It’s no secret that consumer expectations are on the rise. Seeing the sweeping success enjoyed by companies that focused on getting their customer experiences right, making them faster, more intuitive and more convenient. The smartest competitors in traditional industries have been making their own changes, sometimes by themselves but more often through successful partnerships with others.
MTY Food Group is one of the largest franchisors in the Canadian restaurant business, with over 2,600 quick service and casual dining locations in Canada across 48 distinct brands. Working with Interac and payment processor Moneris Solutions, as well as with an experienced technology provider Tacit Innovations, MTY developed BonApp – a mobile app that allows customers to choose a restaurant by brand and location, place an order, pay, and then pick up their meals without having to wait in line.
“The traditional model is walk up, order, pay, and walk away,” says Serge Poutchigian, VP Technology at MTY. “In a food court, you see people noticing the length of a line and walking away in frustration. That’s a lot of money walking away from you daily. We need to increase average ticket and same store sales. Strategically, this is very important to us; it’s not cheap to run a restaurant, and we need to maximize revenues to pay for increasing food, rent and labour costs. So we need to remove any obstacles to a sale.”
As Jeff Guthrie, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Moneris points out, this is part of a broader trend. “Mobile purchases account for over half of all ecommerce transactions, which is very important to the way businesses need to start looking at their payment options. We’re seeing more and more businesses looking at solutions like in-app payments to enable the self-commerce wants and needs of customers. The idea that someone can open an app on their phone, place their order, walk to the restaurant or coffee shop and simply pick up an order that’s already been paid for, avoid the lines and go about their business, that’s where the market is headed.”
While in-app payments can be connected to credit cards as sources of funds, MTY thinks that Interac Debit is especially important for its restaurants’ customers. “Millennials don’t use their credit cards often and don’t want to pay interest on the meal they just ate – so a debit transaction linked to their bank accounts is more convenient. They want to make sure their money is spent once, without recurring costs,” says Poutchigian. Moneris’ Guthrie agrees, noting that “as cash is driven out of the system, more people will rely on electronic payments for those fast, high-volume, low-cost transactions, specifically Interac as an alternative.”
While changing customer needs provided the spur to action, partnerships are what made the BonApp solution possible. Guthrie mentioned that “partnering allows us to be more than just a payment solution provider to merchants, it enables us to drive value in their business and help them run their day-to-day operations. We want to help them succeed and grow, and we don’t want merchants worrying about the next big thing in payments. That’s our job.”
[W]e don’t want merchants worrying about the next big thing in payments. That’s our job.
“MTY’s core business is running restaurant chains and supporting the franchise base, not building apps,” concurs Poutchigian. “We went with an experienced third party for app development. Early-adopter franchisees were already asking for this kind of capability when I arrived at MTY, and a third-party vendor could get us to market more quickly.”
Speed matters, because as MTY sees it, the market is only getting more demanding. “We’re seeing disruption already. Patrons want to interact with restaurants differently – just look at the kiosks at quick service restaurants, or waiters in fast casual restaurants with tablets in their hands. There’s the trend of checking in with Facebook and Instagram, and the kids eating at our restaurants are all on their phones.” Poutchigian pauses to remember. “I gave a young relative a gift card recently, and she asked if she could put it in her Apple wallet.”