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Why fast food can be the leader in mobile shopping

By Jérémie Leroyer

Popping up in the United States over the last few years, food trucks have lured the lunch crowds of major metropolitan cities with their personal charm, unique ability to be in front of customers at the right time and acceptance to adopting new technologies to make their businesses more relevant. There is a lot we can learn from their approach to doing business.

Due to the inherent space problem with food trucks, with barely enough room to cook, and much less space for bulky cash registers, the industry has been one of the quickest to adopt mobile payment technology out of necessity.

Trucking with
Through mobile payments, these vendors only need a few small devices to efficiently receive transactions from their hungry consumers and to sidestep the pitfall of “cash only.” By better meeting the needs of their clientele, food truck vendors have watched their lines shrink and profits expand.

Add the convenience of mobile payments to the natural small business charm and personal relationships these food trucks provide, and you start to see how they can be an enticing alternative to other fast-food options.

Almost by mistake, food trucks have stumbled onto an important piece of retail information: that leveraging technology to overcome issues in the customer journey is going to mean better customer relationships and that means higher sales.

However, the proactive actions from smaller vendors to meet the needs of an increasingly digital clientele have not yet been mimicked by many of the greats in U.S. fast food.

It is not that these fast-food vendors are actually doing something wrong, but many are seemingly reluctant to keep up with these modern mobile times.

Surely, larger vendors have more resources to explore the full capabilities of mobile technology, but yet so few actually are.

Parse strings
What is more is that these fast feeders are missing out on all of the amazing new opportunities that solutions such as the mobile wallet can create for initiating meaningful relationships with their customers and providing better customer service such as:

• Big Data and analysis of customer profile information enables the prediction of what a customer wants, when she wants it, and on which channel the information will best be received.

• New ordering features, such as mobile to store and delivery options, can eliminate in-store waiting and lines – one of the huge fast-food challenges that very often leads to customers taking their business elsewhere.

• Mobile loyalty rewards customers for their continued business in a relevant way with a mechanism that is always on hand, so customers are less liable to forget about the loyalty program or forget about the retailer.

• Geofencing allows for larger brands to connect directly with their loyal customers by letting them know when they are near a store, mimicking the ability of food trucks to drive to their patrons.

• Mobile couponing, which consumers are more eager than ever to both receive and redeem, can inspire purchases and in-store walk-ins that would not have even existed in the first place.

Food for thought
The answer to solving most problems in the fast-food business is adopting mobile, yet so often these age old problems are not even addressed.

To smaller food vendors, where every customer matters, the choice is simple: adopt a solution that solves that problem, or risk being left behind.

Slowly, certain fast-food brands are realizing this and are starting to adopt mobile technology to overcome the existing problems in the current fast-food customer journey.

For example, a wallet for KFC called Fast Track enables customers to order and pay from a block away, skip the line when they get to the store, and be on their way with fried chicken in hand almost immediately.

KEEPING WITH the same old practices that have worked for decades simply will not entice the new mobile-fixated consumer in the same way that it used to.

Fast food needs to – and can – become as fast as the world around it, and a leader in mobile shopping.

Jérémie Leroyer is CEO of Airtag, New York. Reach him at [email protected].