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Burger King builds mobile platform to quickly scale up in payments


Burger King leaps to the head of the class in mobile with a significant commitment via a new digital platform that will enable it to quickly scale up with mobile offers, payments, order-ahead and other features.

Quick-service restaurants have been aggressively pursuing mobile strategies to support customer loyalty, with payments viewed as critical to the winning formula. While a variety of mobile loyalty and payments schemes are being piloted by McDonald’s, Wendy’s and others, Burger King claims to be the first legacy, fast food hamburger restaurant chain to enable digital coupons and offers on a national basis.

“When used and implemented, mobile payments provide advantages to both, the brand and the consumer, enabling a two-way dialogue as opposed to a one-way transaction,” said Perse Faily, CEO of Tillster, San Diego, CA. “For consumers, they are able to utilize a convenient easy way to pay for their goods and opt-in to additional services that brands are developing , with Tillster’s help, such as loyalty programs, exclusive coupons and other engagement tools.”

Burger King is partnering with Tillster to develop the app,

Scalable digital platform
Mobile loyalty and payments are viewed as critical for fast food chains as they look to retain younger consumers who are active on their smartphones.

The app is built on a scalable digital platform, with the digital coupons available in all locations. These will consist of national offers as well as market-specific and personalized offers for registered users.

Coupons will be personalized based on product preferences, times of visit and favorite locations.

The couponing feature will be launched in April and is expected to be available in all of the chain’s 7,000-plus locations within the next few months.

Order-ahead functionality coming
The mobile payments capability will be available in “a sizable number” of outposts, according to a statement from Burger King.

The app will also feature a store locator with multiple filters, store menu and nutritional information.

The chain expects to add additional functionality over time, such as order-ahead capabilities and gamification features.

One of the challenges with mobile payments for large franchise operations such as Burger King is fitting the solution to the operational needs of its various franchisees.

In Burger King’s case, the platform required minimal hardware and software investment from most franchisees and is available for use regardless of which approved POS system is in use, according to the company.

BK Crown Card
The chain hopes to leverage the app to learn about customers’ in-restaurant buying habits and use this information to improve the guest experience.

Burger King also plans to use the app to survey customers to their opinions of products, promotions and restaurant experiences.

The mobile payments solution will work with restaurants that have an integrated and approved point-of-sale system. Franchisees will need to take a few steps in order to accept mobile payments, per Burger King.

From the consumer perspective, once users register, they will automatically receive a virtual card. They can load value onto the card or link physical cards with the app.

To pay, users click “Pay with BK Crown Card” directly from the wallet or, if they are redeeming a coupon, they click through from the coupon.

The app then generates a unique 4-digit code, which a cashier enters and the payment is immediately deducted from the user’s card balance.

Understanding purchase habits
Following Starbucks significant success with mobile payments and loyalty, quick-service chains have been moving quickly to catch up with the coffee house chain.

McDonald’s is testing several different mobile solutions for supporting loyalty, ordering and payments (see story).

In February, Dunkin’ Donuts began a national roll out of its new mobile loyalty and payments program (see story).

Subway, Wendy’s and KFC are also at varying stages with their own mobile payments strategies.

“The brand receives a commitment from the consumer as there has been an increase in brand loyalty where mobile payments are used,” Ms. Faily said. “Additionally, it is better able to track payments and provide value added services to consumer by understanding their purchase habits.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily