Restaurants just getting started with mobile, Tillster CEO says

Nov. 20, 2014 | by Alicia Kelso

The restaurant industry is becoming a big supporter of mobile payments. Tillster, which provides services such as digital ordering and loyalty for restaurants, recently partnered with Burger King and PayPal to offer a mobile payments solution at the QSR chain later this quarter.

Tillster CEO Perse Faily said she expects mobile payment adoption to continue its growth trajectory in the restaurant industry. The pace of that growth will largely depend on how brands design the entire mobile experience.

"If it's easy and seamless, mobile payments will grow much more quickly than we all expect," she said.

Faily said the industry is currently in the first phase of deployment.

"If you look at the restaurant experience today compared to four years ago and four years from now, it will be vastly different for both and that very much comes from digital," she said, predicting even more "personalized and contextualized experiences" to come, all driven by mobile.

QSRweb (a Mobile Payments Today sister publication) had the chance to talk to Faily about Tillster's relationship with Burger King and PayPal, what the future of mobile apps look like and how mobile payments and loyalty can benefit both restaurant brands and their consumers.

QSRweb: How did your relationship with Burger King come about?

Perse Faily: We started working with Burger King almost two and a half years ago. The genesis of the relationship was to develop an additional platform that enabled digital ordering and included digital marketing technology.

We started putting the pieces in place for a platform that worked for Burger King's delivery business, powering online and mobile ordering, call central ordering and loyalty. That expanded to loyalty, couponing and kiosks internationally.

QSRweb: When did PayPal join the conversation?

PF: We began extending this market by market with loyalty and payment and that's where PayPal came in. We have conversations with payments providers because we wanted to add that platform to the mix. We were beginning conversations with PayPal at the same time they were having conversations with Burger King. It was fortuitous.

QSRweb: What exactly does your relationship with PayPal mean and why is it important?

PF: We will be enabling PayPal within the Burger King system in the U.S. It is a real value, first and foremost for Burger King. PayPal is compelling because consumers have a long history of trusting it. There are 110 million users using PayPal who are comfortable with it.

Our relationship with PayPal is independent (of Tillster's relationship with Burger King) so we will be making it available to our other customers.

QSRweb: Tillster has long done ordering and loyalty, why jump into payments?

PF: If I'm a consumer, technology should have maximum utility. I should be able to do everything within the same app. Payment alone isn't enough. If I can make orders, get coupons, loyalty, pay – that'll be the solution where customers will really interact with the brand. It becomes part of the overall transaction rather than just a change in consumer behavior.

QSRweb: Can you tell us how your program is doing with BK Delivers?

PF: We rolled out to a number of stores across a number of geographies, which formed the seminal program for launching delivery in additional geographies. We partnered with them in Spain and talked about delivery in other areas. The program is a proving ground for the (in-store) platform and all of Burger King's POS systems.

QSRweb: Are there challenges in working with disparate POS systems?

PF: Many large, mature QSR brands, because of their size and longevity, tend to be multi-POS. What we try to do is abstract that complexity. We don't worry about whether the POS solution is uniform, but rather the customer's experience.

For us, BK has a multi-POS system, but the consumer experience is the same and the program works seamlessly for them.

QSRweb: With Apple Pay, Softcard and a variety of other providers in the space, why did you go with PayPal?

PF: A lot of brands are trying to understand the mobile landscape, the implications of Apple Pay, and various others, and how they will fit in. PayPal is compelling from a rate standpoint, and a large set of consumers already use PayPal. These users can easily use payment embedded within a new app and that works for a lot of our global customers.

Our intent is to make this available to our other customers (which include Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Domino's, etc.) eventually. BK is the first of our customers enabling PayPal.

QSRweb: What do restaurant operators need to know about these players to get started?

PF: Our view is that there are a lot of mobile payment options in the marketplace. The winners will be determined by what is easiest for the consumer to adopt and the jury is still out on that.

Our job is to enable a range of options (in addition to PayPal) for our customers so they can make the right choice for their brand. For one brand, PayPal may be optimal. For another, maybe a sit down table-service concept, another may be ideal.

We will make sure all of our restaurant customers have options so they decide what to turn on and we enable them to turn it on. We view ourselves as enablers. We are agnostic in terms of payment methods.

QSRweb: When do you think mobile payment reaches critical mass in the restaurant industry?

PF: If it is coupled as part of a broader solution, I think adoption will happen more quickly. When we talk to customers, we talk about mobile payment as part of a solution that includes loyalty. We can then tie in incentives that drive adoption. So if I use payment, I can get extra points or meals, for example.  

We want to drive mobile payment because there are benefits for both operators and consumers.

QSRweb: What are the benefits for restaurant operators?

PF: When we put the platform in place – which includes a couple of components such as ordering, couponing, loyalty – it all sits on top of a common data layer. I know it's you when you order and I can track it and have visibility so I can deliver a personalized experience and the brand can determine how valuable of a customer you are.

The fees associated are often less and the check is higher – digital solutions more effectively upsell and cross-sell.

QSRweb: And consumers?

PF: Customers are very tech-forward now. They want personalized experiences. If I can get an order faster, easier and can get offers of things that matter to me and make me feel special, and it's easy for me to pay, I'm going to do that.


Topics: Contactless / NFC, Loyalty Programs, Mobile/Digital Wallet, POS, Restaurants, Trends / Statistics

Companies: PayPal


Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.
View Alicia Kelso's profile on LinkedIn

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