Hi-tech take-out restaurants: Making ‘fast food’ real fast

Tapingo provides business owners with the easiest and most convenient way around to take orders from the outside.

Tapingo 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tapingo 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There’s a problem with fast food: It’s really not that fast! By the time you drive out to a coffee shop or burger joint, find parking, get out of the car, wait in line and pay for your food, you might as well have gone home and whipped yourself up a sandwich.
How’s this for an idea: You order your breakfast or lunch from your favorite joint while you’re on the road – via your cellphone, using an app called Tapingo (www.tapingo.com), which displays restaurants, menus, prices and everything else you need to know. You tap in your choices (of course, you’ve stopped the car and are parked on the shoulder while you’re doing this) and then put in your credit-card details. Once you’ve ordered, you drive to the restaurant, double park (check for traffic cops first), run in and grab the bag that has your name on it – and drive away with your meal to enjoy it at your home, office or even the beach.
Now that’s how fast food should work, and Tapingo, says Guy Bauman, the company’s vice president for marketing, wants to enable fast-food fressers in Israel, and around the world, to get their breakfasts, lunches and dinners as quickly and efficiently as possible, without wasting an excess moment on the operation.
“It’s another tool for the mobile, on-the-go lifestyle,” he says. “Thanks to services like iTunes, people have gotten used to buying products over the phone. Why not bring that same concept to ordering food?” Ease of use – both for consumers and restauranteurs – is the “secret sauce” Tapingo brings to ordering in.
“Whether at the office or at home, it’s become natural for consumers to use their cellphones for nearly all their communication needs, even where a desktop computer is available,” Bauman says. “Tapingo shows users their dining options in the area, lets them browse for menu choices all from one app – already a big time saver.
“And they can order and pay via credit card, using the information they put into the app when they set it up, saving even more time, without the need to fumble for their wallets while speaking on the phone to an order taker.”
The price is clear, and so is the order and the expected delivery times, so there are no misunderstandings on either side.
It’s a great deal for restauranteurs too, Bauman says, adding: “The best part for business owners is that they don’t have to install any new hardware. The application feeds the orders into the establishment’s existing order system, with the menu choices and payment information going straight to the restaurant’s point-of-sales system.
The order gets processed in the kitchen and delivery department in exactly the same way as an order placed by someone standing at the cash register.”
It’s like found money – actually, found business – for restaurants, he says, because it expands their potential customer reach to anyone using Tapingo.
Other services that try to connect Web or cellphone users exist, Bauman says, but all of them are a hassle for restauranteurs to integrate into their business because they require special (and often expensive) equipment, phone codes or faxes.
“Tapingo provides business owners with the easiest and most convenient way around to take orders from the outside,” he says.
As an app, Tapingo has been around for a few months, but it became ready for prime time only in the past few weeks. Currently available for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry, Tapingo’s first target area is the business district of central Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan. Dozens of restaurants offering delivery service in the area are included, and you can sort restaurants by type (Chinese, cafe, kosher, etc.).
Prices and choices are listed, and when you order, you’re asked to insert your credit-card information (the system is very secure and accepts Paypal as well). Press send, and either sit back and wait, or amble on down to the restaurant to pick up your lunch or dinner – no waiting, guaranteed! One other great feature, Bauman adds, is that the entire application – including the menu items, prices and restaurant information – is available in English, even if the actual menus in the restaurant are only available in Hebrew.
“There’s a great deal of interest among restaurants to join us,” he says. “Our fees are very easy for them to swallow. Basically, it’s a form of revenue sharing, whereby if we get them business, we take a small percentage of the sale. Otherwise it costs them nothing, and customers pay the same whether they order via Tapingo or at the counter.”
First Tel Aviv, then the rest of Israel, and finally – the world, Bauman says, adding: “Within weeks we will be including restaurants in the Sharon, and then [we’ll] move on to Beersheba, Jerusalem and other locations in Israel.”
Tapingo also is planning to go international, he says.
“We’re still working on how to deploy the application, but we’ve begun talks with groups abroad to set up a Tapingo system for them as well,” he says.
And restaurants are just the beginning, Bauman says.
“It’s not just an application, it’s a platform that can be deployed in numerous ways, such as for gifts, flowers, and other markets – any place that has a digital point of sales system,” he says.
Meanwhile, residents, workers and visitors to Tel Aviv – as well as those living in cities where Tapingo will soon expand to – are invited to download the app for free. The Tapingo experience promises to be an eye-opener for those of us who are used to long waits at counters waiting for our “fast food.” Who has time?
Let Tapingo do the waiting for you; you’ll find yourself enjoying your meal a lot more when you don’t have to schlepp to get it!