Consumers’ ability to pay for a restaurant or bar tab with a smartphone went from small scale to mainstream with TGI Friday’s Inc.’s decision to use Tabbedout’s mobile-payment application.
The deal, announced April 27, nearly doubles–to more than 800–the number of locations supporting Tabbedout’s service.
Tabbedout is available at all company-owned TGI Friday’s locations, and any franchisees may opt in, Kevin McKeand, Tabbedout vice president of sales and marketing, tells PaymentsSource. Of the approximately 600 TGI Friday’s locations, more than half are company-owned.
Consumers may download the free TGI Friday’s app at the Android and iPhone application markets. The application lists all TGI Friday’s locations. Once the user chooses one, it indicates whether the location supports Tabbedout’s service.
Once users enter a participating TGI Friday’s, they may open a tab using the My Friday’s Tab Powered By Tabbedout option within the casual dining chain’s app. Tabbedout communicates with the location’s point-of-sale system, which has Tabbedout’s software development kit.
Tabbedout encrypts the payment card data the user enters and sends the information to the merchant’s POS system. If the customer leaves without paying using the app, the merchant has the card data and can close the tab and complete the transaction. Orders accumulate on the tab, which the users can see immediately on their phone screen as the server enters orders into the POS system.
When using Tabbedout to pay, the customer also can add a tip; Tabbedout makes suggestions for a minimum tip and a recommended tip based on region. If customers want to give less than the minimum tip suggested, the app prompts them to explain why so management can address the issue.
Users may change the payment method from the one with which they opened the tab, such as switching from a credit card to PayPal. Tabbedout last month added PayPal as a payment option (see story). Customers may leave after selecting the pay button in the app on his phone.
Users may use Tabbedout twice within a TGI Friday’s restaurant. Users waiting at the bar for their table can close out the bar tab without waiting for the bartender to help, then open a new tab for their meal. The bartender knows the tab is closed because it shows closure on his POS screen.
Tabbedout already had a revenue-sharing relationship with TGI Friday’s point-of-sale vendor Micros Systems Inc.
Tabbedout’s efforts to make paying tabs more convenient works with a new TGI Friday’s strategy, says McKeand.
“They’re working very hard right now to focus on what they call their ‘four walls strategy,’” he says of TGI Friday’s. “They’re very focused on pulling the guests into the restaurant using the servers and the bartenders to make the experience a good one for the consumer. Having a mobile app and providing a mobile-payment functionality was key to that part of the strategy.”
Tabbedout deserves to go mainstream, Todd Ablowitz, president of Double Diamond Group, a centennial, Colo.-based mobile payment consultancy, tells PaymentsSource.
“The restaurant-payment experience is the worst payment experience there is,” says Ablowitz. “There’s nothing worse than … having the server go back and forth multiple times to take your check, type it in, come back with the final bill, go back with your credit card, bring it back for signing.”
Tabbedout simplifies and improves the experience, Ablowitz says. “It solves a real problem that uses the technology everyone already has now,” he says. “It’s one of the best if not the best examples of a mobile payment I’ve seen.”
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