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Square seeks to one-up rivals with Caviar food-ordering app

December 9, 2014

Caviar_iOS02[2]_optSquare, a mobile payments system striving to set itself apart from the competition, has launched the Caviar mobile application for high-end restaurant food ordering and delivery.

The free app lets customers order from tough-to-get-into restaurants with world-renowned chefs. The rollout is Square’s latest move toward more complex features in the mobile payments space, underscoring the sector’s growth.

“The new Caviar app makes it easier for busy professionals and families to order delicious meals from their favorite restaurants, no matter where they are,” said Caviar spokeswoman Katie Baynes. “Customers can place an order quickly and easily and expect a reliable delivery every time.”

Top chefs
Caviar promises quick delivery from restaurants with chefs such as Boston’s Ming Tsai, owner of the Blue Dragon, named one of Esquire Magazine’s best restaurants of 2013, and Rick Bayless, winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters competition.

Caviar serves customers in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Washington and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Adding features to mobile payments.

Users of the iOS-supported app also can customize menu items with special requests and additions. 

Once the user places an order, its status can be tracked using the app’s GPS tracking feature. Customers can also view past orders for quick and easy repeat delivery of their favorite meals.

“With the new Caviar app, customers will be able to place an order whether they’re at home, work, or on the go,” Ms. Baynes said. 

Users can see which restaurants offer delivery in their city through Caviar, aided by photos of menu items.

Users are able to customize orders as desired – for instance, holding the mayonnaise on a sandwich.

As the mobile payment space gets crowded, downplaying basic credit card swiping features is seen as key in winning over merchants.

In April, Square launched three products to help merchants manage digital payment initiatives by integrating loyalty programs and rewards into mobile payments.

Food ordering continues to be one of the bigger opportunities for mobile commerce as more consumers turn to smartphones and tablets to place quick and repeat orders.

Square’s features will go head-to-head with GrubHub Seamless and Eat24.

GrubHub Seamless claims that more than 40 percent of its orders are placed through mobile.

At the same time, a number of restaurants are piloting and launching their own standalone apps that integrate pick-up and delivery services.

Various businesses have already tested order-ahead features.

For example, New York coffee shop Café Integral has tested in-store pick up to cut down on long lines.

A Greek restaurant in San Francisco called Souvla is using the tool to bolster initial orders since opening three weeks ago.

Square also inked a big deal with Whole Foods in February that permitted sandwich pre-ordering in California’s Bay Area locations.

Loyalty programs
However, ordering alone will likely have little impact on acquiring new customers if merchants are not able to integrate a loyalty or some other kind of rewards program into their initiatives, too.

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Satisfying those high-end cravings.

Square’s competition includes PayPal, MasterCard, Intuit and Verifone, which have built on traditional point-of-sale systems to give marketers additional features.

“The new Caviar app makes it easier for busy professionals and families to order delicious meals from their favorite restaurants no matter where they are,” Ms. Baynes said. “Customers can place an order quickly and easily and expect a reliable delivery every time.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. 

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