KFC launched a new mobile app today in the UK, allowing Londoners to order their girth-enhancing chicken on the go, pop into the restaurant, and pick up their finished order in seconds.
The new technology, which depending on results will be making its way over the pond stateside, was developed with Airtag, a mobile shopping and payments provider that builds white label SaaS technology so that brands can fill out their apps with a branded mobile ordering and payment solution.
“It works on an iPhone app, or a web app,” KFC UK’s IT director Paul Borrett told me yesterday from London. “You select a restaurant, build your order, and pay with a credit card. Then you simply go to a store, swipe a QR code, and pick up your food, cutting out the step of having to stand in line, and saving about 60-70% of the wait time.”
This is not ground-breaking technology, and it has been done before.
What’s interesting to me is Airtag’s business model of providing white-label solutions for retailers and restaurants — and how that scales. I asked Airtag CEO Jeremy Leroyer what happens when we deal with 35 different merchants: Do we need 35 different apps?
“This is relevant for bigger merchants,” Leroyer said. “The smaller ones are definitely going to be aggregated, but this is for tier one and tier two merchants. We’re currently working with big grocers to expedite the ordering process, which will enable a similar experience for you to buy groceries.”
Leroyer argues that the important piece of any mobile wallet solution is not the payments or transaction technologies. Rather, it’s the customer experience while ordering, and the services that brands can attach to the ordering process that will make the difference.
That’s an interesting perspective and one that’s certainly worthy of consideration, especially considering the fact that we spend 80 percent of our time on mobile devices in apps. But you have to think there’s a platform play for mobile wallet technology from a Google or Apple that will be accessible to all apps, and require users to enter payment credentials only once.
Which doesn’t mean that a custom experience a la Kentucky Fried Chicken won’t still be viable.
“What we’ve been doing the last few years in Europe is push that experience and those services, to make those wallets relevant,” Leroyer told me. “The wallets that are going to be successful are going to be the merchant wallets.”
It’s certainly working for KFC right now, especially given the fragmented nature of the current mobile wallet landscape.
“I was testing this a week ago,” Borrett said. “I literally was walking to the store, ordered 30 seconds from the store, walked in, scanned, bypassed 6-7 people in line, and got my order.”