New York City Bill Proposes Eliminating Cashless Stores and Restaurants

New York City Bill Proposes Eliminating Cashless Stores and Restaurants

“Supporters of a new bill want to make sure New Yorkers are able to keep paying cash at their local stores.

The New York City Council held a hearing last week on the bill that proposes to ban stores and restaurants from refusing cash. The legislation is in response to a push for cashlessness across the city and the nation. Backers of the bill argue that by refusing cash, these establishments discriminate against the poor, victims of domestic violence, homeless people and undocumented immigrants—all of whom are more likely to be unbanked.

“Given the sheer prevalence of unbanked people, I worry deeply about the cashless economy,” said New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who introduced the bill. “Not everyone has access to debit or credit, but everyone has access to cash.”

See more here.

Digital Ordering to Triple by 2020

Restaurant mobile app

Restaurant digital orders have grown an average of 23 percent, per year since 2013, and will triple by the end of 2020, according to a report from NPD Group.

The report, called Delivering Digital Convenience, found that 70 percent of a restaurant’s digital orders come through its mobile app or its website, with the remaining orders coming through third-party apps or websites. Customers used the restaurant’s own app most of the time because of rewards points or savings, and other brands appeal to customers because they want to create a custom order or take friction out of the ordering process.

Third-party apps like DoorDash, UberEats or Grubhub/Seamless accounted for 40 percent share of the 20 most used apps, and are used by consumers who want to look up various food items and check prices.

“Digital orders will remain an outsized source of growth for the restaurant industry over the next few years, and operators who desire to grow need to embrace a digital strategy,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry adviser and author of Eating Patterns in America, said in the announcement. “There are clear leaders in the digital ordering space, and third-party providers who have achieved critical mass the fastest.”

See more here.

Waitlisting App Nowait Introduces Bill Pay Feature

The App Nowait, which allows guests to add their name to digital waitlists at restaurants that do not take traditional reservations, is now leveraging those partnerships to introduce a mobile payment option as well. Nowait has been steadily growing for the past few years to incorporate a suite of software for restaurants and guests, including tools to manage seating and server rotation as well as reservations and waitlists. They already have  close to 4,000 restaurants on the platform, running the gamut from Chili’s to the Clinton St. Baking Company here in New York. Nowait has been downloaded by diners over 3 million times.

With the new mobile payment option (currently being tested in the company’s hometown of Pittsburg), guests can quickly pay their check at the end of the meal without flagging down a server. The app works with three of the largest POS systems (Micros, NCR, POSitouch), which covers around 85% of their targeted fast-casual market. Nowait claims that there are benefits all around – restaurants are seeing faster turnaround, and servers have seen higher tips. The latter may be due to the apps customizable suggested tip amount, which is now standard in POS systems like Square.

As more aspects of the dining experience go digital (and mobile), this market will get more crowded. Nowait has partnerships on it’s side, but they’ll have to make the experience seamless as well.

To read more, click here.

Starbucks’ 2014 Holiday Initiatives

The Starbucks Leadership Experience conference was held this past weekend in Seattle where over 2,000 district managers shared customer initiatives to elevate the Starbucks holiday experience. Having noticed that during the 2013 holidays many brick-and-mortar retailers experienced a decline in foot traffic compared to a growth in online shopping, Starbucks experts began focusing on redefining the retail experience with digital innovations.

Howard Schultz, president and CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company states, “Customers researched, compared prices, and then bought the brands and items they wanted online, frequently utilizing a mobile device to do so. Since that time, we have been focused on radically redefining the Starbucks retail experience for our partners, customers and stores. As a result of the work we’ve done, Starbucks is poised for a great holiday—our innovation pipeline is strong and we have a number of initiatives ready to launch during the holiday and into calendar 2015 and beyond.”

Aside from the holiday changes which take place every season, such as the red cups and seasonal flavors, Starbucks will be introducing new customer incentives such as ‘Starbucks for Life” which lucky customers will be able to win by paying with their smartphone or by using their Starbucks card. Starbucks will also be launching Mobile Order and Pay in stores within the Portland area before the end of the year which will allow customers to place orders in advance for pick up in store. The nationwide launch for Mobile Order and Pay is planned for 2015 which will hugely increase the company’s presence in the mobile commerce scene.

Other holiday initiatives include the 30th anniversary of Starbucks Christmas Blend and the first new holiday beverage crafted in the past five years, the Chestnut Praline Latte. The loyalty program will have added value and benefits (including access to special events and sneak previews of new products) for customers using their mobile devices. The company will also be taking initiatives to expand the Starbucks Reserve coffee line by opening an interactive Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room which will dedicate itself to roasting, coffee education and selling the small-lot Starbucks Reserve coffees.

To read more about Starbucks’ holiday initiatives for this season, click here


Webinar Event: Branded Restaurant Apps

Restaurants can really benefit from having a branded smartphone app for their marketing campaigns. It is also important to know that many customers now expect a mobile app and when it is not available for them to use for payment, loyalty programs, promotions or online ordering, it could cause some frustration.  The most important thing to a customer is that all systems are efficient and run seamlessly, and this webinar will help to achieve these goals. A few things that will be addressed are:

  • How to introduce an app and encourage adoption
  • How to engage the customer with the mobile app and impact customer behaviors
  • Promoting effectively via the mobile app
  • The appropriate times to use traditional marketing tactics and when to use mobile promotions in lieu
  • Integrating messages and promotions so customers have a consistent experience
  • Optimizing mobile promotions by segmenting users (new, lapsed, best customers)
  • Transferring contact information and behavioral data between existing marketing systems and mobile/online platforms
  • How much control should your franchisees have for setting up mobile marketing?

The webinar is hosted by an enterprise level SaaS platform for ordering, payment, geo and trigger marketing, and a leading technology integrator to create ‘super apps’ that include in-store and app loyalty, stored value cards and mobile wallet technology called The panel includes founder and CEO of Fishbowl, Scott Shaw, and CEO and President of, Vijay R. Bangaru amongst other important figures in the digital marketing realm. To read more about the panel and to watch the webinar, click here


New App Means New Competition for Fast Casual

In an effort to add more emphasis on speed and hospitality, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse launched an app last Tuesday that allows diners to place their orders before arriving at the restaurant. BJ’s Chief Executive Gregory Trojan believes that being hospitable is the most important task for a waiter. The casual-dining restaurant chain’s goal in launching the app is to shift the wait staff’s duties to enable them to focus on being more conscientious of the customer.

The customer is placed on the wait list once they have ordered via the app, eliminating the need to wait at the host stand upon arriving at the restaurant. The kitchen fires the meal once the customer is seated to ensure the food is hot when it arrives at the table. The app also offers a mobile payment option at the end of the meal eliminating the need to wait for the check.Trojan assures that the app will not mean less waiters but simply that the waiters will be removed from the ordering process.

The increase in speed and service will be an added draw to the customer which will enable BJ’s to better compete with fast casual establishments. Panera Bread and McDonald’s have also been experimenting with different ways to include the customer to streamline the ordering process.


To read more about the app launch and what it means for the future click here


Video Q&A With Cover, The Mobile Payment Application

Watch a video Q&A session with with Cover, the mobile payment application that is taking NYC by storm. The payment processing start-up offers a free app that stores diners’ credit card information and tip preference which are automatically charged at the end of the meal. Restaurant operators use its back of house app (also free) in addition to their POS system to process Cover user payments. Best part – processing fees are  a lower than what typical credit card companies charge. Watch the 10 minute video here.