SmartQ: a better way to outsmart never-ending queues
The only time you get an opportunity to discuss your boss’ ridiculous tie with your colleagues is lunch time. But most of you just end up longingly looking over your shoulders from your unending lunch queue, as your colleagues have a whale of a time without you. On another note, almost half an hour gets wasted on a daily basis, which you could have either used for being productive at work or to unwind and de-stress. Three young engineers, all at different points in their corporate careers, couldn’t quite digest that.
Krishna Wage, described the ‘literally hellish’ ordeal he would go through at lunch every day, back when he was in the corporate jungle.
“I would spend an average of 40 minutes waiting in line for lunch in my company’s food court, if I went at 1:30 pm, which was rush hour as far as lunch was concerned in corporate parks. One day, I decided to probe into why it was taking that long, and what the logistical chaos was really about,” says Krishna.
The digital queue up
Most of the food chains in corporate park food courts were QSR restaurants, which meant most of the food was ready in advance, save for the chapattis. The pile-up was at the cashier’s counter due to manual dispersion of bills and payments, followed by the need to stay till one’s orders were ready to pick them up personally due to lack of automation on that end of the process, too.
Brainstorming for a year, Krishna and his co-founders, Abhishek Ashok and Sujit Lalwani scrapped seven versions of UIs and Uxs, to engineer the perfect app to act as the solution for this colossal timelapse. SmartQ automated the whole process, thus collapsing it into less than one-sixth of the duration it would originally take. SmartQ is a 2015 Tech30 company.
The app automatically detects your location, enlists all the eateries in your food court, thus you can place the order and make your payment while walking up to the cafeteria from your office, within 30 seconds.
The parallel software on the computer of the merchant gets an alert once the order is placed and two receipts are generated automatically, where one goes to the kitchen and the other stays with the servers. As soon as the kitchen receives your order, the server, matching it with his receipt, scans the bar code on it so you get a message – which is when you, who was spending quality time with your colleagues all that while, can casually saunter into the picture, collect the order, and leave.
Falling in line
"Everything happens in real time, in lightening fast speed, and with the app and the barcode feature, you need not hover around the counter while your food is prepared. And the beauty of this app is that it syncs with the existing process in the restaurant, rather than disrupting it and raising the need for training staff again,” says Krishna.
In the $4 billion market of food courts, outlets had been losing a lot of business due to lethargy in customers to endure queues. “We are on the verge of creating a revolution in the space.”
Built on a scalable cloud platform, the app can even handle traffic up to a lakh orders an hour. It has also been witnessing traffic upward of 1,000 transactions spread across two hours.
Since starting out six months ago, the app has found its way into two IT corporate parks in Bangalore and one office, as well. What was an 8,000 strong user base on Android in the first quarter, has now grown to an impressive 25,000, with close to 600–650 transactions per day and GMVs anywhere between Rs. 1–1.5 lakh per day.
“We charge the merchant per transaction, and also charge a convenience fee to the customers. Besides, our customer base is a premium audience for brands to reach out to. Hence, we have also been attracting many tie-ups for coupons as well as offers, which consumers can win by placing orders through our app.”
In fact, they are also launching their own wallet in due course, since the used case is so high.
What else is in Q
While the essence of the app is to assist the corporate population in managing their time specklessly, the nature of the app is malleable for it to be adopted by malls, multiplexes, live entertainment platforms to make their billing process smoother, as well. As for the IT parks that SmartQ is already present in, they have also become the providers of a delivery service, wherein employees can order food to be delivered at their desks.
“Wherever you find queues, we aim to replace it by our SmartQ. And because it is a win-win for both the merchant as well as the customers, we have found company’s HR departments pushing out this app to their employees in order to help them with their efficiency, and the managers of the food chains recommending it to their customers, because it solves many long-standing logistics problems for them.”
In the next 60 days, SmartQ is scheduled to launch in 15 locations – including multiplexes and malls.