Ever wanted to eat at a restaurant without getting out of bed? Foodlist's the answer to that
Enjoying cuisine from one of the many restaurants in the New Brunswick and Piscataway areas is a staple of the Rutgers lifestyle. A new company aims to change how students order food by letting them do so online.
Foodlist, an app-based company launching this month, plans to connect users with restaurants online. The app will streamline the ordering process while also providing free delivery, said a spokesperson for the company, whose name was withheld for investor purposes.
“We want to catalyze a shift from offline ordering to online ordering,” the spokesperson said. “Right now our focus is on enhancing the restaurant experience.”
Many industries have already shifted to doing business online, he said. The food industry has notably been absent from this shift, with between 90 and 95 percent of all orders still being placed offline.
Foodlist works by allowing users to select a specific restaurant and a menu item from that restaurant, he said. After that all they have to do is wait. The app will allow users to designate certain items as their "favorite" items, which will then be pinned to the front page of the app.
“This isn’t something brand new, but (in other apps) it might be buried... we wanted to bring it to the forefront, so as soon as you open the app (you see) the tiles,” he said. “It’s a three-tap process. You order and the rest is taken care of.”
At the moment users have to select their favorites from the menus loaded into the app, he said. Later, the app might be able to recognize certain items as favorites and automatically pin those to the front.
Having favored menu items pinned to the front of the app will help increase its efficiency, he said. Studies conducted by Foodlist have shown that people tend to order the same menu items from a particular restaurant.
“You might have a rotation of restaurants going but if you say go to Chipotle, 80 percent of the time you’ll order a burrito bowl,” he said.
Foodlist was inspired in part by present online-ordering sites such as GrubHub, he said. Services such as GrubHub bring in a large volume of customers.
Sandra Glading, director of Media Relations for GrubHub, said in an email the site enables users to order take-out from nearby restaurants, which in turn helps these businesses expand.
“GrubHub helps restaurants thrive by connecting them with local customers, providing the tools and technology to help them succeed and enabling business innovation,” she said.
Foodlist aims to go beyond GrubHub by also offering free delivery, the spokesperson said.
This will save users one or two dollars every time they order out, he said.
Foodlist is starting with a private beta launch during September, he said. During this time the company aims to work out any kinks in the service and figure out how to optimize user experience.
The company can also talk to restaurants during this time to make sure customer experience is as positive as possible.
At the moment ten restaurants have signed up to work with Foodlist, and they are looking for up to 100 beta-testers.
“We (will) set up meetings via phone or in-person with the users to get feedback from them,” he said. “We want to keep things very controlled.”
Testers will get discounts and free meals from the company during the trial period.
The company plans to launch publicly in October 2015, and will eventually include more restaurants, he said. Provided any issues have been worked out, the company will continue to grow.
Rutgers was selected due to the volume of students who order out in the area, he said.
“A (large number) of students order between two and three times a week,” he said. “In terms of the sheer absolute number, there is a solid number of restaurants in the area and a solid number of people who order out.”
The data University students can provide will help make the app more efficient and allow the company to estimate what a public launch can look like.
Using the app would make things more convenient, said Brooke Lockwood, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.
While delivery can be expensive, a service providing free delivery would make it easier for students to stay in their rooms, she said.
Right now users can only gain access to the service through Foodlist’s website, the spokesperson said.