Mobile Payments, Speed, Loyalty and Burritos. Nachos.

Fast food can be a highly profitable business but matching supply and demand is always a challenge. At peak times, outlets can make more food than they have capacity to sell which can lead to long queues, unhappy customers and lost sales.

Many QSR’s (quick service restaurants) have been toying with reconfiguring their ordering process so that customers would no longer have to queue at the till; instead they could order on their phones and pick up at a serving point, Argos-style.

Burrito Mama (the new venture from the Wahaca founders) is one of the leaders so I went along to One New Change, in the heart of the City of London, to try out their new app.

The home screen is friendly with a very simple choice to make.

Home screen

Menu screen

The app uses geolocation to position you in the right restaurant. Right now, there is only one Burrito Mama but if you hit the St Paul’s button there is map to help you find your way to One New Change. Then it’s just a question of choosing what food you want.

Menu options
Menu options

There’s a very intuitive menu to choose options and side orders. Then comes the payment. Burrito Mama are using Flypay – a digital wallet provider that offers an API for application vendors. I’d already signed up for Flypay so just had to enter my PIN code. If you haven’t signed up for Flypay, you’d need to enter your card details at this point which takes 5 – 8 minutes. Most likely, you’d give up the mobile journey in frustration at this point and order at the till or one of the unmanned kiosks instead.


At this point, my purchase got frustrating for a different reason. The app couldn’t get an Internet connection despite the purported Everything Everywhere 4G connection displayed in the top left corner of my iPhone screen. Fortunately, Burrito Mama offers free WiFi without requiring registration.


Back on track, I only had to choose which card to pay with. I’ve only loaded one card so that was an easy but unnecessary decision.  Then, rather unexpectedly, I had to enter my CVV code. For this, I needed to pull out my wallet and check the reverse of my Barclaycard. Ugh.


The CVV code slowed things down but was partly redeemed by the option to order for pick up in 15 or 30 mins. You don’t have any choice about these delays but I can imagine busy office workers liking this feature, especially if they are picking up a large order for colleagues.

Loyalty Screen

Payment completed, you get an order number that is displayed on a large screen on which you can watch its progress.

Pick-up Screen
Pick-up Screen

When ready, you just show your phone’s screen and pick up your Burrito. There’s no barcode scan or other confirmation. Finally, the screen shows a very basic but pretty generous loyalty offer – buy five and get one free. The offer is only available for people who order and pay with the app. Some other QSR’s might not warm to this approach as it penalises loyal customers who pay in other ways but it gives a clear incentive.

Conclusion: anything that gets the queues moving quicker at lunchtime is good for Burrito Mama and good for its customers. Regular customers may be persuaded to use the mobile ordering/wallet app either for the ability to pre-order or to take advantage of the loyalty offer, but

  1. registering for Flypay will be a disincentive. This is no disrespect to Flypay but it’s 5 – 8 minutes you don’t have when you’re looking for a quick lunch.
  2. the extra CVV code step makes the kiosks (which run the same app as your phone) a quicker option.

In the 20 minutes I spent in Burrito Mama, munching lunch and watching the clients, I spotted only one other app user. Despite the crowds, and it really was VERY busy, the customers still preferred either to queue at till or use the kiosks.


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