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Many brands are happy to leave credit-card processing to the pros, but sandwich chain Subway is going against the grain. The brand’s Independent Purchasing Cooperative (ipc), its purchase and supply chain management arm, recently brought all payment processing in house.
The new system processes two million payment transactions per day for franchisees in the U.S. and Canada and will help Subway franchisees collectively save more than $20 million per year. The platform also allows Subway to match its customers with their payments in real time, creating opportunities for individualized marketing and personalized relationships.
“We’re going to be able to recognize customers by the cards they use and provide them with special offers right on the receipt at the point of purchase based on their purchasing patterns and habits,” says George Labelle, IPC’s chief information officer. “By understanding the needs of our customers on an individual basis, we can drive sales and profits.”
In the markets where this system has been tested, Labelle says, Subway franchisees have already seen increased revenues of 10.2 percent.
But Jeff Shanahan, president at payment processor CardConnect, says the move means Subway may be taking on a financial risk for all of its franchisees.
“From a software technical perspective, there’s always going to be a challenge to ensure that the system is 100 percent available,” he says. “If the system goes down, then the merchants are not able to accept payment, and that can be a disaster.”
Labelle says this challenge has been a concern for Subway. “We’re now in the business of operating a 24/7, mission-critical processing platform that can never go down,” he says. “That requires a lot of specialized expertise and knowledge, and that will always be a challenge for us, especially as the brand continues to grow.”
Fortunately, the brand hasn’t received any negative feedback from franchisees, Labelle says, which means the system is working.
“Franchisees swipe a credit card and the next day they receive payment in their bank account, so it’s business as usual for them,” he says. “Twenty million dollars is a lot of money, and our franchisees are very excited about those savings.”