Friday, January 29, 2010

Refer a friend: GetQuik's referral system

I've been with GetQuik for 6 months now and I *just* discovered our customer referral system >.<


This has nothing to do with the Facebook that I do not surf at work.


Apart from the fact that it is barely noticeable, the referral system actually rocks! It tracks referees by their email address rather than cookies, effective against friends who avoid referral links or take forever to sign up. You will continue to own your friends as long as they register with the email address you sent your referral to.


If you like our service, you need to tell your friend what you think of our free service! Neither us nor our restaurants charge more than the original menu price. Yet, we are able to offer centralized billing, dedicated customer support, detailed order breakdown and organization. Oh, and not forgetting the rewards, which effectively make us cheaper than the restaurant :D


For our "reintroductory" referral offer, we will be crediting you bonus points equal to the size of your referee's orders, for a period of 6 months. For example, if you got your friend bill.gates@ms.com onto our network and he earns 1,000,000,000 points in his first 6 months with us, you get 1,000,000,000 bonus points too. Don't procrastinate any longer and start referring your friends to GetQuik now. Thanx!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Drive Towards Elite Status


As of today, I have written a grand total of 3 Yelp reviews. I have long admired the Yelp business model and am happy their business is thriving.
At GetQuik, we eat out for lunch pretty much everyday - comes with the territory. We also get to interact with restaurant owners and operators on a regular basis.

To date, I have refrained from reviewing on Yelp in order to stay fair and balanced toward the restaurant operators we deal with. That being said, I am also a consumer. At the point of our business, I believe it is time to break the silence and give kudos to the restaurants that are deserving of phrase.

That is not to say that I will be reviewing every place we visit, but rather making an effort to get more active in the Yelp community. I am not sure how many reviews it takes to make elite status, but I'll be working at chipping away at that milestone.

See you on Yelp.


- K

Seriously, Get Webified

We have completed a test run of the "Get Webified" program. As we suspected, restaurants can greatly benefit by owning a website. With the GetQuik "Get Webified" program, you can get a professional web-site without a lot of cost and with 0 time and effort.

Check out the details for the "Get Webified" program here.


Besides a professional website, we will work to get your restaurant noticed. We will optimize your website for Google, Yahoo!, and Yelp.

Sorry: This offer is limited to GetQuik merchants only.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

We Need Your Yelp!

Hello GetQuikers,

Our Yelp! reviews are barren. We would like to get your feedback on what you think about GetQuik. Please be brutally honest.

We would like to put in on the line and present our story in the most public of reviews venues, which of course is Yelp!

Here is our Yelp! page. Please leave us your thoughts. Need some motivation? Sure, we will provide each reviewer 50 GetQuik rewards points if you Yelp! us.
How to claim? Send support@getquik.com an email with the title - "I Yelped you out." We'll add 50 points to your account.

Thank you,
GQ

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Apple Tablet And Mobile-Commerce

Mobile computing is officially exploding. We are rapidly moving towards an inflection point where smart phones will outnumber traditional handsets, and data plans will be the rule rather than the exception. Mobile-commerce has not yet taken off, but that will change soon. Novel approaches to the problem (see Square) and cool UI and app design, (i.e. Pizza Hut's iPhone App) are steps in the right direction.

As iPhone and Android app developers know, the challenges to develop an intuitive app are significantly more difficult than for the web. For the web experience, capturing customer input information is not an issue. Gathering customer information, address information, and credit card information is straight-forward on the web. Try asking an iPhone user to fill out this info, and watch your session abandonment rate go to 99.5% or so (note: this number is solely a guestimation). Until it is easier to collect such user input, developers will have to come up with innovative ways to simplify these processes.



Now that the iSlate is soon to be released, this tablet may provides a preview of the potential of mobile-commerce. Expect the UI challenges and input issues with mobile devices to be signficantly lower for the new tablet. Yet, we will get the constant connectively and mobility that we desire. The tablets will surely be location-aware as well. The iSlate can provide the best of web e-commerce with the mobility and location-aware benefits of a smart phone. It will be nice if the Tablet had a simple way to swipe a credit card, removing this annoying data-entry process altogether, but that is probably not likely on rev 1.



Those of us working on mobile-commerce processes are excited to see what features the Apple tablet will include. As well, we will be tracking the user adoption and development SDK's for 3rd party developers.

And The Tablet Revolution Will Be Lead By...

...Women.

As much as an always connected device that has easy access to apps, books, and news appeals to me, I don't expect to be onboard the first wave of these devices.

