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Firebirds Wood Fired Grill entices millennials with mobile wallet integration

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill is integrating FreedomPay’s pay-at-table solution into its chain of restaurants, enabling tech-savvy diners to pay their bills via NFC mobile wallets such as Android Pay and Apple Pay.

As fast-casual chains ramp up their digital efforts to better cater to millennial diners, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill is ensuring that it stays relevant during point-of-sale by allowing customers to pay via smartphones or EMV chip-embedded credit cards. The brand is teaming up with FreedomPay’s solution, which is based on Ingenico Group’s platform, to support the rollout at its nationwide locations.

“Pay-at-the-table technology is already standard in other developed countries, and that’s mostly due to EMV,” said Greg Burch, vice president of strategic initiatives, North America for Ingenico Group. “In an EMV world, it’s best practice for cards to never leave the customer’s possession during a transaction.

“In the U.S., an additional driver is mobile payment solutions such as Apple Pay,” he said. “The payment method can’t come to the POS – customers aren’t going to turn over their PIN or smartphone – so the POS has to come to the customer.

“Ingenico Group is already seeing strong demand for pay-at-the-table solutions in the U.S., and believes this market will see substantial growth across all hospitality categories in 2016.”

Maximizing efficiency
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, which boasts 36 locations in 13 states, is likely hoping to boost efficiency on both the consumer and employee side of dining. Customers opting to pay via smartphones will be able to complete bill transactions at their leisure, without having to flag down their server.

The chain of casual restaurants, specializing in wood-fired cuisine such as seafood, is angling to differentiate itself from competitors by serving guests in an upscale, lodge-like setting. However, its quick adoption of mobile pay-at-the-table options may be the key discerning factor.

If the payment process is taken care of by contactless terminals, servers can instead spend their time checking on orders, speaking with diners and forging more long-lasting relationships with guests.

FreedomPay’s pay-at-the-table solution offers support for mobile wallet payments as well as EMV chip cards. Firebirds Wood Fired Grill sought to give consumers a plethora of secure payment options, especially for busy diners with less time to spare.

The move also comes on the heels of the United States’ decision to adopt EMV chip cards as standard payment formats. Consequently, restaurant marketers will need to enable diners to pay bills with EMV cards at terminal stations.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill will now accept mobile payments and EMV chip cards, and will continue allowing guests to use mag-stripe credit cards if they have not yet switched to chip cards.

FreedomPay claims that restaurateurs can anticipate checkout to quicken by as much as eight minutes when diners are able to pay at the table without needing a server to act as a go-between.

“Pay-at-the-table solutions benefit restaurants in many ways, including increasing table turns by cutting down on wait time, and that leads to higher revenue,” Mr. Burch said.

Combining services
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, alongside FreedomPay’s other participating merchants, will also be able to use the platform to offer consumers a slew of valuable perks. These include loyalty programs, various rewards and interactive tablet devices.

Incorporating tablets onto tabletops is a strategy that has been tapped by other major marketers in the food and beverage industry.

Last April, Olive Garden added tablets to its bricks-and-mortar locations, allowing customers to order and pay via the devices, proving that mobile has a strong role to play in streamlining the dining experience and increasing tip percentages for servers (see story).

Later that season, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina promoted its foray into mobile payments and educated consumers about how to take control of their dining experience via in-store signage that showcased the necessary steps and convenience of paying via smartphones (see story).

“Cutting down that wait time by bringing the payment device to the table not only leads to more table turns and increased face-time, but also higher customer satisfaction,” Mr. Burch said. “The result is better tips for servers.

“We witnessed this firsthand in Canada, where demand for pay-at-the-table increased shortly after that country’s EMV migration in 2010.”