Apps, Technology

Gelato Messina embraces mobile payments – should your business too?

Dominic Powell /

Gelato Messina. Source: Supplied.

Australian gelato business Gelato Messina is no stranger to success, with 15 stores nationally and a significant social media following. However, up until now, the business has been cash-only.

Now, through a partnership with Australian fintech start-up and SaaS business LOKE, the ice cream giant is introducing mobile payments through a new Gelato Messina app.

A loyalty program is integrated with the payment system, which allows users of the app to earn points and claim free gelato, merchandise, and unique Messina experiences.

LOKE co-founder Tom Booth told SmartCompany about Messina’s success with their payment service and app, which has seen over 20,000 downloads in three days.

LOKE began in 2011 as a Melbourne based digital agency, and progressed into a SaaS based business. The company currently has over 500 deployed apps, and over 500,000 users.

“Essentially what we’ve done is taken the Starbucks mobile payment app that they use in the US, and white labeled it for all brands,” Booth says.

“We’ve tried to make it as streamlined for the customer and the business as possible.”

The new Gelato Messina app allows users to select their products they want to purchase, which in return gives them a ticket number. The customer then tells that ticket number to the server, who looks it up on the system and completes the order.

Declan Lee, co-founder of Gelato Messina, told SmartCompany that the store’s cash-only policy was a result of a lack of both bench space and easily available wireless devices.

“Our cash-only policy originated from the days when cash was the fastest form of transaction and wireless devices weren’t readily available. In addition, our stores don’t have much bench space (all the POS systems are on iPads and our service area is a glass shelf) so we didn’t even have space for credit card machines,” Lee says.

“Things have obviously moved on since then, it just took us a little while to catch up.”

Messina customers are given the option of signing up with credit cards or through PayPal, but Booth is surprised at the large amount of PayPal users.

“In Messina’s case, PayPal is getting 32% of the user’s registration, and usually that number is a fair bit less,” he says.

Although Messina’s app has been wildly popular, even trending on the Apple App Store, the company was initially wary of going with the unconventional payment method.

“The difficulty with mobile payment apps is getting customers on board and getting them to enter in their credit card details. We’ve found with the prevalence of services like UberEats and Deliveroo, people are getting used to putting in their details,” Booth says.

“We had to convince [Messina] pretty hard, they were dubious. In the end, they went with us because they liked us, and they’re already seeing results.”

Lee agrees, saying that customers are “over the moon” about the new app, though some are keeping their waistline in mind.

“Our feedback has been a mixture between people over the moon about the new app, [and] those stressing about how their diet is going to go out of the window now it’s so easy to pay,” he says.

“We’ve had the odd few complaining we should just get PayPass…that’s to be expected though.”

Messina is one of a few companies LOKE has worked with that have skipped EFTPOS entirely. Booth says it is more common for businesses to integrate EFTPOS before tackling mobile payments.

One Brisbane café LOKE has worked with has ditched cash all together, only letting customers purchase with EFTPOS or its mobile application.

“Skipping EFTPOS entirely can make sense, as mobile payment systems are so much more efficient, with less chance of theft. Plus, they allow businesses to gather valuable data about customer purchase habits,” he says.

This data can be tied into better loyalty offerings for customers, which Booth recognises businesses are wanting more and more. LOKE’s loyalty options give the control back to the businesses, and Booth claims that is what’s wanted.

“We let the business fully integrate it into their brand, which gives them more control over customers and customer experience,” he says.

LOKE began primarily serving the hospitality industry, but quickly moved into food retail and more traditional retailers. Currently, the business is widening its net to cover all forms of retail, recently signing up with a butchery.

“Anywhere someone would go six times a year at minimum is suitable for our app,” Booth says.

Lee beleives that LOKE’s mobile payment service better suits simpler business models, claiming that is why Messina chose the service.

“It depends on the business model – we wanted something simple which can do the payment and loyalty easily. It integrates well with our POS, which means store staff can easily learn and process payments.”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the former features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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