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Mobile Payments: What Restaurant Marketers Need to Know

post_mobilePay_phoneMobile money.  Mobile wallet.  Over the past few years, the mobile payments landscape has exploded.  Not only have big technology players like PayPal, Google, and Apple made investments in mobile payment software systems, but worldwide mobile payment transactions climbed to $235.4 billion in 2013. They’re poised to grow another 38% this year, according to estimates of IT research firm, Gartner.[i]  This proves that consumers are rapidly embracing the technology. 

What are the Benefits of Mobile Payments?

From the perspective of the consumer, mobile payment systems provide convenience.  Many consumers are already familiar with the Starbucks mobile payment application, which they can download to their Smartphone and link to a credit or debit card.  Once they have the application, it’s easy to pay for their purchases by scanning their Smartphone.  Some QSRs are going further by linking mobile payment systems to online ordering so that guests don’t have to stand in line for anything.  For restaurant operators, it’s not just an opportunity to provide guests with better service and more convenience. The “stealth” value comes from the direct access to data about their guests.  Restaurant marketers can glean insights into guest behavior and use those insights to drive more sales.   The potential payoff is enticing investments from restaurant technology players like OpenTable, who recently announced a pilot program that allows guests to pay with their phone while sitting at the table, without having to call for the check.

How Should Restaurant Marketers Prepare?

Given the growth of mobile payments and increasing consumer adoption, restaurant marketers need to start thinking about the implications for their businesses, if they aren’t already experimenting with the technology.  Right now the marketplace is in a state of flux, and the winners aren’t yet obvious.  But it’s coming.  So what should restaurant marketers focus on today?post_mobilePay_pensiveDigby

  1. First, think about how consumers would use mobile payments in your restaurant. The more you can solve a consumer problem, the more value you’ll create, which will drive adoption. 
  2. Follow technology developments.  Right now, the landscape is littered with apps, hardware, and software systems.  Watch for the standouts.
  3. Prepare to leverage the data.  Mobile payment technology offers a big opportunity for restaurant marketers to gain insights into guest behavior.  Get ready to analyze and use the data to build guest relationships and loyalty.

[i] “Easy Mobile Payments are Almost Here,” Bloomberg Businessweek, November 14, 2013.