ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

Chick-Fil-A aims to pick up US mobile payment steam with pilot program

Chick-Fil-A is piloting a mobile application in six markets within the United States that leverages check-ins and payments.

As more quick-service restaurants rely on mobile as a way to drive quick orders while also bolstering loyalty, Chick-Fil-A is taking a page from the playbooks of other QSRs testing mobile payments, including Wendy’s, KFC and McDonald’s. The app is being piloted in six cities at one Chick-Fil-A location per city: Chicago; Crystal City, VA; West Palm Beach, FL; Pearland, TX; Atlanta and Costa Mesa, CA.

“Brands like Chick-Fil-A have incredibly devoted fans,” said Li-at Karpel Gurwicz, marketing director at Conduit MobileFoster City, CA.

“In a crowded marketplace of QSRs, a customized app that is made to order resonates with these diners, and provides mobile services that are instantly recognizable due to the distinct brand,” she said.

“The look and feel of an app is incredibly important for users. Just like the atmosphere and decor of a popular franchise, it can provide the consistency and user experience that customers come to recognize, identify with, and expect.”

Ms. Gurwicz is not affiliated with Chick-Fil-A. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

Chick-Fil-A did not meet press deadline

How it works
Consumers can download the Chick-Fil-A mobile payment app for free in Apple’s App Store.

The app prompts consumers to pick one of the six participating locations when it is first opened.

The full menu is then available for consumers to order from and food is separated by categories including salads, kid’s meals, combo meals and entrees.

Each menu item includes a picture of the item next to its price. There is also a text box that lets consumers type in any special requests.

When placing an order, consumers can choose for it to be picked up at curbside, carryout or dine-in.

Additionally, consumers can save their credit card information to speed up future mobile orders.

Consumers then use the app to check-in to a Chick-Fil-A location once they are nearby.

Once a consumer checks in at a location, a restaurant employee will bring the food order to the consumer if it is a curbside pick-up. Otherwise, the consumer can skip the line once inside the restaurant.

Another screenshot of the app

Branded approach
Chick-Fil-A also has an additional iPhone app that is a hub for nutritional information, promotions and store locator information.

What is unique about Chick-Fil-A’s mobile ordering efforts is that the chain has launched its stand-alone mobile app instead of integrating itself into a third-party mobile wallet or payment option such as Paypal or Isis.

Other brands besides Chick-Fil-A are also using stand-alone apps to get mobile payments to scale.

For example, Wendy’s rolled out mobile payments to its app earlier this year to test the technology in Portland, OR, Albuquerque, NM and Austin, TX (see story).

McDonald’s is running a variety of tests worldwide. Most recently the QSR rolled out its McD app to the New England area (see story).

Part of the reason why some QSRs choose to go this route is because of the data that brands can pick up through an app.

In Chick-Fil-A’s case, the brand can use the data collected in an app to serve up more customized, tailored experiences to consumers.

The app could also help the fast food chain build up its loyalty efforts by eventually rolling out exclusive mobile-only deals and offers.

“Because QSR patrons are on the go and fit a meal in where possible, mobile is really the only solution outside of standing in line in-store,” said John D. Fauller, chief operating officer at Snipp Interactive, Washington.

Mr. Fauller is not affiliated with Chick-Fil-A. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

“I see it becoming an indispensable tool for load prediction, decreasing wait times, retaining business, and learning about customer trends,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York