Imagine walking into a nice restaurant, being escorted to your table, and immediately seeing that your meal is ready and waiting for you to dig in. After your meal, you leave without once removing your wallet from your pocket for the simple reason that you’ve already paid for your meal even before arriving at the restaurant.
Imagine the amountof time saved, and the hassle of miscommunication between you andyour waiter completely avoided. Well, there’s already an app forall of that.
In the bustling commercial hub of Damansara is a technology startup aiming to revolutionise the F&B industry. Co-founded and run by a team of five made up of Jason Hor, Kelvin Kwek, Ashton Tam, Rex Ong, and Lee Teng.
The company calls itself Aliments (French for food) and promises a future where F&B businesses and patrons can enjoy a seamless experience whether it be dine-in or takeaway.
Essentially, Aliments is a B2B business that streamlines the ordering and payment processes for restaurants and cafes to the point where there is no need for a human to bring you a menu, jot down your order, or collect payment from your table.
The only thing leftfor a waiter to do is to bring you your food and clear your tableafterwards, or not even that if you’re just taking away.
Their service works via an app built from the ground up that integrates with the POS systems of F&B outlets.
It allows patrons to browse through a menu on the phone, place their orders, and make payments right on the spot, with e-wallet integration included to make things easier, especially for repeat customers.
“We wanted to eliminate the pain points of waiters and waitresses punching in wrong orders, and instead make the ordering process as error-free as possible.”
Founded in March 2017, the five-man team behind Aliments came together after seeing an opportunity to disrupt the local F&B industry and took just a month to create their MVP and bring it to market, eventually soft-launching their platform in November the same year.
“When we firststarted out we engaged with only two to three merchant vendors justto find out what the real need of the market was and to find outdemand,” the team said. “Ultimately, we wanted to make sure thatour solution was one needed by diners and F&B owners.”
After encouragingsigns, they’ve managed to garner over a thousand active usersmonthly and have expanded to nearly 30 outlets within the PetalingJaya region—not exactly rapid growth but a rate that they’recomfortable working with for now.
“We work veryclosely with our merchants—we chit-chat with them to make sure thatour solution is actually solving a problem,” they said, revealingalso that they have so far managed to grab a hold of a very specific,yet lucrative consumer segment.
Today, 80 percent ofAliments’ sales comes from its ‘order ahead’ option, with theoffice lunch crowd making up most of the numbers due to thespeediness afforded during shot lunch breaks.
“After work hours,many of us don’t mind waiting a little longer for our food ordrink, but during lunch hours, we don’t have that luxury,” theysaid.
This, they explained, is the reason why they’ve managed to bring on board so many eateries and cafes around the urban Petaling Jaya and Damansara area, where coffee houses and lunch specials abound.
But more importantly, they feel that this benefit will also eventually translate into something that can be appreciated throughout the day.
“Our app definitely has the potential for continuous engagement, because when it comes to food, you need three meals a day,” the team said. “This is opposed to other services such as ride-sharing which you might only need once a day or none at all.”
A Slow Boil
But beyond all of this, there remains the question of long-term survival and sustainability. Here the team revealed that their game plan is to now ensure their platform goes beyond just acquiring merchants, but to also ensure they make the experience for businesses and users as valuable as possible.
For example, integrating with Vcash to allow quick and easy repeat payments, and they’re introducing an extremely affordable promotional deal for merchants to get integrated with Aliments—for 2019, there’ll be no charge for F&B businesses that bring in more than RM1,000 in sales.
Plus, they’ve also introduced Prime—a feature that lets customers pre-purchase menu items in bulk (similar to a stamp loyalty card) that rewards them with bonuses and freebies depending on each outlet. They explained that in addition to rewarding the customer, business owners would also be able to enjoy an advance injection of cash.
Ultimately, the aim for them right now is to strengthen their user-base and the number of merchants available on the platform, but with the potential for their platform to add value to the dining experience, the Aliments team are confident of going the distance.
“We don’t see ourselves as a food-ordering platform only, but we also see ourselves solving many other problems by streamlining the dining experience.”
Feature Image Credit: Aliments