Why? My pockets are too small. I am not talking about dough, ray, mi, though that is certainly one reason I will be watching from the sidelines. I am literally talking about the size limitations that Levi's jeans have.

I need to have serious processing power for Photoshop, Excel, etc. Giving up my laptop is not an option. The Apple tablet doesn't appear to be targeted as a laptop replacement anyways. I don't carry around notebooks and organizers other than my iPhone. Yes it will be super light and slim and all that, but on the go, the iPhone serves as a viable temporary computing device until I can reach the office or home and get on the laptop.

Here's a purchase decision flow chart I envision for an iSlate customer:

  1. Do you take a purse, backpack or briefcase with you the majority of the time? If yes, then...

  2. Are you willing to add another $30-$40 charge to your AT&T phone bill? If yes, then...

  3. Are you willing to pay $799-$999 for a cool, big-ass iPhone-ish device? If yes, then...

Take out your credit card, and enjoy!

My answers to the above questions are 1) No, 2) Would consider, 3) Probably Not.

The fact that my first answer is "no", kind of leaves me out of the mix here. Will students (backpacks) want to say yes to question 3? Depends on how big their trust-fund, or how long they want to finance their student loan.

Although there are a lot of road-warriors who can answer yes to all three questions, the number of road-warriors pales in comparison to the population of the fairer sex.

PURSES!!! The killer iSlate companion. The answer to question 1 will almost always be yes for an American woman. So the decision to buy/not buy comes down to economics. That is a battle that Apple often wins.

Will we see an explosion of man-purses to accomodate these new tablets? Probably not.

Time to put it on the line. My crystal ball is guessing that 60-65% of the iSlates will be toted by females.

Will the Apple Tablet Matter?

Thanks to Steve and friends, mobile computing is exploding. The iPhone, as was the case of the iPod for digital music, has served as the catalyst for the long anticipated mobile revolution.

Now that everyone and their sister has a smart phone with the corresponding unlimited data plans, do we really need a tablet computer? We have seen strong growth in Netbook sales for those needing a more robust mobile computing vehicle. So will the iSlate be more iPhone or AppleTV?

First let's consider the limitations of the delightful, yet limited iPhone:
  • Screen size: This is inherently a problem for any mobile phone device. For serious UI intense computing, the 320*240 pixel screen lacks the size and screen real-estate that our laptops and desktop alternatives provide.

  • Multi-tasking: Due to the screen and processing limitations of the iPhone, multi-tasking does not work well on these devices. If you are looking to request driving directions, while reading email, and searching Yelp! for reviews... ummm, let's just say - "good luck."

  • Input limitations: Although the on-screen keyboard of the iPhone is sufficient for short text messages, don't expect Steven King to draft his 482'd book on one of these. Any iPhone user knows that typing on the iPhone is a limitation to be tolerated, rather than enjoyed.

Other challenges such as limited storage and heavy processor based applications computing is also missing, but those type of functions are not mission-criticfal for the mobile computing experience.

The Netbook presents a more side-by-side challenger to the yet to be announced Apple tablet. The Netbook is designed to solve the above problems of mobile phones, while serving as a mobile optimized experience against a traditional laptop.

A Netbook is superior to a laptop for mobile computing in the following areas:

  • Bootup Time: As RIM corporation knows, the killer app for mobile computing is email. Anyone who has lugged a laptop to Starbucks knows that waiting for the *&%#ing computer to book up is really, really annoying. Netbooks offer a painfree? or at least less painful, bootup process.

  • Size: Ok, this one is obvious, but clearly this is one the main selling points of the Netbook.

  • Connectivity: This is the key. The fact that you need to buy a data plan (similar to Android and iPhone data plans) with your netbook means that anywhere your Netbook is, you are connected to the Internet, unless of course your carrier rhymes with "Blay See and Flee." - but that's another story.

So if the Netbook solves all the size and computing power problems of a mobile device, and the size, connectivity and performance issues of a laptop, does the iSlate matter?

The answer begins with "Steve" and ends with "Jobs". The reason the iSlate is destined to be a hit is the Kindle-effect. The Kindle proves there is a robust market for a digital reading and electronic book device. Amazon being Amazon, they have done an excellent job in providing easy access to a universe of digital books, magazines and news. The Kindle aspires to be the iPod for electronic books and news. Queue the "Darth Vader" theme music. Then along came Apple. Apple knows this game. Apple is going to rapidly onboard book publishers to further enhance their iTunes marketplace. Unlike the one-trick Kindle, the iSlate will incorporate books, music, videos, movies, apps and more. Will customers be satisified with an elegant digital book reader when they can cough up the Apple premium in order to get Internet connectivity and all the other goodies that Apple will be providing?

