Queue busting: mobiles at the ready
We all hate queues, but Vaidas Adomauskas really hates them. So much so that he co-founded a company, WoraPay, to address this ever present in-store problem
Founded in 2012, the venture, which is backed by VC firm Entrée Capital, allows customers to buy food and drink and pay in advance with their mobiles. They are notified when their order is ready and they can collect it en route to the office etc.
As Adomauskas (who has taken on the role of CEO) puts it, “the mobile phone gives us a great tool to pay remotely, so we should not need to queue or wait until someone brings us a card terminal. We found a way to solve this.”
“Our platform supports many order, shop and pay without the queue scenarios including: order food and drinks to beat the queue and pick up straight away (OrderAndPay); shop and pay directly from the self-serve cabinet in the café or the retail store and thus leave out a queue at the till (PickAndPay); pay at the petrol pump without the need for self-service terminals; pay at the table or order to the table at a restaurant or venue and more. Any mobile wallet (a payment app), including retailers’ own branded apps, can be integrated and work with the WoraPay platform,” he adds.
The FinTech launched in the Baltics and in November 2015 made its debut in the UK. It is working on a pilot of its technology with Gather & Gather, after they were introduced by the Innovation Labs team at Lloyds Banking Group (LBG).
The pilot came about from an event the startup attended, which LBG hosted as part of its collaboration with Startupbootcamp’s FinTech accelerator programme. While Adomauskas was waiting his turn to present, Richard Jackson, WoraPay UK’s MD, noticed the internal coffee shop near to where the event was being held. Working with Daria Mitaenko, a Senior Manager at LBG Innovation Labs, WoraPay teamed with Gather & Gather, which runs the food and beverage counters at all the Group’s offices. Following an initial test run at the Chiswell Street, London office, this was extended to its other London sites, as well as to offices in Halifax and Bristol.
“Since we started working with LBG over 20% of their office employees have used our mobile order and pay solution within their office cafés across the UK and Northern Ireland. This has saved thousands of man hours (equivalent to about 150 man days) each month from not having to queue for teas or coffee, but more importantly impressive revenue growth has been seen by the retailer,” claims Adomauskas.
WoraPay is now in discussions with Gather & Gather about a possible roll-out across the entire LBG estate, as well as with other external catering companies to launch the service (it is now running at Notting Dale Village Café, for instance, operated by Good Eating Company). “We are finalising deals with many more, especially with the ones that LBG Cardnet has landed a deal with via our partnership.”
Elsewhere, there has been integration with Masterpass, the digital payment service from Mastercard. This will allow users of WoraPay’s mobile wallet WioPay to tap into one-click payments. The partnership was also established through the Startupbootcamp FinTech programme, after WoraPay was mentored by Mastercard employees.
“When companies of such size partner with small FinTech startups you know you are on to something that is of real value. They do not waste time on just any idea. They pick the best. And we are very happy to work together to achieve mutual success,” says Adomauskas.
What has been retailers’ reaction thus far? In a challenging market, what’s to stop a lazy retailer thinking along the lines of, customers know that queueing is part and parcel of the in-store experience, so we should concentrate our tech spend elsewhere? “We have had great acceptance from the industry as retailers start realising that our services can actually help them to increase sales. Sure, this is an innovation and it takes time to learn, both for the retailers how to present it and to the customers, how to change their habits. Nevertheless, once customers try it out a few times they start questioning how they lived without it before.”
He concedes, however, that working with big retailers is never a straightforward process. Nimble startups are used to working at a fast pace, unencumbered by legacy systems and processes. But for the old guard, it takes time to bring in new services and get agreements in place. “We are a startup, therefore we are moving very fast. If a retailer says yes during a lunch meeting, they can have the service up and running the next morning. Nevertheless, most of them are not used to such speeds so we need to adjust to the speed they dictate.”
He continues: “We have proven case studies that introducing the service increases gross sales for the retailer by average about 5%. Every day (and night) I ask why for some retailers this is not enough of a motivation to make decisions here and now. We know the answer which is long processes and all possible risks that companies need to mitigate upfront. Nevertheless, this still keeps us thinking how we can help retailers to make these decisions faster.”
So, what can we expect to see from the startup over the next 12 months? “You should expect to see more and more retailers using our service and, at the same time, the growth of the user base. We are a technology provider to retailers so you might not see our brand out there so often, nevertheless, rest assured, if you do not need to queue to pay, most likely the service is powered by WoraPay technology.”