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Mobile payment plays big role in restaurant omnichannel digital experience

Mobile payment, whether in-store or on the fly, is taking deeper root across several industries, from banking to retail and now in the restaurant segment. The ability to let customers pay when and wherever is increasingly being viewed as a key element in driving the ever-crucial and expected, omnichannel digital experience and as two leading fast casual brands relate it's making a difference when it comes to sales, marketing and customer loyalty.

Cowboy Chicken-Wood Fired Rotisserie and Modern Market are fast casual brands focused on very different dining segments in different geographic markets: Cowboy Chicken is a 27-year-old Dallas-based rotisserie chain known for its wood-fired chicken and homemade side dishes; Colorado-based Modern Market, founded in 2009, serves health-focused dishes at over two dozen locations across five states.

What the successful brands do have in common is breaking the code on creating an omnichannel digital experience.

An engaging multi-channel digital customer experience (which includes interacting with customers via web, app, social media and mobile) is a mandate given as today's dining consumer is increasingly expecting — and nearly demanding — a fast, seamless, efficient digital option when it comes to ordering food, enjoying food and having food delivered.

And, just as increasingly, customers are expecting to make all that happen via a mobile device — digital ordering is fast outpacing dining-in; digital customers spend 30 percent more on an order than a dine-in guest.

Those statistics illustrate why fast casuals must embrace an omnichannel digital strategy, according to Allyson Klineman, director of agency services at LevelUp.

Klineman moderated a panel on the topic, "How to create an omnichannel digital experience that drives customer engagement, retention and spend," during the three-day Fast Casual Executive Summit held last week at the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington.

The summit, run by Fast Casual's parent company, Networld Media Group, draws restaurant executives interested in learning and networking via interactive sessions. LevelUp, the session sponsor, is an omnichannel mobile ordering and mobile payments platform that connects restaurants and guests with a customer experience that blends analytics, loyalty, and rewards.

Wrangling up a rewarding CX

Cowboy Chicken customers are now tapping the Cowboy Chicken app (built in partnership with LevelUp) and launched in 2017, to order ahead and pay with their phone all while earning rewards.

The app was updated this year to give users more options for registering, payment and redeeming rewards and streamline the processes.

It's also letting the brand, which has been included in Fast Casual's Top 100 Movers & Shakers list every year since 2012, and has 28 locations, track more customer data — from purchase history and frequency to location of visits and promotion redemption.

The enhanced app reflects Cowboy Chicken's passion for excellence and illustrates how valuable the customer is to the brand, according to Cowboy Chicken CEO and President Sean Kennedy.

"We're still cooking with wood, the old fashion way, but our technology is sophisticated," Kennedy said during the panel discussion, adding that the app, as well as other technology such as email, is a channel of communication with guests.

"The goal is to sell more chicken but the space changes so quickly and we need ways to interact with the customer to stay relevant and be where the customer wants to order. All these elements work together," he said.

The brand's latest digital effort is the Cowboy Chicken ‘Pronto Pickup' that lets customers order and pay ahead. The brand offered a small incentive on launch.

"There was a 98 percent redemption rate. One of our best successes," said Kennedy.

The success is spurring Cowboy Chicken to spend more on digital experience given the big return — it's gaining greater and deeper customer insight.

Cowboy Chicken is also hoping lessons learned from Pronto will prove useful in spurring mobile app adoption. The brand's 40,000 app users account for 6 percent of transactions.

"We want to boost that," said Kennedy.

But that's not the lone digital focus.

"Our goal is to engage with the guest, create a relationship. That's key and the goal. We want the guest to become a frequent guest and that's where this technology plays into," Kennedy said, adding the ability to capture and analyze data is helping to enhance the digital experience.

"We can then reach out [depending on the guest interaction] and say thank you or email an appreciation note to the top 100 guests," he explained.

Noting the success of pizza brand Domino's and its popular app, Kennedy said Cowboy Chicken hopes to succeed on the same level.

"It's [Dominos] easy to order, easy to engage. We are revamping our system to make it easy to order and easy to pay. That's our goal."

Bridging systems is paying off

At Modern Market, which is celebrating its first decade and has over 30 units across several states, the digital experience strategy is very similar to Cowboy Chicken's: make it was easy as possible to interact with the guest and make ordering payment and delivery as easy as possible.

Modern Market offers users of its LevelUp-designed app extra perks through special promotions (i.e. users get a free trial offer on new menu items) and doles out incentives to users interacting with the brand via its social media channels as well. The brand has installed digital menu boards at its locations to drive interaction with guests in-store.

Last year Modern Market focused on creating a new website and integrating loyalty into its online ordering process — a quest to drive loyalty participation, according to Brian Anderson, director of technology, who participated in the summit panel discussion.

"We are seeing growth with this new architecture to bridge two systems," he said, adding the digital efforts are also fueling data gathering and analysis. The data analysis is proving useful in gaining insight on what's driving guest activity, such as promotion redemption, in the store or online.

Such a ‘bridging' strategy, according to Stephen Dutton, senior analyst, Consumer Foodservice, Euromonitor International, is critical for fast casual brand success.

"The digital and the traditional [experience] go hand in hand and it's not going away," he told the panel audience.

In fact, at Modern Market, traditional marketing is being driven by digitally-generated data, noted Anderson.

And, as for Cowboy Chicken, metrics and measurement of the digital experience technology impact is a key factor at Modern Market. The brand is tracking app usage as well as the app's impact on traffic to its stores.

"It all comes down to engagement and how you use the [digital] strategy to differentiate yourself," said Anderson. "It lets us make better decisions. It's letting us meet customers at the place the customer wants to interact and engage."

Copyright Networld Media Group DBA Networld Alliance, LLC Oct 30, 2018


This article was written by Judy Mottl from Mobile Payments Today. News Features and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.