The Pizza Express App: Pay for your meal via PayPal!

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Now then, this is brilliant news for all pizza lovers across the United Kingdom — and indeed, anyone else who happens to visit the UK. And anyone who’s been following the burgeoning m-payments space too.

You can now pay for your Pizza Express meal using the all new Pizza Express app. It’s fully integrated with PayPal, enabling you to settle your bill with a few taps and completely avoid using cash or cards in the restaurant.

If you’re like me, you have your PayPal account linked directly to one of your bank accounts so if you’re out of balance, PayPal simply picks up the cash from your account without any issue. All you have to do is enter/confirm your PayPal credentials to do the transaction.

I simply love this.

I love not having to arse around with cards and bits of paper.

The new app enables a whole host of other functionality including restaurant finder, table booking, special offer integration (for those 2-for-1 deals) and, of course, the ability to peruse the menu.

We’ve been waiting a long time for this sort of usage model. Kudos — absolutely kudos — to the Pizza Express and PayPal teams for making this happen. Indeed this is the kind of thing that most companies seem functionality unable to even consider, let alone deploy.

I can guarantee that this feature is going to get some heavy usage in the Pizza Express Charlotte Street, given the amount of geeks and new media techies working in that region. It will be very interesting to see where the FIRST official ‘consumer’ app transaction takes place. Will it be in London? Or will it be somewhere out in the provinces?

The app is integrated fully into all Pizza Express restaurants. From table booking to bill paying. You might be wondering how you actually confirm that you’ve paid? Quite simply, you just have to show your transaction receipt to the waiter, however the restaurant will get confirmation of your payment too.

Pizza Express reckon that you can complete your whole payment transaction in under a minute (provided you’re an existing PayPal user).

Here are the steps you take to pay the bill:

Step 1. Once you have placed your order in any one of our 384 restaurants, you can ask for your bill whenever you want. Whether that is when you place your order, at some point during your meal or at the end of the meal. It is up to you.

Step 2. All you have to do is click on our app, select the ‘Pay Your Bill’ option and enter the 12 digit code, which will be clearly marked on the bottom of your bill.

Step 3. Once your bill appears, you can check the amount on the app matches your bill and add a tip if you wish.

Step 4. You will also have the option to redeem against a valid offer code or voucher and your total bill amount will be automatically amended.

Step 5. Then log in to your PayPal account or enter your credit or debit card details and press ‘Pay Now’.

Step 6. Once payment is received the app will send you and our tills a confirmation that will let us both know you have paid. You will also receive an email confirming your payment and you can view your full receipt in the ‘My Receipts’ section of the app.

Here’s a video that nicely illustrates how the app works (featuring The Next Web’s Hermione Way):

I particularly like this quote from the Pizza Express CEO:

Mark Angela, Chief Executive of PizzaExpress says, “We knew there was no point just launching an app for the sake of it, so we waited until we had a system that could genuinely improve our customers’ experience of eating out at PizzaExpress. We believe today’s version does exactly that and we’re looking forward to developing it in the future.”

Good man! Now and again I see apps from hospitality chains that are little better than a list of restaurants and their postcodes. Pointless.

Now then, this most definitely is big, big news. I’m pleased to see this level of innovation in the marketplace. Congratulations to both companies — and, once again, kudos to Pizza Express. That must have been a heck of a lot of work making sure the service rolls out to all 370 restaurants across the UK.

I know the app only just launched this morning but I’d like to get my next feature request in as soon as possible: I’d like to see the ability to order an extra dough balls without having to flag down the waiter. Or another diet coke. That would be simply genius. And you know what, I don’t think the team here are that far away from being able to order this kind of fully integrated experience.

If you’re an app developer working for the hospitality industry, you’re about to get a lot of phone calls today asking about this app. Even if you don’t work in hospitality though, I strongly encourage you to download the app and go and test the process out.

I think today marks a highly positive shift for the hospitality industry and mobile payments. It won’t be long before a lot more companies deploy similar services. There will be a lot of red faces amongst the highly competitive restaurant chain senior executives. The waves of this launch will reach a wide array of other shores though. Once a company such as Pizza Express jumps on mobile payments in such a committed manner, it won’t be long before the rest begin to do so.

It’s going to be rather interesting to see how this service performs. How will the mobile and hospitality industries respond when, say, Pizza Express announces 5% of its payments are being made via the app?

What happens when 40% of payments are made through the app? When the app is responsible for, I dunno, say £100m of revenue?

What are the implications for the hospitality industry and the payments industry? What would it mean for the consumer? This could potentially revolutionise the relationship between Pizza Express and its customers.

See, right now, Pizza Express doesn’t have customers. It has anonymous individuals that cannot be profiled. Folk that walk in, give them cash, then walk out again. Some of them — a small percentage, I imagine — sign up for the Pizza Express Club. Those you can manage, segment, profile. But the vast, vast majority are completely unknown to the company.

If they’re paying via the app, they’re a heck of a lot more visible, especially if you can tie them to a username or PayPal account. You can begin to closely look at their spending habits. You can market to them directly — because you’ve now got the ability to deliver an end-to-end special offer delivered and fulfilled via the app. Oh yes. Very interesting possibilities indeed.

Anyway, let’s give it a go. I’m going to try it out as soon as I can. I’ll let you know how I get on.

You can pick up the app from the iTunes App Store today (iTunes link).

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