The role of a menu has been the same for ages. But now that we're starting to use the digital as a safer option in times of a pandemic, why not optimise the possibilities that our screens have over paper?
A digital menu through a QR code. But we wanted to build one that would focus on service. Is it the same as human service? No. But it's about 80% there, and that's better than zero.
Instead of starting with "here's what we've got," asking "what are you in the mood for?" —and then we'll work our way down to a good option. Introducing: Our digital helper, for when times get tough.
It's early 2020 and the global hospitality industry has to close its doors. Upon opening back up, we're seeing QR-based menus pop-up like mushrooms. And of course, less personal contact reduces the risk. But it also reduces the level of connection.
The role of a menu is pretty straight-forward. It shows what a venue has to offer — and then leaves you to figure it what you want. Still not sure? That's when the waiting staff comes into play. But if we start ordering through QR-codes, how do we offer the same level personal attention?
Our solution finds its base in the workflow of mixologists. When a customer sits down at their bar, the first question is: "What kind of flavours do you like?" Knowing their offerings, they could still bring that back to an item on the menu. But the offerings are not the starting point; the customer is.
This could apply to everything. From a brunch menu ("are you in the mood for sweet or savoury?") to an extensive wine list ("do you like dry or fruity?") — the options for service are endless. Is it better than a person? Of course not. But it is definitely better than a list of options.
Before diving into an investment, we wanted to test our assumptions. So we started with a prototype. This allowed us to test our logic, way of asking, and navigation. The biggest downside, though? No integration with the order system.
What we did get to test, however, was how accurate our helper's recommendations were. And we were happily surprised with the results — many times the response we got was: "Wow, that's exactly what I was in the mood for!"
Other benefits include being able to use much more imagery to help guide a customer towards a decision. And this means a much more inclusive menu. Dyslexic, or bad vision? No problem, no need to read through endless lists of ingredients.
We have tested our prototype against 50 real users, half of which was willing to give us feedback. On a scale of one to ten, they've given us an average rating of 8,8. We believe that we can bring that rating even further up by building our own product which will allow us to improve the Customer Experience as well as the workflow even further.
A great alternative for when service isn't available
Once we start building our tool, the most important thing would be a seamless integration with the existing order and payment structure — the first one would most likely be Lightspeed. Second most important aspect would be the ease of adding menu items (CMS), followed by the ability to personalise branding.
Other ideas on our wish list? Direct payment integrations to facilitate splitting the bill more easily. Making the menu even more inclusive? Adding an audio option. Or how about we start using this at the wine section in the supermarket? Because let's be honest — nobody ever really knows which wine to pick there, right?
Are you active in the F&B industry, and interested to use our product in the future? Don't hesitate to reach out to us! We'd love your input, too. Simply hit the purple button, or send us an email. We're here to listen.