competitors are already doing it
You’d be surprised by how many of your competitors already have or are developing mobile payment solutions. In Boston alone, we saw competitors like Sebastians Cafe, Espresso Love, and sweetgreen launching custom payment apps. Starbucks set the standard, warming consumers to the idea of paying with their phones. Now mobile payment apps are becoming the status quo. We are getting to a place where businesses need to go mobile simply to maintain pace and keep their competitive advantage.
2. Your franchisees will love it
A custom mobile app can legitimize your brand and engage your customers, but a custom mobile payment app provides an additional layer of value through the data it allows you to collect. This added benefit is extremely important for franchise systems like Tossed. Our mobile payment app will enable our franchisees to collect information about their business and their guests, the money they’re spending to market to those guests, and the exact return on their investment. This level of transparency and the ability for franchisees to see the program is actually producing results for their stores and is valuable beyond measure.
3. It’s easier than you think
Lastly, developing a custom mobile payment app is easier than you think. We made the decision to build our app on the LevelUp platform because of the great customer service they provide from start to finish. Time is the most valuable commodity that no one seems to have, so it meant a lot for us to be able to develop a quality product, meet all of our deadlines, and launch the custom app we wanted in just six months time.
In a highly competitive market, brand loyalty can be difficult to create and even harder to maintain. When it comes to your customers, why let your competitors have the upper hand? Today, we’re able to interact with customers and offer fast, convenient, and reward-driven options that simply make their lives easier. As operators, we’re able to motivate their purchase behavior in real time directly through our app.
Mobile payments are inevitable. If you’re waiting to see others do it first, you’re already too late. Guests love it and, lest we forget, if we do all we can for them, they’ll do all they can for us. It’s not even our choice. The choice has already been for us by our guests.