Tap2Order 1.5

Tap2Order 1.5 is here! This is a big release that we’ve been working on for a while, so we’re really excited to get it out there, and we’re looking forward to hearing from people using it.

New Features:

Retina Graphics

Tap2Order 1.5 Main Screen

Most of our staff love their retina devices, and delete with prejudice any non-retina apps from their iPad 3s, iPhone 4/5s and Retina Macbook Pros. So we’re pretty ashamed it’s taken us so long to get a retina Tap2Order iPad app out!

Given we needed to recreate the interface graphics anyway, we took the opportunity to change the look & feel to make it a bit more fun and café-like. We think it looks pretty great, but if you have any feedback we’d love for you to get in touch and let us know what you think.

New Administration Section

Tap2Order initially started life as a web-based service, but we pretty quickly shifted to the iPad once we realised what a great device it was for behind-the-counter installation. Unfortunately some of the store setup & configuration functions were still web-based; they were a bit confusing, a bit clunky to use, and the performance wasn’t great.

We’ve now rebuilt all of the web administration functionality as a full native iOS interface within the Tap2Order app – it’s simpler & easier to use, and the speed & responsiveness makes it a much more pleasant experience. The menu setup in particular is easier and more understandable, and it includes a useful new preview function to test your menu changes before saving them.

Tap2Order Menu Configuration

The old web interface is still available but we’ll be retiring it soon, so we recommend you try out the new in-app admin functionality as soon as you get the chance.

Subscription Changes

We’ve had to change the subscription mechanism from an auto-renewing subscription to a manually-renewing subscription. This means rather than iTunes renewing your subscription automatically every month, you’ll now get prompted by Tap2Order a few days before expiry, and you’ll need to renew the subscription manually. We realise this is a little bit painful, so we’ve changed the subscription duration (there are now 3 month and 12 month options) so that you don’t have to renew as often, and we’ve reduced subscription pricing so it’s not as big a hit on your iTunes account. In other words, Tap2Order is even better value than it was before!

Networking Code

This feature’s not as cool as retina graphics, but probably just as important. Many of our customers have to contend with slow or flaky internet connections, so we’ve put a lot of effort into improving the way Tap2Order handles network problems and communicates them to staff.

Other Improvements

The new interface has a significantly simplified ‘Message of the Day’ and Upsell functionality, using a blackboard metaphor that should be familiar to many staff. Messages now apply for the whole day unless manually cleared – we think this simpler UI will encourage more frequent & creative use of the feature.

As always, if there’s a feature you’d like to see in the next version, let us know on our feedback page. Our focus remains firmly on improving your customer loyalty and customer spend, and we love hearing your ideas about how to best accomplish this.

Mobile Payments

Pay wIth SquareThe number one question we get asked by people is ‘does Tap2Order support mobile payments’? We don’t support the functionality, but it’s a conscious choice – we’ll try to explain why in this post to ensure everyone understands this position.

Mobile payments are likely to be the next great frontier in the mobile computing ecosystem. Well-funded industry players like Google and Square are actively rolling out and promoting their payment infrastructure. In Australia, Commonwealth Bank’s Kaching is retrofitting iPhones to interoperate with existing payment infrastructure, and of course it’s likely that Apple will enter this market at some point. If Tap2Order implemented mobile payments we’d end up in competition with these entrants, which will probably require a large investment in manpower to stay in the race.

Separately, the traditional in-store payment options are (slowly) improving. NFC credit card payments such as PayPass/PayWave are becoming more popular in many markets, and these cut down electronic payment times significantly. In the coffee industry, store credit remains a popular option. We expect the time & convenience benefits of offering mobile payment functionality will gradually decrease as the in-store options improve.

Lastly, mobile payments are a hard problem to solve. The service needs to:

  • store the payment details (securely), preferably not running foul of PCI-DSS
  • set up & maintain internal merchant accounts
  • calculate the correct price for all possible transactions
  • perform transactions and notify the merchant (securely)
  • calculate (and on-charge) per-transaction fees
  • settle the net funds into the merchant’s account, preferably daily
  • handle disputed transactions
  • issue statements for reconciliation

These tasks, while all achievable, require significant additional engineering time and incur administrative overhead — for most similar services this is recovered by a per-transaction fee (a margin over the top of the card fee), and in our experience the coffee industry is less enthusiastic about margin-eroding transaction fees. Also, the customer needs to trust the service enough to create an account and register payment details; this is a significant barrier for most people.

In summary, offering integrated payments in Tap2Order is an expensive feature which will result in higher charges to our customers, lower user participation, pitch us against the big movers in the payment industry, and offer fairly minor convenience benefits, so we can’t justify implementing this at the moment. However, we definitely won’t rule out adding it in the future, particularly as the mobile payments industry matures and reliable/low-cost third-party services become available.