Mobile Pay: Think, Plan, Act

Every day new technology is being developed to make our lives easier. Apps can be downloaded and information can be uploaded, but trying to keep up with the demands of the Digital Age often means that people and resources are overloaded.

Though some might want to close their eyes, feign indifference, or ignore the latest call for updated technology, there is a new service in town you will want to prepare for, it’s called mobile payments. What if customers didn’t use credit cards (or cash) to pay for their meals at your restaurant? What if they could simply press a button to pay?

Online access is becoming the new normal for restaurant customers who look up menus, read online reviews and get directions. They are increasingly expanding their demand for online services to include making dinner reservations, ordering online, and paying for their meals.

This brings us to mobile payments. Payment by mobile devices is rapidly increasing, and not just among the younger generation. The National Restaurant Association Technology Innovations Consumer Survey (2014) reports that 15 percent of regular consumers (those who use smartphones or tablets at least once a month) between the ages of 18-34 use technology to pay for their meals. Close behind is the 35-44 age group at 13 percent.

These numbers are worth our notice. The shift to mobile payments will rival, no, it will surpass, the cash-to-card shift of the past. The credit card transition in the restaurant business took more than 15 years, but it is estimated that the mobile payment shift will be completed in less than three years.

A “connected” nation

The National Restaurant Association Technology Innovations Consumer Survey (2014) shows that 70 percent of all adults own or use smartphones or tablets. Of course, the 18-34 year old demographic is the highest group of smartphone or tablet owners, but not until age 64+ does the percentage dip below 60 percent. Technomic, a research company focusing on the food industry, found that younger customers were embracing mobile payments at a faster pace than other age  groups. Overall 39 percent of consumers reported being interested in mobile payments, but 56 percent of consumers in the 25-34 year age bracket said they would be interested and, even more remarkable, 33 percent said they expect to be able to use their smartphones to pay at restaurants.

Preparing for the fast-growing mobile payment technology needs to be at the top of your to-do list while anticipating your customers’ need for speed, demand for convenience, and eagerness to use the latest technology. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast, nearly 25 percent of consumers say technology options feature into their decisions to choose a particular restaurant. Keeping millennial customers satisfied is just one reason to embrace new mobile payment options.

Starting the Process

So you want to jump on board? But where do you start? What’s the difference between an Apple app and one that can be accessed on an Android device? What is Google Wallet? Who do you go to create an app? Do you use a third-party service or develop a proprietary smartphone app in-house?

The best place to learn all about this new technology is the upcoming RLPSA Annual Conference, August 2-5, 2015, at the M Resort Spa and Casino in Las Vegas. This is a great opportunity to access best-practices and benchmarking data, network with your peers, and get solutions for dealing with the industry’s toughest challenges. The conference is a forum where ideas take shape through education and inspiration. To gather the current information you need about mobile payments, attend the breakout session: The Mobility of Fraud: Understanding the Challenges of Mobile, Virtual and E-pay Initiatives headed by David Johnston, Sr. Director, Loss Prevention & Corporate Security, Dunkin’ Brands and Michael Loox, Director Loss Prevention, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Topics such as Apple Pay, mobile ordering, and loyalty and virtual payment programs will be covered.

Many restaurants thinking about merging into the mobile payment fast lane are eager to investigate mobile payment solutions that can incorporate other services such as ordering online, loyalty programs, or reward incentives.

Here are some of real-life examples of how mobile payment apps can connect you with your customers beyond just paying for their meal.

  1. Chicago-based Wow Bao’s mobile payment app includes online ordering, gift card purchases, and a loyalty program that rewards customers with points for each dollar they spend.
  2. Poquito Mas reports “an immediate increase of over 50 percent in online takeout orders” and says as phone orders come through the app, taking orders gets more efficient.
  3. Panera Bread Co. fast tracked its Rapid Pick-Up (RPU) to give to-go customers the convenience of ordering and paying for meals via the mobile app while designating a time for pick up from the pickup shelves without having to stand in line.
  4. Wendy’s accepts mobile payments via its “My Wendy’s” smartphone app at 5,800 U.S. units and Burger King’s mobile payment option is available at 7,000 U.S. locations.

Think, Plan, Act

Mobile payment is great for tableside checkout, curbside pick-up, catering, and delivery. But going forward into the mobile payment world is a big decision to make. The National Restaurant Association is committed to working with the new technology to benefit restaurant owners. It has called for a “development of standards” for mobile payment systems and cites the new competition for payment options as a way to keep electronic payment fees low.

As a final note … before you consider taking the leap into the mobile payment process, consider these tips from National Restaurant Association partner Heartland Payment Systems:

  1. Select your mobile-payment partner wisely.
  2. Evaluate functionality.
  3. Prioritize security.
  4. Do the math.

 Want to learn more? 

Come see us at the RLPSA Annual Conference, August 2-5, 2015, at the M Resort Spa and Casino in Las Vegas. We’ll be there to inform and inspire you as you navigate the looming mobile payment landscape.

Michael Loox, CFI, Director of Loss Prevention & Risk, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Michael started his loss prevention and security career 25 years ago with the New York Yankees, managing security operations while working on his B.S and M.A. degrees in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

After moving to California, Michael worked in the luxury sector for several years with Barneys New York and Gucci before becoming the Loss Prevention Director for Prada. In 2004 Michael joined Z Gallerie in a similar position before accepting the challenge of developing a loss prevention department for The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in 2009. Michael currently serves as West Coast Chapter Chairman for the International Association of Interviewers.   He is also active in the RLPSA by serving on the Board of Directors and working with various committees, including as the 2015 Planning Committee Chair.