When I started working heavily in the food scene I was amazed at how few restaurants utilize technology to connect with customers. Few even had a website, and most of those were under utilized or outdated. I could count on one hand the number who took technology beyond that to using something more like an app.
Five years later, not much has changed despite a stronger adoption in other industries. It seems to have less to do with the need for technology, and more to do the difficulty to set up and maintain websites and apps. Thankfully a Little Rock based startup is working to make it easier.
Altimize is the brainchild of Bryan Howe who has spent much of his career in the tech industry. The company offers a platform for restaurants to easily and quickly create a mobile app.
“We wanted to make it easy for restaurants to connect with customers,” Howe says. “Over 90% of potential customers have a smartphone on them at any given time. By reaching customers where they are and making it easy to order we have shown a significant increase in sales.”
The main focus for restaurants on the Altimize platform is call in and pickup orders. The system allows a customer to browse a menu, add items, make modifications, and schedule a pickup time. The system works just as easy for restaurants offering in house delivery options as well.
Compared to hiring an outside developer for a custom app, Howe says the cost to restaurants looking to create an app is low. There is a small upfront charge and a low cost monthly fee after that. Unlike delivery services there is no percentage taken from sales.
Similar to the new delivery services, Altimize provides an iPad to review and accept the orders. The system itself can take payments through a variety of payment gateways. You can either use the Altimize platform to manage orders, or put it into your POS from there.
In the early stages A.W. Lins and Mugs Cafe have mobile restaurant apps, both offering online ordering. Mugs leverages a loyalty system in addition to the online ordering. Both are available from either the Apple or Android app stores.
From my perspective, I am excited to see someone doing this in the market. Over 75% of our readers are mobile, the possibility of being able to introduce a new menu, then be able to link directly into ordering some of the new items is something that would be highly useful.
Plus some of our favorite spots that offer easy pickup like Three Fold, Heights Taco, Jimmy’s Serious Sandwiches, Old Chicago, and such could easily bridge the gap between casual service and fast food by making it easier to schedule your order for pickup.
I can’t wait to see what this does for the local food industry.