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Wendy’s trials mobile payments with commerce-enabled app

May 6, 2013

Wendy’s is running a mobile commerce pilot that not only lets consumers use their mobile devices to pay for meals, but also bolsters downloads of the company’s application.

Mobile payments are being tested in three markets – Portland, Albuquerque and Austin. The My Wendy’s app is available for iPhone and Android devices.

“We’re trying to make the lives of the people that love Wendy’s easier,” said Brandon Rhoten, director of digital marketing at Wendy’s, Dublin, OH.

“We don’t see everyone wanting to pay for their order with their smartphone, but for those that want that convenience, we want to be able to provide it,” he said.

“It’s also a way for us to connect with people as they’re in the restaurant and provide future capabilities, such as mobile ordering. It’s really all about improving the experience of visiting a Wendy’s.”

How it works
Consumers who live in Austin, Portland and Albuquerque can use the Wendy’s app to pay via the payments tab.

Users are then prompted to create a Wendy’s profile that is linked to either a credit card or a gift card.

Once the card is loaded with money, the payment is triggered by consumers swiping their finger across the screen.

A unique, one-time code is then revealed on the screen that consumers can read to a Wendy’s employee.

The code is time-sensitive and must be used within five minutes.

The amount of the purchase is then automatically deducted off of a balance.

The mobile payments space is heating up for quick-service restaurants.

However, the majority of mobile payment trials take place outside of the United States.

Wendy’s is smart to test mobile payments in the U.S. to see how consumers respond to the technology.

Mobile rewards
Additionally, Wendy’s is rolling out rewards and offers as an incentive for consumers to participate in the mobile payments trial.

For example, consumers can receive a free small Frosty for loading their account. The offers are then sent to consumers via email and can be printed for in-store redemption.

The rewards will also be available soon digitally, according to Mr. Rhoten.

Additionally, the offers will become more specific to users as Wendy’s learns which items consumers like based on their purchase behavior. Location can also be used to personalize the offers.

Wendy’s originally launched the My Wendy’s app last year as the company beefed up its digital strategy around mobile (see story).

Since then, Wendy’s has used a variety of mobile channels, such as QR codes, advertising and social media to bolster its repertoire.

Most recently, the brand ran a Twitter campaign that encouraged consumers to snap a picture of the company’s new Flatbread sandwich to be entered into a sweepstakes to win $1,000 (see story).

When it comes to what consumers are looking for when using their mobile devices to interact with Wendy’s, nutrition, product and location information are big uses, per Mr. Rhoten.

“Having said that, people want to use their mobile to do a lot more with us,” Mr. Rhoten said.

“We find out about what people want from us through our social media listening and the analytics on our digital assets, such as our current app and Web site,” he said.

“That’s what we’re trying to facilitate — figure out what people want from us, what will make visiting a Wendy’s better, and provide that experience.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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