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Dunkin’ Donuts cracks open Apple Pay as holiday sales heat up

Although Dunkin’ Donuts is a latecomer to Apple Pay, the chain’s decision to integrate the solution into its application will likely prompt digital sales to grow during the holiday season.

As of December 7, Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app users will be able to reload their account balances via the iOS-enabled payment platform. Fans of the brand may also purchase or gift Dunkin’ Donuts cards to other guests, meaning that consumers seeking the perfect present for their coffee-loving friend or family member could conceivably turn to mobile to buy a virtual gift.

“Dunkin’ Donuts has become more mobile, and has successfully distinguished itself as a mobile-friendly food company,” said Guillaume Lelait, general manager at Fetch, San Francisco. “It has recently released mobile ordering, as well as delivery.

“These are services that consumers truly value from their favorite companies,” he said. “As for integrating Apple Pay into its marketing plan; Dunkin’ Donuts has chosen the most appropriate time to implement Apple Pay.

“Apple Pay has had some difficulty getting up and running. However, it has fixed all of the recent glitches and is now readily more available with many retailers.”

On-the-go payments
The very nature of fast food chains and quick service marketers lends itself well to contactless payments on mobile. Consumers stopping in to a Dunkin’ Donuts location to purchase their morning coffee and breakfast are frequently strapped for time, seeking ways to minimize long lines and be on their way in mere minutes.

The growing consumer demand for fast and secure payment options has led a flurry of food and beverage marketers to adopt several payment solutions, including Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. When paired with mobile order-ahead capabilities, this strategy greatly reduces time spent in-store and also may help improve efficiency for employees.

“Retailers that want to get consumers to transact need to make the process as seamless as possible,” said Shuli Lowy, marketing director of mobile at Ping Mobile, New York. “Any KPI-focused marketer understands that every additional step in a checkout process decreases the number of people who make it to the finish line.

“We need to look no farther than the Starbucks app to see how much can be transacted by a well-designed payment gateway,” she said. “The Starbucks app has over 14 million monthly active users and processes over eight million payment transactions per week.

“The incredible performance of the Starbucks app has certainly put the pressure for others in the same vertical to step up their game and create better mobile payments systems.”

Dunkin’ Donuts customers who own an iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus or iPhone 6s Plus are now able to pay via the Dunkin’ mobile app instead of with cash or credit cards. Users may buy, gift or reload Dunkin’ cards to purchase desired food, beverages and merchandise, all of which will be paid for in a secure manner.

When users add their credit or debit card to Apple Pay, actual card numbers will not be stored on Apple’s servers or the actual smartphone. A unique device account number will be assigned and encrypted on the individual’s device, while transactions will be authorized via a one-time dynamic security code.

Consumers can access Apple Pay with fingerprint authentication, making it simple to conduct a payment.

Dunkin’ Donuts hopes the Apple Pay integration will further highlight the brand’s dedication to helping on-the-go customers enjoy its suite of items at any time of day, in the most convenient way possible.

“While Apple Pay is not quite mainstream yet, it’s something that many Dunkin’ Donuts customers will be familiar with at this point,” said James McNally, senior manager of business development at Prolific Interactive, Brooklyn, NY. “Frankly, the only better time for Dunkin’ Donuts to implement Apple Pay would have been sooner.

“Dunkin’ Donut’s core mission is providing quick access to coffee and snacks, and anything that makes path to purchase faster or more convenient is a win.”

Latching on to trends
A slew of popular food and beverage chains have been the first to offer consumers the option of paying for their orders via mobile.

Starbucks integrated Apple Pay this past February, permitting quick reloading of the coffee retailer’s loyalty cards and sending more money into its app while burnishing its lead in mobile payments (see story). Meanwhile, other quick service chains, such as Panera Bread, have also adopted the technology, proving its importance in the sector.

Mobile payment options are also needed for any marketer looking to provide order-ahead capabilities, a feature which many customers are now clamoring for.

Dunkin’ Donuts rolled out mobile ordering and delivery services in mid-November for Portland and Dallas residents, respectively, highlighting its dedication to staying competitive with Starbucks by targeting on-the-go consumers (see story).

“Dunkin’ Donuts can expect a surge of card reloads as people try out the Apple Pay integration within the app,” said Scott Michaels, vice president of client engagement at ArcTouch. “One reason Dunkin’ Donuts probably did this is that Apple Pay does not work from mobile Web, so a native app for iOS is a required piece of the puzzle.

“Those consumers who have the app use it for the rewards program and therefore motivated to keep a positive balance on the reloadable card.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York