Australian Developed Apps Help Make Life Easier For Foodservice Businesses

Key points

  • New players have entered the market who are offering innovative technologies and online models designed to make life easier for foodservice professionals and customers alike
  • Me&U is an Australian-designed and built app developed to make contactless ordering easier
  • It also removes a number of common ‘pain points’ for diners and staff
  • EatClub is another Aussie world first, designed to entice customers back to dine-in through first in, first served discounts

With app-based menu ordering and booking having really taken off over the past 12 months, we’re now seeing the rise of new players in the market offering innovative technologies and online models designed to make life easier for both hospitality professionals and their customers.

One of the latest innovations is a new Australian-designed and built app, Me&U which has been developed to make contactless ordering from the table easier while at the same time removing a number of common ‘pain points’ for diners and staff alike.

Two of those are the removal of all the hassle around having to split bills at the point of payment, and the end of queuing either for payment or to give orders. Instead customers can order and pay at the table via phone (with the ability to split the bill among themselves), freeing up front of house staff for other duties such as overseeing the entire floorspace and devoting themselves to fulfilling specific customer requirements.

This means that you can dispense with printed menus altogether, along with the familiar grab for the Eftpos machine or tablet. Other useful features include the ability to set a wait time for particular menu items during busy service periods, and to quickly mark an item as sold out to avoid customer disappointment.

As the software has been designed for the Australian market, it also includes such functionality as the ability to add easily set surcharges in advance for Sunday trading or public holidays, so they’ll start on a specified time and day each week as required.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also employed, with the app’s Quicksells feature leveraging an algorithm based on customer order trends to suggest the most popular food items – functionality that Me&U claims is generating increased spends of 27.5 per cent per customer.

There’s also a Smart Upselling feature which suggests add-ons such as side dishes and drinks, and a Featured Product which can be highlighted at the top of each menu section to further encourage purchase.

Customers can also be prompted to leave tips, with businesses able to configure tipping amounts or leave it to the customer to decide. Since this feature was introduced, Me&U says the venues using its app have seen up to 50 per cent growth in tips.

Another Aussie world-first app designed to make life easier is EatClub, founded by celebrity chef Marco Pierre White and designed to entice customers back into restaurants and fight back against the third party delivery platforms that are taking a chunk of the industry’s profits.

EatClub helps you fill your empty tables in off-peak or quiet periods by communicating special deals to potential customers. You can list a limited amount of last minute specials (from 10 to 50 per cent off for a limited number of tables) to the app which can be redeemed by customers on a first in, first served basis - once a customer takes up a deal, it immediately disappears from the app. All deals are a straight percentage off and include drinks.

The idea is to create new demand for dine-in by using the same kind of strategic discount pricing that works for the hotel and airline sectors. Key to its success is its immediacy: you can upload deals and have them go live in little as two seconds to bring customers through your doors, and they can check the app to see if any have been listed before making their decision as to where to dine out. This functionality means EatClub can also encourage customers who haven’t previously dined at your business to give it a go.

Unsurprisingly, the greater the discount offered, the greater the take-up by customers, as reported by EatClub. But the fact remains that even a discounted table is always more profitable than an empty one! More than 1,400 Australian restaurants are currently using it to access over a million diners and revenue boosts of up to 90 per cent over slow periods have been reported.