The launch of Scottish App Stars (#SAS30) earlier this year caused much excitement in the digital tech community. At Waracle, we decided there was no better way to follow up than to interview some of the Scottish App Stars themselves!
As Scotland’s largest mobile app development and Internet of Things (IoT) company, we enjoy seeing other Scottish companies having great success with mobile apps. We’re fascinated by what makes a good app.
So, second in this series of #SAS30 interviews, we reach out to Daniel Rodgers at QikServe to hear his thoughts on thinking mobile first and founding an app. What can we say – it’s made an exciting interview!
So, read on and learn the motive behind such a successful restaurant self-service order app and hear how Scotland as a tech nation is helping with their business success.
Daniel Rodgers based in Edinburgh, founded QikServe in 2011 and is passionate about its mobile order and payment app which is empowering self service in hospitality. Like so many of Scotland’s thriving tech companies, QikServe started in CodeBase, the UK’s largest startup incubator, home to more than 90 of the country’s best technology companies. Kudos must go to Jamie Coleman, Owner and Chairman of Codebase for creating this tech incubator since almost 20% of the #SAS30 apps are a result of Codebase companies!
QikServe allows guests to order and pay for their food and drink wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them. QikServe’s mobile app allows restaurant operators to give guests control over their own journey, enabling them to browse the menu, customise their order, collect reward points, redeem offers and pay, all from the convenience of their mobile. This means effective queue busting, reduced staff costs and increased average transaction value for operators and an enhanced, consistent, convenient experience for guests.
Anyone who has a smartphone, revels in super-fast service and enjoys browsing a menu, ordering and paying for their meal through the convenience of their mobile. Apps have traditionally been marketed to the Millennial and Gen Y demographics but the usability and intuitive nature of QikServe mobile journey really opens itself up to demographics that may have been overlooked in the past such as the Baby Boomers.
1: What was the main reason behind developing QikServe?
As with any good business idea, it was borne out of identifying a common problem that had yet to be solved.
Dan, QikServe’s Founder and CEO, was with his wife and children in a London restaurant where customers had to order at the counter. The restaurant was busy, and the whole process was simply an irritation and a bother as customers had to queue and staff service was in short supply. He found himself thinking “there must be an app for this”.
After some research, he found that no-one had in fact thought of this before; he also discovered that many people he spoke to had experienced similar frustrating incidences at restaurants. With the rise of Smartphone adoption and growing expectation from consumers for immediate service, the market was crying out for a simple application that allows customers to order and pay straight from their mobile phone. And QikServe was born.
2: Dan, what did you find most challenging when developing the app?
Despite sectors such as Banking, Retail and Travel embracing mobile self-service, we were surprised about how behind the curve Hospitality was. As mobile boarding passes, airline apps, mobile banking and online shopping were becoming mainstream, we found Hospitality were reluctant to follow suit despite the huge benefits mobile self-service offered not only them but their guests.
Over the past couple of years, Hospitality has begun to catch up with highly publicised app launches by the likes of Starbucks helping the mobile revolution within the sector.
One of the most challenging aspects of developing the app was the significant difference in levels of investment for a B2B vs B2C app. Where B2C apps tend to be well funded, our B2B solution and limited funding caused us to adjust our strategy leading to a platform approach.
Instead of selling an app, we focused on promoting a powerful platform that allows brands to connect their guest facing channels (mobile, kiosk, web and mobile) with their complex network of back-end systems such as POS, payments, marketing and loyalty solutions etc. This allows brands to simplify the complexity of often disparate back-end databases and systems by allowing them to feed into one platform, drawing on data and functionality to provide the ultimate in guest experience.
3: What changes have you seen in mobile app loyalty?
App downloads, usage and engagement continue to grow for our Hospitality customers. The powerful marketing and loyalty capabilities our app affords brands means they can target customers based on past behavior and preferences.
