USI dining services began offering a new food-ordering app Tapingo on campus Monday. The app allows customers to order food or drinks from anywhere on campus and pick it up within the designated time. The Shield sat down with Food Service General Manager Lamar Patterson to discuss the app and how it works.
The Shield: Is this a Sodexo app or is it part of a larger network?
Patterson: It’s a third party that we work with ,and they have partnerships with several schools across the nation. They have connected with Sodexo as a company, as a primary vendor, but Tapingo can be used in other places. It’s not a proprietary with Sodexo.
The Shield: How does the payment method work?
Patterson: When you download the app on your phone, you have to choose what payment method you want to use, and you load that into the system. If it’s Munch Money, you can put that on there. Everything is connected through your student ID, so there’s a security system set up for that. Once the app is on your phone, you have a PIN number to determine once you place the order to send the order through.
The Shield: How long does it take, once you place an order, for it to be ready?
Patterson: It varies. It can be as quick as a couple of minutes. It averages maybe four to six minutes, depending on the time of day and how many orders are coming in. Most of the time, when I order, my order is ready long before I’m even there. We have an interactive set-up where we call them active cashiers. When your order is ready, the cashier hits a button to tell you that its ready, and it sends it to your phone saying your order is ready before the estimated time. If you place an order and it says your order will take eight minutes because you have a lot of people in front of you or something and all of a sudden we get it done in four, the person in the venue will hit that and it will tell you that your order is now ready before the eight minutes is up. When the eight minutes is up, it’s going to notify you automatically that your order is ready. The cashier doesn’t have to hit a button or anything like that.
The Shield: Is there a fee when you order using the app?
Patterson: Yes, there will be a 39 cent fee for every order. That fee won’t start until April 1. We are just trying to get everyone up and acclimated to the new system. That is how Tapingo, as a third party, manages the system. They charge that fee and that’s a part of the whole thing.
The Shield: Is there a limit for how many orders can go into a venue at one time?
Patterson: There is a time limit. Say 100 people ordered at the same time at Starbucks, we can’t get 100 orders out at the same time. So what happens is it’s going to kick every order down from the 1st to the 100th order. So the 100th order may say it’s going to be an hour or an hour and a half because the system only allows a certain number of orders to come through in a time period. So if it’s only three orders, it’s going to be a small waiting time. If its 100 orders at one time, then it’s going to back those orders and it’s going to put them in line.