Loyalty & Rewards

Wendy’s Serves Up New Mobile Payments System

Wendy’s is looking to payments as a way to pull customers in and keep them returning. The fast-food chain is installing a standardized point-of-sale system in more than 2,600 locations to use as a mobile marketing platform, Mobile Commerce Daily reported.

The common POS system, which is already installed in virtually all 957 company-owned locations, should be live in all 2,600 of the chain’s North American stores by the end of 2016. That system will support mobile rewards and mobile ordering, as well as the CurrentC mobile payments that Wendy’s will begin testing later this year.

Wendy’s is also in the process of refranchising 500 of those company-owned stores. Executives said on the Q4 earnings call that by mid-2016 the chain wants to own just 5 percent of its 6,500 stores, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.

Getting a standardized POS system is especially challenging for chains that have a large proportion of franchisees. Chains can dictate specific equipment as part of their franchise agreements, but from the point of view of franchise store owners, those new PIN pads and the extra-cost processing services they require are often viewed as a cost with no benefit for the franchisee.

But that may not be the case for Wendy’s new standardized POS, which is already supporting mobile ordering in seven locations in Columbus, Ohio, with the Phoenix market set for a rollout by the end of February. Meanwhile, nine markets are testing a loyalty program that uses the new POS, with the mobile payments pilot in the wings. That will be a major test for CurrentC, the barcode-based mobile payments system backed by Merchant Commerce Exchange, a group of about 80 major retailers led by Wal-Mart, and modeled on Starbucks’ highly successful payments system.

“There are still a lot of kinks in the mobile payments system, but brands like Starbucks have started to get consumers accustomed to the notion of brand-specific payment and rewards apps,” Sean Miller, SVP of strategy at digital marketing agency Rokkan, told Mobile Commerce Daily. “Wendy’s is making a smart move by getting in front of people fast, though it remains to be seen whether the CurrentC platform will be a hit.”

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