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How On The Border gets mobile payments right

On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina is promoting its recent foray into mobile payments and educating customers about how to take control of their dining experience via in-store signage that showcases the necessary steps and convenience of paying via smartphones.

The restaurant chain recently integrated NCR Corporation’s mobile payment solutions to enable diners to pay the bill on their personal devices at their leisure and refrain from waiting for their server. Now, the brand is putting up in-store signage on tables to ensure that all consumers are aware of this offering and also understand how to use it, a move which other food marketers would be well-advised to follow.

“Mobile pay in the near term will be something operations implement to differentiate themselves in the market as a way to address customers’ desire to control more of their dining experience, improve convenience, and address the desire for security as the physical card no longer needs to be taken out of the customers’ sight,” said Tony Diaz, product manager of mobile pay, NCR Corporation, Duluth, GA.

Educating customers
After surveying its guests to find that 70 percent claimed mobile payment abilities would be appealing, On The Border decided to implement the NCR solution in all of its corporate restaurants. Consumers can now complete the bill-paying process on mobile instead of with their server, and may also sign up for the brand’s email club, Club Cantina, at the same time.

While mobile pay is sure to resonate with plenty of time-strapped restaurant-goers, especially those pertaining to the millennial demographic, On The Border is taking its awareness initiative one step further by offering signage on tables to demonstrate how the experience works.

Customers are directed to visit the mobile-optimized site to input the code found on their receipt and follow the given instructions to pay via credit card. Those who prefer to circumvent going to the site may instead scan the QR code found on the signage or on their receipts to finish the bill-paying process.

Many of On The Border’s guests may not be aware of this new capability, or may feel uncomfortable attempting it for the first time with no directions. However, having the step-by-step instructions laid out on the table may fuel more consumers to pay with their smartphones rather than their physical wallets.

Other similar chains that offer mobile payment solutions should also ensure they have in-store signage to spread awareness of the feature and prevent confusion among consumers.

Mobile payments’ rise
Mobile payments are continuing to rise from strength to strength, especially as third-party booking and payment applications such as OpenTable take off with customers. However, more national chain restaurants are equipping their locations with iPads on tables to offer customers an easy way to order and pay, as well as sign up for loyalty programs.

Fellow casual dining chain Chili’s is serving up a double helping of mobile with plans for a new loyalty program that will integrate with the chain’s order-and-pay tablets as well as a new service for texting guests when their reserved tables are ready (see story).

On The Border does not yet offer tablet devices in-store, but hopes that its customers can see the value and convenience that mobile payments offer to them and the restaurant staff.

“Guests can see their check in real-time and can quickly alert the server to any inaccuracies they may see,” Mr. Diaz said. “Guests can also pay when they are ready rather than having to wait for the server to return to the table with a check.

“Server steps are also streamlined: they are alerted when the check is paid and servers don’t need to open a check, enter the tip and send up the new amount.”

The quick experience will also contribute to cementing customer loyalty and gathering important data.

“NCR Mobile Pay in and of itself will likely not drive major numbers of new guests, but the desire is to raise repeat traffic and provide other features to drive value (loyalty, survey, etc.),” Mr. Diaz said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York