FoodIT challenged 3wks to deliver a complete end-to-end solution for restaurant orders. What happened next was magic.

Where it Began

FOODit, was a new company created from its parent company, JJ Foods Service. JJ Foods is a major wholesale retailer in the UK, delivering food to more than 40,000 restaurants across the country. FOODit engaged 3wks to assist in building their digital offering for restaurants. Their vision was to provide a complete end-to-end online platform to help restaurants get more orders and help better manage their business. Through the Google cloud partnership Foodit found 3wks who flew over to the UK to explain the process via a half-day workshop with Rif Kiamilthe CEO. Given the go-ahead we immediately started delivery and within a couple of weeks had built a baseline product which we were validating with real restaurants.

Drivers for change

JJ Foods spoke with restaurants on a daily basis and noticed that they were unhappy with the current online model of being forced into a marketplace which charged high percentage fees and pressured discounting. It was also apparent that restaurants struggled with technology, and moving their business online. They were making large investments in expensive EPOS systems and spending significant amounts of money on dead websites which resulted in no traffic, and in a many cases degraded the brand of the restaurant due to poor design.

Desired Outcomes

The learnings from being able to move so quickly and validate ideas were invaluable to FOODit as it allowed the product to move in  a direction which solved the real issues the customers had rather than assumed problems. A year later FOODit had delivered the  product to hundreds of customers and generated thousands of orders on the platform. FOODit had matured as a product and 3wks assisted the transition over to FOODit’s new internal team.

3wks took the time to understand us, our customers and our business goals. 3wks isn’t a development house, they’re a whole approach to building products and services. They’re helping to build your business, not just code.

foodit-interface

Building the MVP

The aim was to get a MVP release out as soon as possible; this meant being as lean as possible. The MVP would provide the ability to create a basic restaurant website, create a menu, and receive a order. It deliberately cut out functionality around payments, SMS, reservations etc, which would extend the timeline of delivery. We wanted to be able test the ability to sell a basic solution and learn from this process. Building lean provided us with the ability to then start validating feature ideas quickly.

It took just two weeks to get a baseline restaurant website solution completed. During this time Rif and the 3wks team spoke to restaurants and started conversations about the problems they faced. We now had a solution to validate assumptions with actual users; for instance, is the availability of multiple food options more important than the ability to pay online? This removed assumptions in debates as the customer feedback controlled what features were important.

Selling the solution

Customers are the most critical part to our business and, in this case the customers are the restaurants FOODit supplied to. The best way we could assist FOODit was to operate as if we were part of their business and get immediate feedback from their customers. To get better engagement with the customers the 3wks team spoke to local restaurants in Sydney every lunchtime, selectively targeting a restaurant. We asked them if they wanted an online channel or, if they already had one, whether they wanted to improve on it. Apart from it being a lot of fun what was invaluable was what came out of this process. It was clear that restaurants wanted more sales as well as an understanding of who their customers were. They also wanted to improve their brand’s social presence.

End of MVP

The MVP process had proved we could sell the solution to the customer. Rif was able to report back to the board the results and learnings from the trial. At that stage FOODit decided that 3wks was the best company to move forward with FOODit.

At the end of the experiment, I selected the 3wks team and Google App Engine as our main platform. 3wks was perhaps the most fluent in the “lean way”, constantly challenging each other on whether each decision was truly the leanest.

After the MVP

Moving beyond the MVP 3wks applied the same lean approach to building the FOODit business model. The high level goals were firstly to increase orders and secondly, help scale the business so that it could grow quickly. These goals where applied daily to the project backlog and prioritised based on feedback from restaurants. The great thing about FOODit was that its parent company had daily access to over 40,000 restaurants so we were able to leverage this to increase the level of feedback we got from customers and prioritise the backlog of tasks. With a standard 3wks team of three people we released daily to production. It was not uncommon for restaurants to receive over twenty new features a week on the platform.

Building trust with users

Feedback from users made it clear that one of the critical aspects of ordering food from the restaurant platform was confirmation that the order had been received/accepted. It was common that restaurants would miss the order as they did not check their emails often enough, and that an email confirmation to the person ordering the food was not always viewed. 3wks quickly solved this problem by implementing SMS messaging. Restaurants then received an SMS with a confirmation link and the person ordering was notified that their order had been received and was being prepared. We then iterated on this feature by implementing a new feature to make automated calls to the restaurant if they had not confirmed an order within five minutes of the order being placed. This was pivotal in building trust in the solution, from both the restaurant’s perspective and that of the person ordering the food.

Growing the business

Increasing traffic to their restaurants’ sites was a major objective of the FOODit platform as it directly increased the funnel to lead to more orders. The project backlog was prioritised to focus on pushing more traffic to the site via content strategies. These strategies focused on local areas and the unique attributes of the cuisine and offerings on the menu. Another major goal was to improve efficiencies. The feedback was that users wanted a dashboard and the ability to print the order and pass that printed order to the chef the same way their business used for in-house orders. Based on this feedback, we implemented the EPOS dashboard app. This was customised to alert the restaurant staff when an order was placed and automatically print the receipt on a small bluetooth-connected thermal printer. This meant that restaurants now had a view of all their customers and orders and could seamlessly pass orders to the kitchen for preparation.

Scaling the business

An immediate hurdle to scaling the business was the sign-up process. There was a considerable amount of admin involved in setting up restaurants which 3wks had directly experienced as the team had to run through the process of setting up the first 30 restaurants. This set up process was invaluable as it gave the 3wks team first-hand insight into the pain points and what needed to be automated and made simpler. The result was a sign-up process which enabled the FOODit sales and admin team to on-board restaurants quickly.

Some people are already telling us that they’re getting hundreds of extra customers … We estimate that restaurants can add £15K to sales by using us, but some restaurants have reported as much as £35K in extra sales from online orders generated by FOODit.

Transition

After FOODit ramped up its team including five new technical staff, 3wks began the transition to their new internal team. To make the process as smooth as possible we migrated FOODit into our support team. This enabled FOODit to work directly with our developers to deliver new features on a daily basis following our lean approach to delivery. This process included code reviews to ensure quality and consistency across the platform. After six months of transition and support FOODit was confident that they were ready to support the platform themselves. They now had experienced the 3wks process and had a solid understanding of the technology platform that had been delivered. 3wks let go of the reigns and have confidently watched FOODit grow it as a business. The FOODit team have since ramped up to more than 30 people in size and had signed up more than 500 restaurants. It was amazing to be part of such a successful strategy which had such a great outcome for restaurant owners.

A year after work began and we had delivered over one thousand features and proven the system could increase growth for customers, which is reflected in the thousands of orders made on the platform every week.

35000

£ Increase in Sales

500

Signups in 6 months