Bringing Convenience to the Table – App8’s Restaurant Exchange Solution

App8 is an Ottawa-based company, founded in 2017, that specializes in creating frictionless payment and consumer experiences by leveraging technological advancements and data analytics. Launching into the market last year, App8 has brought their solution to 22 restaurants in the Ottawa area and roughly 4,500 individual users. Now the breakout capital city company is looking to take the next big step towards expanding their userbase. To do so, App8 have begun a CENGN cloud project to test the performance of their solution at scale.

Revolutionizing the Restaurant Service Industry

The restaurant industry is massive, employing over half a million Canadians in 2019. It’s projected that the industry will generate $35 billion in total revenue in 2019 through the over 45,000 full-service restaurants across the country (IBISWorld, April 2019).

However, this mammoth industry is not without its inefficiencies. The exchange between servers and customers has been left almost unchanged over the past 100 years, and although there will never be a replacement for the human interaction found at a restaurant, there are definite openings for technology to enhance the restaurant process.

Bringing Convenience to the Table - App8’s Restaurant Exchange Solution

For example, when a customer arrives at the restaurant, they sit down and have to wait for the table’s server to notice them. After their meal, customers must then also wait for a staff member to come by, then for them to return with the bill and machine. These times can become really lengthy depending on how popular a restaurant is and how many staff they have on hand.

Not only are these wait times seen as a nuisance to customers, but they also have a major effect on the business. There is a direct correlation on the overall time it takes for a table to go from seated to paid up and cleared and the amount of revenue a restaurant can earn in a day. With meal rushes, restaurants rely on a few hours in the lunch and dinner window to make the majority of their sales. Wait times reduce how many groups of customers restaurants can service, which means less orders are coming through, and less revenue for the restaurant. According to App8, if a restaurant can turn one additional table per peak period it could see over $40k additional revenue per year. The growing company seeks to streamline the process in a way that improves the customer experience, so customers are happier and restaurants can increase their business.

Disrupting the Server-Customer Relationship

App8 has introduced a mobile application that is used by both customers and restaurants to enhance the traditional way servers interact with customers. It reduces wait time, through both its check-in feature alerting servers when a customer gets to the table, as well as a mobile payment feature that allows the customer to pay immediately when finished eating rather than waiting for the bill. Through an individual tracking number linked to the customers App8 account, their specific bill will be sent right to their phone by the server before their meal is complete. This way, the customer can pay for their meal without waiting for the server to first bring the bill and then the machine.

The mobile application is also designed to build the loyalty of customers. Beyond the obvious convenience of being compatible with App8, the solution also allows for custom memberships and reward programs to be offered and managed through the app. Not only this, but App8 will also give restaurants metrics and analytics about their App8 using clients to help these businesses run more effective target marketing campaigns.

Restaurants using App8 pay a monthly subscription to receive training for their restaurant staff on how to use the intuitive software, as well as the ability to promote the restaurant to the App8 userbase. App8 provides 24/7 support and even integrates directly with restaurant systems, so there is no need for additional hardware or complicated setup.

Preparing for Commercial Growth

Bringing Convenience to the Table - App8’s Restaurant Exchange Solution

App8 is looking towards a growth trajectory, aiming to be adopted by thousands of restaurants.  Having users increase in critical mass is the end goal of any application-based business, however with this increase comes a requirement for scaling company resources. A growth in users at this size will result in millions of new transactions, meaning App8 needs to begin testing their application at scale.  For this reason, the company has begun their CENGN project.

Developing a CENGN Project Space

App8 will be leveraging both CENGN’s infrastructure services and its technical expertise during their cloud project. The project will see an environment created on the CENGN testbed to monitor the performance of App8 as simulated users are incrementally increased up to 100,000 restaurants and 100,000,000 transactions, with a concurrency rate between 5% and 10%. App8 will be measuring scalability, the service’s upper limits and thresholds, as well as server resource requirements throughout the project.

To do this, App8’s project space is made up of a cloud tenancy with 11 virtual machines (VMs) and a bare metal server. The App8 platform is hosted on four VMs, while the rest of the VMs will be simulating user actions and monitoring.

Bringing Convenience to the Table - App8’s Restaurant Exchange Solution

The project space is also set up with multiple isolated network connections, so App8 can get a low-level view of the traffic flows between different components of their solution, such as transaction, payment, and user functions. By having dedicated traffic flows for each component, App8 can monitor how each component of their solution handles the incremental scaling of users. This will allow the company to identify the weak links or bottlenecks in the application that need to be worked on.

Here at CENGN, we are happy to provide App8 with a cost-effective alternative to using other public cloud providers for testing their application’s scalability.  We’re also happy to lend our industry leading virtualization and cloud expertise to provide advisory support throughout the project and help identify areas of App8 that could be strengthened.

Upon successful completion of this CENGN project, App8 has indicated that they will have the confidence to launch their solution in Toronto, as well as outside of the province and eventually to other countries. We’re looking forward to being one of the steps in App8’s pathway to growth and international success.

App8 is a growing Canadian business that is using the services at CENGN through the Next Generation Network Program (NGNP). The NGNP is a Government of Ontario program offered through a partnership between CENGN and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) that is providing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Ontario access to the CENGN Testbed. CENGN’s digital infrastructure is connecting SMEs like App8 to state-of-the-art equipment and network services, which will allow these companies to test and validate their solutions.

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About the Author

CENGN, Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks, drives technology innovation and industry growth through our testbed, technical expertise, talent development, and partner ecosystem. Through our projects, CENGN enables small and medium Canadian Enterprises to test and validate promising technologies, removing barriers to product commercialization and accelerating market growth.

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