The Big Idea: Mobile Ordering

Compass launched a mobile online ordering system to capitalize on popularity of smartphones.

Mike Barner
Senior Vice President of Field Systems
Compass Group North America, Charlotte, N.C.

We found our customers needed a faster and easier way to get their midday meals. With the popularity of smartphones growing, particularly on our corporate and college campuses, we decided to find a way to make ordering food easier and faster. We already had online ordering, but we decided going mobile was the way to go so we created the Zipthru Mobile Ordering system. 

Our IT department partnered with a third party to build the application. It was developed as a web application so it can run on any smartphone platform. Once registered, online customers can use the system from any web-enabled device at any time without having to download any applications. For the initial uses of the system we are focusing on specific Compass brands. One example we were focusing on is our BYOB burger concept. The customer is taken to an initial screen where they can choose to order from a particular concept. For the BYOB concept, they are then taken to subsequent screens that build their burger step by step, using radio buttons to make their selections. After they complete the initial order we do some upselling on any sides they may want with their burger. We also ask for a time for pick up to help us with production. The screens were designed to be as intuitive and easy to use as possible because often you only have one or two chances to satisfy customer expectations with technology like this.

When the team debuted BYOB at Quinnipiac University we provided many incentives for customers to use the system, including an opportunity to win an iTouch. We continue to promote Zipthru to customers with contests, on the location’s website or through unit marketing. We’ve also used QR codes as a way to provide a link for the system to customers.

Since launching in August more than 260 customers have registered. Almost 60% of the orders coming in from Zipthru are from repeat customers. A customer survey found that more than 90% of users are satisfied with the navigation and design. We’re seeing the greatest areas of growth in B&I, healthcare and, colleges and universities. 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources