Restaurant ordering

When Tan HueyMeng, Founder of FoodZaps, was in a restaurant in Vietnam in 2012, he noticed that the order system was clunky, slow and antiquated. The restaurant lacked sufficient waiters and the owner did not have the resources to upgrade to a more sophisticated, automated ordering system.

HueyMeng, a veteran IT professional who has had over 20 years of experience working with mobile operating systems, smart card security and web servers, wanted to alleviate this problem by leveraging on available technology. He wanted to create a restaurant management system that is more efficient, scalable, easy to maintain, yet easy on the wallet.

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This led to the development of FoodZaps, a food order management and point-of-sale (POS) app that is available on the Android platform. It uses a subscription-based model to generate revenue.

HueyMeng says that he chose to work on the Android platform because it is widely available and highly customisable. It is also not restricted to one hardware, unlike the Apple iOS system.

In a nutshell, FoodZaps is a system that streamlines customer ordering and payment processes in cafes, restaurants and bars. The system facilitates the ordering of products through the use of a mobile device. It integrates customer billing and payment system and has an online portal that generates sales reports, providing insights into customer behaviour and product popularity.

Innovating POS technology

POS systems typically exist in two forms – a Legacy system and a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) cloud-based system.

There are obvious limitations to being dependent on only one type of system. The traditional Legacy systems lacks the ability to integrate with other key operations or branches. Managers have to manually be on-site to update the software and access the data. This incurs more time and heavier costs. Thus, Legacy systems are usually only updated once or twice a year.

Cloud-based POS systems, on the other hand, are agile, and frequent software updates can be done remotely as long there is an Internet connection. Data (such as sales) will automatically be synced to the cloud. Any POS devices — such as tablets — connected to it will be able to load the data, allowing managers to access and track data in real time.

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The cost of maintaining a cloud-based POS system is substantially less because unlike a Legacy POS system — which requires the purchase of physical servers to house data — cloud-based POS systems only require the user to rent remote servers on a subscription-based “pay as you go” basis. Users can also save the cost of a complex server hardware installation.

While using FoodZaps, the owner of the restaurant can monitor the sales and analytic reports through the website administrator portal. Using this data, the restaurant owner can improve the menu and services through a mobile tablet, as well as support decision-making on the business operation.

However, being reliant on only a cloud-based solution also has its shortcomings: if there is a lack of an adequate Internet connection, normal restaurant operations would cease to a halt.

FoodZaps overcomes this through its patent pending proprietary protocol.

Essentially it’s a hybrid POS system that combines the traditional Legacy and the cloud-based POS technologies. The former stores data on a closed internal network (for example, a PC or personal server), while the latter functions as a Software-as-a-Service, storing data on a remote server, enabling for online information retrieval.

Thus, during the actual operation, FoodZaps is able to function without any Internet connection, making it a fail-safe restaurant management system.

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Through rigorous testing, HueyMeng and his team discovered that the FoodZaps ordering system is able to reduce the traditional service workflow for restaurants from 24 minutes to nine minutes. Compared to traditional POS systems, HueyMeng believes that it is more user-friendly, quicker and easier to set up compared to its competitors. It also allows F&B players to scale without external IT maintenance cost.

Reception

FoodZaps has seen reasonable traction since its launch in 2014. According to HueyMeng, it has experienced more than 15,000 downloads and is used by eateries globally in countries such as Nigeria, UK, US, Vietnam, Spain and Australia.

For restaurant managers who had to tussle with mistaken orders, a clunky payment system or had to cope with being understaffed, here’s an app that can handle your needs.

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