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Bakery chain Greggs has launched a new loyalty app that enables customers to pay in any of its 1,700 UK stores using their mobiles rather than cash or cards.

It aims to reward customer loyalty, with users getting offers, free coffee and prize draws as well as being able to see their purchase history.

Greggs is incentivising people to download the app by offering a free breakfast if people add £20 to their account, while the first 10,000 customers to sign up for ‘Auto Top-Up’ with PayPal will earn a £5 bonus credit.

This isn’t the first time mobile payments have come to the high street, as Starbucks has had a transactional mobile loyalty app for several years. Similarly Aurora Fashions Group, which owns Oasis and Warehouse among other brands, allows customers to pay using the PayPal inStore mobile app.

Game and B&Q also have excellent loyalty apps, though Game’s isn’t transactional.

However it’s still an interesting development as Greggs is the first ‘food-on-the-go’ retailer to launch a mobile payment app.

I gave it a go to find out whether the app is up to scratch...

App usability

The Greggs app is fairly simple, offering just five tabs for users to choose from. This isn’t a criticism, as simplicity is a good thing in mobile app design – there’s no point in over-complicating things with features that people won’t bother to use.

As with most apps the most useful feature is probably the store finder which uses GPS to identify all the Greggs outlets within the user’s proximity.

The app also links users to Google Maps so they can get directions to their nearest outlet.

It turns out there are five Greggs within a mile of the Econsultancy office, so we’re well covered if our CEO ever needs an emergency sausage roll.

                      

Users can register for the app using Facebook, Twitter, PayPal or Google, or indeed by entering in a huge amount of personal information, including date of birth and home address.

After registering users can access their account details and top up their funds via the Greggs desktop site, which makes the process a bit easier than filling in forms on a mobile screen.

Users can also set the app to top up automatically once the payment balance falls below a certain threshold, which is a great way of reducing friction and encouraging repeat usage.

Using the app in-store

Adding money to my balance was a bit of a chore as after registering a new account the app failed to recognise my login details, so I had to then re-register but this time using my PayPal account. 

I haven’t used PayPal in about a decade so it took quite a lot of faffing while I tried various email addresses and had to reset my password several times.

Anyway, once my login was sorted I set off for our local Greggs to buy a round of bacon sandwiches for the Econsultancy editorial team.

Weirdly there was no signage within the store to advertise the new app or give instructions for its use. This would surely be one of the most obvious ways of promoting the app, so I can’t help but feel that Greggs has missed a trick.

Another UX flaw is that the payment tool in the app is housed under the ‘Rewards’ tab, which isn’t the most obvious option.

There are only five tabs to choose from so it didn’t take much searching for me to find it, but even so I expected the payment tool to be within the ‘Account’ tab.

                      

The in-store experience was reasonably smooth but predictably there were a few teething problems. Both of the friendly cashiers were aware of the new app, but I was the first customer to try and pay with it.

Users should be able to pay at the till by calling up the payment screen, clicking the big ‘Press to spend now’ button, and scanning the QR code that appears.

Unfortunately the QR code failed to scan, so after several attempts I instead handed over my phone so the cashier could type in the numerical code. This time it worked and I was on my way.

In conclusion...

Once you’ve got through the pain of setting up an account the app is extremely simple to use.

It’s easy to top up your balance within the app or on the desktop site, and paying in-store was fairly smooth though it does rather defeat the purpose if the QR code reader doesn’t work.

There are several benefits to using the app – such as the loyalty scheme and special offers – but if the cashier has to take your phone and type in a code then it would just be quicker to pay using cash or a debit card.

Still, it’s good to see Greggs moving with the times and creating its own payment app, as even if it’s a slow burner the company should still learn a lot about user behaviour and collect a lot of customer data.

Go here to find out more about the Greegs Reward app.

David Moth

Published 28 February, 2014 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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