If you spend enough time dining out, you would mostly be frustrated with the long queue at popular restaurants. During peak hours, it is almost implied that you have to stand in queues for up to half an hour before getting seated. Upon seating, you will be presented with the menu and it takes another 15 minutes to place your orders.
It is almost as if we have accepted this standard of inefficiency throughout all mid-range restaurants in Singapore during peak periods.
And that is not ok.
Menus In The Palm Of Your Hand
Enter Frunk. A new startup in Singapore, Frunk is re-thinking this problem and how food ordering is currently done in restaurants. Instead of presenting customers with a physical and/or eMenu only when they reach the restaurant, Frunk wants to bring menus to the hand of customers before they are even at the restaurants.
Customers are able to download Frunk onto their mobile phones. With the app, customers are able to view the restaurant’s menu and make decisions about their order while still in the queue and/or travelling down. The moment they are seated at their table, all they need to do is tap their phone to the sticker on the table and their order will be sent instantly to the merchant.
Yes it’s that easy. And orders will not be able to be sent unless they are seated at their table at the restaurant.
iBeacons And What You Need To Know
So what actually happens? Frunk, is one of the many companies around the world attempting to bring Apple’s iBeacon technology to the mass market. For those unfamiliar, iBeacon is the trademark for an indoor proximity system that Apple Inc. calls “a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence.” With the iBeacon technology, when a smartphone interacts with it in close proximity, actions can be performed.
iBeacon uses Bluetooth low energy proximity sensing to transmit a universally unique identifier picked up by a compatible app or operating system. The identifier can then be looked up over the internet to determine the device’s physical location or trigger an action on the device such as a check-in on social media or a push notification.
In Frunk’s case, iBeacons are used to determine the exact table number and restaurant the user is at, and only allow orders to be sent when verification is successful. The iBeacon is in the form of a table top sticker where customers simply tap their phone onto the sticker.
On top of that, customers can gain access to all the different restaurant menus on Frunk, instead of just one single restaurant. Customers haven been telling Frunk that they will most likely not download an app just to access a single restaurant, and this lead to Frunk consolidating all menus in one place.
For merchants, Frunk sounds like a promising solution to the increasing labour crunch problem as well as the lack of money to invest in tech productivity problems: the cost of using iBeacon is “negligibly low” as founder Beavan puts it, as the team manages, run and maintain the software platform. At S$30 per iBeacon, the solution is cheaper than the present market solutions such as the iPad eMenus. With Frunk’s iBeacon solution too, restaurants can reduce its manpower cost too as you do not need waiters to go around taking orders manually.
So far, three restaurants have signed up to use Frunk: BonChon Chicken at Bugis+, Pho Stop at Tanjong Pagar Road, as well as The Bar Above at Tanjong Pagar Road.
Founded by Beavan Chua and Kimberlee Ho, Frunk is incubated under SITF and hopes to bring some sexy technology into the traditional F&B industry in Singapore.
And from the sound of Beavan’s recent Facebook post which reads: “What should you be thinking when your product performs TOO well in tests that the merchant needs to reshuffle his processes to cater for the flood of orders?“, looks like we are definitely going to see more of Frunk around in Singapore restaurants and cafes.