Until recently dining out was an area relatively unaffected by the disruptive power of the mobile phone.
But more and more restaurant chains, large and small, are realising that they can let customers order their food, eat it and wander off without having to ask for the bill. Because, to borrow a digital cliché, “there’s an app for that”.
Last year we began working with wagamama, a fast-growing restaurant chain. Predominantly based in the UK, it serves fresh Asian food in a simple buzzy environment.
It has had more than 20 years of unbroken growth. Part of its “Kaizen” or “good change” ethos is using technology to enhance the customer experience.
On average diners have to wait nearly 12 minutes between asking for the bill and completing payment at restaurants. Wagamama found that the conventional method of bill payment was at odds with their fast nature of dining. This was confirmation that the payment element was the worst part of any restaurant experience.
We worked with wagamama to introduce Qkr!, a payments app connected to their Masterpass digital wallet. It enables diners to order and pay for things directly from their smartphone with any of their debit or cards, as well as split the bill, and even give a tip.
Waiters are less rushed and more attentive. Diners can spend more time eating and chatting but leave when they want to. And the restaurants themselves can seat more customers in as a result.
Freeing waiters from bill payment also gives restaurants the opportunity to be think more creatively about their layouts and their business models.
Qkr works in the a variety of dining and hospitality environments and established food chains such as Zizzi, Carluccio’s and ASK Italian have since adopted the technology. Young’s Pubs have also joined, seeing the potential not just for food order but also bar tabs. The goal is to build a thriving Qkr marketplace that includes a list of restaurants and retailers in addition to providing a seamless commerce experience via the restaurant’s branded app.
Next year over 1,000 restaurants and pubs will be using the technology in UK alone after we have rolled out the technology to new partners such as TGI Fridays, Byron Burger, and Individual Restaurants, which is responsible for a collection of 34 restaurants which includes those of celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo.
This revolution isn’t limited to the UK. In Italy, a country synonymous with passion for good food and eating out, we have recently partnered with Rossopomodoro and Roadhouse Grill to bring pay-at-table enabled by Masterpass to their customers.
All of the businesses we are working with have very different dining propositions. But what unites this diverse group is that they believe payment should not hinder a good experience. It should help it.