This more personalised approach means greater loyalty and a better overall experience for guests as programs and campaigns become more attractive and relevant to their specific needs and preferences.
4:Does your app data give you good insights into mobile behaviour?
QikServe allows operators to collect highly detailed customer data. When a guest logs into the app, we’re able to gather information such as which stores they use more frequently, what time of day they tend to eat, if they order for themselves or for a group such as a family, what they order, how they like their order and what customisations they make as well as things like payment preferences.
5: How do you use the data to optimise the app?
Operators are able to use this data not so much to optimise the app but to optimise the guest experience going forward. For example, a restaurant can geo-locate their guests and send out an offer based on their location and past preferences:
“Hi John, we’ve not seen you for a while and we’re just around the corner, why not pop in for your favourite: a cinnamon bagel and a free espresso?”
6: Does your app use push notifications?
Yes, we believe this type of marketing is important! Our app allows restaurants to push messages to their customers. QikServe believes push notifications are very important, especially if done in a targeted, personalised way (see example above).
By using data to power smarter, intel-led campaigns, operators stand to gain not only an immediate boost in sales but valuable, long-term loyalty from their guests.
7: What are your thoughts on the future of mobile?
When it comes to the Hospitality industry, QikServe believes it’s not the specific channel such as mobile, web, tablet and kiosk that brands should be focused on but the underpinning platform and associated databases that feed content and enable functionality through these channels that is important. Data syndication and true integration of back end systems is what will drive the success of front-end channels such as mobile.
Of course, as mobile features such as voice activation, conversational systems, geo-location, payments etc become more advanced and prevalent amongst smartphone users, operators can capitalise on them to continually enhance the guest experience.
8: Dan, you are evidently proud to be part of the Scottish digital tech sector, tell us more!
The decision to base ourselves in Scotland has proven to be a good one, as Edinburgh is increasingly seen as one of Europe’s key technology hubs. The city has enabled us to assemble the most talented and dedicated team I have ever worked with.
It also has an investor community that’s passionately supportive of technology companies, and that’s given us the oxygen to grow. I truly believe Edinburgh is one the best cities in the world, not just to start and grow a business, but also to live.
Thank you Dan! On behalf of all at Waracle we’d like to congratulate you on your success in the Scottish Digital tech sector.
Here’s our key takeaways from our interview:
“there must be an app for this”
As with most mobile app founders, an app idea does come from the need to take something into a mobile first way of thinking. For ideas, read our top 5 mobile megatrends for 2017.
“more personalised approach means greater loyalty”
If you want to improve your app then the real data to analyse is engagement! Looking at the time between the user’s first session and their next one i.e. their frequency is a good measure of loyalty and will help you with a personalised approach to marketing. Check out our tips on how to monitor and improve your app using data.
“Instead of selling an app, we focused on promoting a powerful platform”
It’s not enough to market an app alone, you need to promote the benefits of the app and a platform approach works well. For inspiration on how to develop a mobile app faster check out 3 ways to innovate faster using agile.
“geo-locate users and send out an offer based on their location and past preferences”
Big brands are developing geofencing apps in order to provide a highly customised and contextually relevant app for customers. Why not read our 3 reasons why geofencing is great for brands!
“push notifications are very important, especially if done in a targeted, personalised way”
Push notifications are a great way to keep users engaged with your app and set you apart from your competitors. Check out our tips on how to create a killer push notification campaign!
“mobile features such as voice activation, conversational systems, geo-location, payments etc become more advanced and prevalent”
If you’re wondering how voice activated search will impact your business, the time to start planning is now. Read the business impact of WWDC 2017 which heavily covers voice activation.
Do you agree with these key takeaways?
Perhaps you have additional questions you’d like us to ask Dan? Let us know using #SAS30 and we’ll get back to you soon! In the meantime why not read the background to why we researched the Scottish App Stars and make sure to return to the Waracle Mobile blog and read the interview with Mallzee!