Retail

Designing Mobile Order-Ahead For Roving Vendors

Designing Mobile Order-Ahead For Food Trucks

ResTech startups are sometimes founded out of an entrepreneur’s need for more convenient food ordering options. QuickBite Founder and CEO Richard Reedy worked for a company in East Austin and didn’t have a ton of time to get lunch. He was within walking distance to many different establishments, but the biggest hurdle wasn’t walking to those places: It was waiting for the food to be ready when he arrived.

Reedy also noted that Austin, and East Austin in particular, has an abundance of food trucks, but not many of them had a way for consumers to place their orders online. He wondered if he could place an order ahead of time – such as during a meeting – and have them send a text when his order was ready, so he could pick it up without the wait. The idea has since evolved into a system that serves not only food trucks.

“We’ve kind of expanded to a platform that is more of a replacement for … phone-in orders,” Reedy told PYMNTS in an interview. “It’s become more of an order-ahead platform.”

The company currently has a good amount of halal and pita trucks on the platform, with fusion offerings. In terms of its restaurant selection, offerings run the gamut from Cajun food to Chinese take-out. “We’re pretty varied right now,” Reedy said.

To use the platform, consumers open the company’s iOS or Android app and select a restaurant to see its menu and pictures. When the consumer is ready to place an order, they proceed to a checkout screen to pay via credit card, debit card or Apple Pay. The order is then sent to the restaurant, and diners can pick up their orders by telling the restaurant their name or showing their order screen on the app.

Consumers have shown an appreciation for mobile ordering technology. According to the PYMNTS Mobile-Order Ahead Tracker, 92 percent of customers view placing a quick-service restaurant (QSR) order via mobile app as a positive experience. The tracker also reported that there is a 20 percent average increase in check size for digital orders. Moreover, nearly three in 10 – or 27 percent – of QSR managers have a positive view of ordering and paying through a QSR app.

The Restaurant Platform

To start using the QuickBite service, restaurants or food trucks download the company’s restaurant-facing app and then onboard their entire menu. Once the restaurant tells them how they want to be paid and that they are ready to go live, the company flips the switch on. Payments can come once every two days via automated clearing house (ACH) or debit card. Once they start using the platform, restaurants or food trucks can accept or reject an order. “It … gives them full control of that order,” Reedy said.

While the platform also hosts traditional restaurants, it was designed with the unique needs of food trucks in mind. As they are mobile businesses, their locations can change from day to day, and even from morning to afternoon. With QuickBite, food truck vendors can change their location and schedule variations weeks in advance. If the vendor knows the truck will be downtown for South by Southwest on March 15, for example, she can start putting that information into the system beforehand.

The Business Model

Restaurants and food trucks opt into a pay-as-you-go plan for the service. QuickBite charges 10 percent of each order. “We only make money when they make money,” Reedy noted. Once a restaurant pays $40 in fees, the company drops the percentage down to the cost of credit card fees, so restaurants and food trucks don’t have to worry about the company taking a large cut of their transactions as orders start to roll in.

Since the company is in the takeout game, Reedy said they are not geographically limited (delivery, however, requires a bit of infrastructure). He can take the technology to essentially anywhere in the U.S., to any restaurant that wants to adopt his platform – suggesting that mobile-order ahead platforms focused on pick-up orders can start their businesses in one city and easily scale from there.

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