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BJ’s Restaurants looks to boost sales with new mpayments optionBy
BJ’s Restaurants has rolled out a mobile payments feature for its diners as it tries to boost sales and revenue after a challenging season.
The payments feature is currently available on a mobile Web site for premier loyalty members, but the chain plans to roll it out for non-members in the near future. Via the mobile site, guests can access an electronic bill and pay on their own schedule.
“We want to enable our guests to more directly participate in their dining experience,” said Brian Krakower, chief information officer of BJ’s Restaurants, Inc., Huntington Beach, CA. “With mobile payment they can choose when they view their check and pay for their meal so they don’t have to wait for the guest check to be delivered or hand their credit card and wait for the server to process it.
“Our guests are becoming much more familiar and comfortable with mobile commerce technology and the control that goes along with that,” he said.
“We wanted to be able to develop an experience that’s tailored to the BJ’s guest and we want to provide other benefits to them such as our ordering initiative or other things related to loyalty or reservations check-in, we thought it was best to develop our own platform.”
BJ’s Restaurants operates 147 casual dining restaurants as well as several microbreweries.
The mobile site lets consumers view their bill on their own time and pay when they prefer.
Consumers can choose to save a credit card to the cloud via a secure PCI-certified technology with encryption and tokenization. Alternatively, they can enter their payment information each time they dine at a BJ’s restaurant.
BJ’s is looking to integrate easier checkout methods such as PayPal and Google Wallet to make the process even easier for consumers.
The mobile site is integrated in the restaurants’ POS system so waiters are notified when consumers choose to pay on their own via the site.
BJ’s plans to add other mobile features such as loyalty, reservations and check-ins in the near future. It is also looking to create an app once it expands the program, but Mr. Krakower does not think that payments alone are enough to warrant a native app, especially when the functionality and speed is the same on a mobile site.
Mr. Krakower said that he expected to release an app in the third quarter.
BJ’s also plans to release an “order ahead” option for dine-in guests in the second half of 2014.
BJ’s has been experiencing a decrease in sales recently, and the company is hoping that the mobile payment feature will give the company the boost it needs.
For customers, mobile payments will add a level of intrigue and excitement to the restaurant experience, and it will also add the benefit of being able to pay whenever they want without having to wait for a waiter to notice them.
In addition to those consumer benefits, Mr. Krakower also pointed to tangible benefits the chain itself will see.
“We think a few things will happen, the guest that’s actually using the mobile payment will realize that it’s a more convenient method for them, and it allows them to speed up their visit if they need it,” Mr. Krakower said.
“Maybe they wouldn’t choose BJ’s if they didn’t have enough time, now they may choose BJ’s on more occasions, which will obviously drive sales,” he said.
“For that guest when they’re in there on that visit and using mobile payments, they could be potentially having a shorter visit, which allows us to seat another guest sooner, so our wait times should be lower.”
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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