Mobile Order to Table: build your own, join a platform or Web App?


Introduction

Usually when new hospitality tech emerges, for example digital menus, in-venue WiFi or new takeaway platforms, the adoption rate is fairly organic - slow and steady - with early adopters and then gradually over time the momentum picks up as the industry as a whole chooses whether to accept the tech as the new norm.

But in unusual circumstances, a pressing need to change may emerge which accelerates the rate of adoption.

This is exactly what we’ve seen with Covid’s impact on venues throughout the on-trade industry in the UK and further afield, in relation to how customers order and pay. The “old” way of handing out menus and then having waiting staff hover around tables to take orders, relay those orders to bar & kitchen, deliver to table and then subsequently manually take payments is becoming a thing of the past. The same goes for allowing queues of people to congregate at the bar, waiting for a gap to place a drinks order with the flustered bar staff.

With social distancing and strict requirements to minimise contact seemingly here to stay, things had to change and they have! Not only are they changing - it turns out the new way of ordering & paying has some surprisingly positive side effects, such as increasing spend per head, reducing customer wait times and improving customer service. (PS. Don’t take our word for it - take a look at our Case Studies page for some real examples)

So, what’s best for my venue?

As word of the benefits of mobile to order to table spread, and as customers gravitate to the new way of placing orders - there is no wonder that so many new startups have entered this space and why venues throughout the UK are flocking to an increasingly broad range of mobile order to table solutions. This naturally presents a new challenge - how do you decide the best way forward for your venue?

You have an existing POS, or you may want to control your branding or have other requirements - Just how do you choose the right solution?

This blog looks at some of the options you have - and hopefully helps to answer some of those questions.

Broadly speaking you have the following to choose from (in no particular order):

  1. BUILD YOUR OWN BRANDED MOBILE ORDER TO TABLE APP
  2. USE AN UNBRANDED APP PLATFORM
  3. USE A WEB APP WITH QR CODE READER

Each of the above has pros and cons which we will present below.

DISCLAIMER: Our mobile order to table solution is called ServedUp which is Option 3 above - so naturally this may come across as biased but we hope that the points we make below will help clarify why we think this is the BEST possible choice for your venue.

Read on!

OPTION 1: HAVE YOUR OWN BRANDED MOBILE ORDER TO TABLE APP

How does it work?

At first glance this might seem the best - after all you’ve painstakingly built your venue’s reputation and customer base - so why not build your very own app? Should be easy right? Hire an app developer, or use a specialist provider in this space (for example Pepper) and you build your own branded mobile ordering and payment apps for Android and iOS. Your customers download the app and use this to order and pay in your venue.

PROS:

  • Fully branded
  • You manage and maintain your apps with full control
  • Can build in loyalty programs and more features - depending on budget

CONS:

  • Customers do not like to download a new app for each venue they visit. This is a real sticking point for many customers
  • You have to maintain the app on both iOS and Android platforms - this can be time-consuming and costly
  • This is the most expensive of the 3 options as you’ll have to pay developer fees, or if you use a platform like Pepper, the monthly subscription fees which are in addition to the transaction fees
  • By building your own app you cannot take advantage of the scale benefits of working with a platform. For example at ServedUp we can negotiate the best deals with brands + best deals on payment fees (that’s why ours are far cheaper than anyone else!)

OPTION 2: USE AN UNBRANDED APP PLATFORM

How does it work?

In this scenario you don’t have your own unique mobile app created for customers to create, instead you join an app platform where your venue sits alongside others on the platform. In the takeaway space the biggest examples are Deliveroo and Just Eat. And for standard mobile order to table (in-venue) the most well-known app in this space in the UK is called Round App.

The end customer downloads the main app and can then find and select your venue and use the app to place and pay for orders.

PROS:

  • Easy to get up and running with no setup costs or monthly subscription
  • Part of a community of venues that use the platform and therefore theoretically you have potential exposure to users from other venues who share the platform with you

CONS:

  • The customer still has to download an app and keep this updated each time new versions are rolled out on iOS or Android. Many people struggle with storage space on their mobile devices and downloading additional apps can be seen as a pain.
  • Innovation and the rollout of new features can be slow, like turning a big ship around. Any change needs to be rolled out to all venues on the platform - with all end-customers then having to download the updated version of the mobile app.
  • If a tech problem arises, this can take longer to fix, sometimes with very negative effects on trading. It can take days for Apple / Google to review and approve app changes in the app store which can slow down development and fixes. Here is a case study where this happened to a partner venue of ours who was previously using an unbranded app platform.

OPTION 3: USE A WEB APP WITH A QR CODE READER 😍😍

Ok so we are biased (see disclaimer above) but please do read the reasons why we think this is the absolute best way forward!

How does it work?

Customers visit your venue and are seated. They scan a QR Code on their mobile device, which loads your branded digital menu in a flash. The customers then choose their items, place the order, pay and tip the staff. Orders are then received by the bar/kitchen staff which when ready get dropped off at the table.

What your customers experience

PROS:

  • No App to download! Your customers already have a camera and browser on their mobile which is all that is needed to scan the QR Code to open your venue’s menu.
  • Super easy to get setup and live
  • Allows for takeaway orders (e.g. no need for Deliveroo or Just Eat and their high margins)
  • No monthly subscriptions or payments (transaction fees depend on the provider - TIP: ours are amongst the lowest in the UK)
  • Can integrate with your existing POS
  • Your get your own dashboard to easily manage your menu and review reports and analytics
  • As our the service is Web-based - it allows for much faster innovation and rollout of new features and updates - for the simple reason that we don’t have to build, maintain and rollout these features to every app installed on every mobile device used by your customers
  • Technical glitches and issues can be addressed and fixed faster
  • Your customers don’t have to set up accounts or have any passwords to remember

CONS:

  • You may have some doubt over whether customers will know how to use a QR Code or not - but honestly we’ve seen time and time again that this is simply not a problem when addressed properly. Our customer success team are experts at helping you and your customers adopt this new way of ordering.
  • We honestly can’t think of any more. Can you?

Ready to roll out the best mobile table to order system?

If you haven’t yet made the switch to mobile ordering, or your currently using Option 1 or 2 above and want to switch, click here to find out why ServedUp could be just what you’re looking for.

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