Wendy’s rolls out US mobile payment after Burger King

McDonald’s and others still testing Wendy’s is rolling out a program that lets customers pay using their smartphones at U.S. locations, following a similar plan unveiled by Burger King this week. The Wendy’s Co., based in Dublin, Ohio, has been testing the mobile payment option over the past year and said the majority of its […]

McDonald’s and others still testing

Wendy’s is rolling out a program that lets customers pay using their smartphones at U.S. locations, following a similar plan unveiled by Burger King this week.

The Wendy’s Co., based in Dublin, Ohio, has been testing the mobile payment option over the past year and said the majority of its roughly 5,800 U.S. locations are now ready to accept the payments.

The move reflects a push by fast-food chains to court younger customers by tapping into the attachment they have to their phones.

“If they want to come in and give us business, we want to allow them to pay the way they want to pay,” Craig Bahner, chief marketing officer for Wendy’s, said in a phone interview.

Burger King Worldwide also said this week it would introduce a mobile payment program at its U.S. restaurants in April.

McDonald’s, meanwhile, has acknowledged the importance of mobile payments but is still in a testing phase after hiring its first chief digital officer this past October.

The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is known in the industry for its meticulous planning of any changes. But at a recent investor conference, Chief Financial Officer Pete Bensen noted it would have to do things that were “a little bit unnatural for McDonald’s” to stay on top of digital trends.

“We’re going to have to put some things out there that we know are not 100% perfect. But if you wait in this space until everything is 100% figured out, then you’re going to miss the whole opportunity,” he said.

McDonald’s isn’t alone in still figuring out exactly how it wants to approach mobile payments and loyalty programs. Chipotle is still experimenting with the options as well.

In the meantime, Starbucks is pushing to get more customers to sign up for its app and loyalty program and says 14 per cent of all purchases now come from mobile payments. Executives at the coffee chain say customers who sign up for the app tend to visit more often.

“You look at the numbers that Starbucks puts out, and it’s pretty amazing,” said Brandon Rhoten, vice-president of digital at Wendy’s.

It’s not clear whether the impact Starbucks sees in mobile would translate to fast-food chains, since coffee is more of a daily fix. But Rhoten said Wendy’s saw promising trends in tests, including increased visits.

To pay with the Wendy’s app, customers tap the app to pull up a six-digit number they tell the cashier, rather than holding up their device to a scanner. Burger King also said its app will give customers a four-digit number they tell cashiers to make a payment.

“That’s a real benefit when you think about cars going through pickup windows,” Bahner said.

The rollout comes as Wendy’s works to revamp its image to be more in line with chains like Panera Bread, which charge a little more than traditional fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King. That push has included remodeling of its restaurants to have a more inviting feel, as well as the addition of menu items such as the Pretzel Bacon Burger that command higher prices.

Brands Articles

Diageo’s ‘Crown on the House’ brings tasting home

After Johnnie Walker success, Crown Royal gets in-home mentorship

Survey says Starbucks has best holiday cup

Consumers take sides on another front of Canada's coffee war

KitchenAid embraces social for breast cancer campaign

Annual charitable campaign taps influencers and the social web for the first time

Heart & Stroke proclaims a big change

New campaign unveils first brand renovation in 60 years

Best Buy makes you feel like a kid again

The Union-built holiday campaign drops the product shots

Volkswagen bets on tech in crisis recovery

Execs want battery-powered cars, ride-sharing to 'fundamentally change' automaker

Simple strategies for analytics success

Heeding the 80-20 rule, metrics that matter and changing customer behaviors

Why IKEA is playing it up downstairs

Inside the retailer's Market Hall strategy to make more Canadians fans of its designs

Metrolinx launches public education campaign

New campaign from Grey intends to drive awareness of approximately 500 projects