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British merchants embrace order-ahead functionality via Q App

Merchants offering order ahead capabilities via mobile application Q App are seeing a positive impact on both the customer experience and venue operations.

A recent Mobile Commerce Daily article discussed how a number of digital wallet providers are adding order ahead capabilities to their own branded apps and suggested these capabilities are not likely to be a killer mobile wallet use case thanks to several challenges (see story). However, a Q App executive argues that by creating a larger ecosystem around order ahead, it can in fact be the basis of a mobile wallet with strong consumer appeal.

“I would argue that the problem does not lie with the concept itself – but with execution that many in this space haven’t quite got right yet,” said Serge Taborin, CEO of Q App.

“Our success has been based on the very fact that we’ve created a larger ecosystem, so that the customer creates a profile once and can then use Q App in any participating venue,” he said “This is further underpinned by our ability to attract some huge venues that generate loads of downloads and a number of ‘everyday’ venues that make it worthwhile to continue using the app.

“Not only have we helped materially increase the number of orders processed, but have also increased the average order value, while in places like sports stadia we are also tapping into new customers – those who typically want to purchase, but decide not to because the lines are too long.”

A broader focus
Q App works with some of the largest venues in Britain, including major concert halls, soccer stadiums, theaters, fast food outlets, bars, nightclubs and coffee shops.

Once consumers have downloaded the app, they are able to select the establishment where they want to place an order from a list of participating venues. Users can then browse the menu, create an order and pay with a credit card.
Users receive an alert on their phone when their order is ready to be picked up, go to the dedicated Q App area and show their unique code on their phone to the staff.

The app also saves past orders so user can easily re-order with one click. It is currently in place at the Palace Theatre, Royal Albert Hall, The Queens Club and the Members Bar of London’s Southbank Centre arts complex as well as a number of pubs.

Q app takes a commission on transactions and features in-app advertising.

U.S. challenges
In the United States, where mobile payments have been slower to take off than expected, order ahead functionality is being embraced by digital wallet providers such as Square and PayPal and by merchants such Subway, Walmart to Go and Starbucks in their own digital wallets.

These companies are betting that enabling consumers to place orders ahead of their arrival at a restaurant or other merchant location so it is ready when they arrive will drive adoption by adding value that is unique to mobile. However, with a small pool of appropriate merchants and inherent operational challenges, such functionality may not provide the boost wallet providers are hoping for.

“Where I think the issue is with some of the other products in this space is that they’ve been too focused on either their own brand or a particular market segment,” Mr. Taborin said.

“It’s easy to see why this won’t work for the customers – none of us will have an app on our phone for every store we go to,” he said.

“Imagine the world where you would need a different credit card for every store or even a card for fast food, another one for coffee etc!”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York