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Universities flock to new mobile ordering experience

Universities around the country are using a new mobile application to help their students order more easily from nearby cafeterias, cafes and restaurants.

The Tapingo app lets students place an order on-the-go and pick it up quickly without having to wait in line. The app even learns from students’ purchases to suggest frequent orders and make the process that much easier.

“We decided to adopt Tapingo at Arizona because of its ability to improve our speed of service and customer experience,” said Jason Rex Tolliver, director of Arizona Student Unions at University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. “With a student population just under 40K students, we often have lines at many of our venues and we constantly work to decrease the wait time. Tapingo allowed us to do just that.

“With Tapingo in place, we have seen an increase in our overall sales,” he said. “I have to admit that this was not our intent when we decided to implement.

“We simply wanted to better serve our students in respect to wait times. We have discovered that students who wouldn’t wait in line will use their mobile device to place an order. Overall it’s been a win-win for us.”

Mobile ordering
Tapingo has just announced that it raised $10.5 million in Series B funding, and it is already live at 25 universities in the United States, including University of Arizona, New York University, University of Southern California, Louisiana State University and Case Western University.

According to Tapingo, within months of launching the app, campuses have seen up to 40 percent of all transactions being made through the Tapingo system on any given day.

Additionally, around 50 percent of the undergraduate population is making purchases on Tapingo every week, ordering between four to five times per week. The average Tapingo user ordered 100 times in the last academic year.

The app is available for free in Apple’s App Store, Google Play and Facebook’s App Center.

Consumer focus
For now, Tapingo is focusing on serving college campuses, but the company plans to expand beyond the campus eventually. Mr. Almog imagines first letting students who used Tapingo during college continue to do so after they graduate.

“Many come into the space to build for merchants, but from day one we’ve focused on building an app for the customer,” said Daniel Almog, CEO of Tapingo, San Francisco. “It’s led to incredible adoption.

“The students are getting a better experience, and as a result they’re choosing to eat on campus, so it’s driving more traffic and orders to those restaurants.”

College students are great consumers to target for these kinds of apps since they are typically willing to try new technology, and they are always looking to be more efficient. If a student has seven minutes between classes, he can place an order for a cup of coffee during the first class, run to the café and have it ready when he gets there.

“Students love Tapingo as they can now order ahead and pick up their order when it is convenient to them and without having to wait in a line,” said Kris Klinger, USC Hospitality, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. “Our coffee units are where we see the heaviest usage.

“[There are] two benefits I have observed: Improved customer and unit flow and unit efficiency — we have reallocated staff from order taking/cashier to increase production capabilities,” he said. “This has improved efficiency and customer flow, not only for Tapingo customers but for all customers.

“[The second benefit is] increased customer ordering experience and check average. Tapingo up sells for you, and there is no need to rush through your order, having to worry about the line behind you. You can order what you want, go through the menus you need and end up with what you really wanted.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York