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The Cheesecake Factory snacks on mobile payments with app pilot

The Cheesecake Factory is piloting a new application that enables diners to split and pay the bill via their smartphones, as well as receive a complimentary slice of cheesecake upon sign-up, pointing to restaurants’ growing interest in mobile payments.

The CakePay mobile app, which is only available in select markets, prevents customers from having to wait for their server to check out and leave a tip. These functions can be completed directly on mobile devices to ensure that the dining experience remains as tailored to consumers as possible, a strategy that will likely attract time-strapped individuals.

“Having an app is a great branding opportunity for The Cheesecake Factory on the app storefront,” said Gary Schwartz, CEO and president of Impact Mobile, New York. “However, the winners in mobile payment-as-a-convenience are the ‘Uber’ apps.

“Uber-ubiquitous payment aggregators of multiple or specialized industry verticals: Cover, Tab, Swipely.”

Streamlining bill-paying
Servers who are busy with tables during peak dining times will also appreciate the CakePay app’s abilities, as they can remove the tasks of bringing a printed bill to customers and waiting for them to choose their method of payment.

Instead, consumers may add their preferred credit card to their accounts and view their order summary. The order summary feature makes it simple for guests to add a friend to the bill and divide costs per person, or split the check evenly among the entire dining party.

This tool will be able to help servers avoid printing out multiple personal bills or engaging in the tricky process of splitting food items after a group order has been placed.

Customers can select the exact amount they are responsible for paying, which may also eliminate squabbles or hassles at the table. They may stay as little or as long as they would like at the table, as they can check out via the CakePay app at any point during the meal.

Once the payment has been processed, the app will display a confirmation page and offer a link to a quick survey to gauge customer feedback.

The restaurant industry has been turning to mobile with increased fervor as of late.

Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, the parent company of Brio Tuscan Grille, has joined forces with Paytronix to offer a new Eat, Repeat, Reward loyalty program on its updated mobile app that also leverages enhanced employee training tools (see story).

Tablet devices are also proving to act as valuable table companions. Olive Garden is the latest restaurant chain to employ tablets in its bricks-and-mortar locations, enabling customers to order and pay via the devices, suggesting that mobile has a strong role to play in increasing tip percentages for servers (see story).

Opportunity for loyalty
Consumers who first download the CakePay app for their Android or iOS devices and use it to check out will receive a complimentary slice of the restaurant’s famous cheesecake. Users must check-in to a Cheesecake Factory bricks-and-mortar location and show the unique code to their server to redeem the promotion.

This serves as an enticing way of encouraging customers to try out the app. Mobile rewards have proven to be successful in the restaurant space, particularly when used as incentives for testing out a new service.

The Cheesecake Factory would also be well-suited to integrate further rewards options into the CakePay app, as mobile payments and loyalty go hand-in-hand in many consumers’ eyes. This would further user engagement and ensure that guests do not delete the app after redeeming their code for free cheesecake.

Additionally, customers may tap CakePay to view all menu items and their respective descriptions, as well as place orders for takeout.

“No doubt, Cheesecake Factory fans will download the app for the free slice for using CakePay,” Mr. Schwartz said. “The question is which folder will the Cake Pay be lost in within the month.”

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