Expect Apple to take a leadership role in this lightweight, mobile, large-screen device category. Although the Netbook provides a similar hardware device experience, Netbooks lack the marketplace and digital store connection that Apple and Amazon provide. This movie is playing out a lot like the iPod/iTunes/MP3 game.

The G factor. Google are you listening? The one company that seems to have the best chance to disrupt the Apple machine is Google. Android is playing catch-up to the iPhone, but Google has setup the proper ecosystem to make the challenge a serious one. By addressing not only the mobile OS issue, but also the corresponding value-add Android apps development and distribution markets, Google has rallied a serious group of phone manufacturers and mobile app developers to take on its Cupertino competitor. Google needs to step up again to take on iTunes. The problem for Google is that content providers are already unhappy with Google's book scanning projects and YouTube. Can Google work out an ad-revenue share business model to win premium content? There doesn't seem to be evidence to support this.

Netflix? The dark-horse in the race is Netflix. Netflix has quietly setup a solid infrastructure and business development deals to better take on iTunes. Expect Apple to exert their considerable marketing and brand equity to drive a hard bargain for premium content providers. Expect a few hold-outs from large book, magazine, media, and news publishers who are unwilling to be pushed around by Apple. These publishers may seek out Netflix to provide an alternative marketplace to distribute their content. The hope is that unlike in music, where Apple is the only show in town, that another content marketplace providers (Amazon, Netflix) will emerge to keep Apple in check.

Yes, the Apple Tablet matters.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Is America Eating Healthier?

Americans are eager to try out the latest diet fads that will help them "lose weight fast!" Examples include: Atkins diet, South Beach Diet, and Dexitrim (which was basically speed retrofitted as a diet aid).

However, research and common sense seem to point to a healthier approach towards getting slim.
  • Step 1: Eat smaller portions,
  • Step 2: Eat healthier food (less sugary and low-density cholesterol foods), and
  • Step 3: Exercise.
Yes, as those working on their New Year's Resolutions know, the above steps are not as pain-free as jumping on the next "miracle weight-loss" solution. Yet there are some recent trends that show some glimmers of hope that Americans may be embracing the healthy diet recommendations. The following examples are more anecdotal rather than quantitative, so readers can further study if these examples are more exceptions, or truly representative of a sea-change in behavior.

1) "Super-Size Me" by Morgan Spurlock

Sensation account of the impact of a Big Mac diet. The imagery from this documentary leads McDonald's to withdraw their "Super Size" option. Surprisingly, no one seems to care when this popular option disappears.

2) "Jared" by Subway

Around 2000, Subway introduced Jared to the world. Based on his amazing weight loss story (425 pounds to 240 pounds), Subway is able to take market share from its burger fast-food competitors.

3) Whole Foods by Whole Foods

The sales growth of Whole Foods represents the growing popularity of the "local, organic" movement. Popularized by star chefs such as Alice Waters, the local, organic movement encourages people to use foods that are non-processed, locally and organically grown to promote healthier living. The movement claims that eating organic, local, and whole foods helps to reduce pesticide intake, while providing the full-nutritional value of the food products (often lost in food processing steps).

4) Trans Fat Ban by Tiberon

New York City and California have banned the use of trans-fat. As a result, snack food companies and restaurants who operated in those areas have had to re-engineer the way they cook and bake some of their products. Trans-fat has been linked to heart disease. Despite the switch from trans-fat, consumers have not noticed much difference.

5) Restaurant Nutritional Labeling by New York City (Is this working?)

Now that New York City and California are requiring restaurants to label the calorie, nutritional and ingredients of their products, research is being conducted to see if the desired result is happening. The answer is unclear at this point. A Stanford University study of Starbucks purchases show that Starbucks customers are cutting back on the snacks, but not on the high-calorie java drinks. As additional research is conducted on menu labeling, the results will most likely determine if restaurant labeling will be introduced in other cities, states or nationally.

6) Coca-Cola Taxes and Petite Size by New York City

Coca-Cola is under siege. The sugary beverage provider is in danger of being cast as the new villain in America's battle for better public health. Coke is introducing a smaller can - a 7.5 oz, 90 calorie option. Whether Americans will embrace this smaller size can is unclear. Also, if the sugary beverage tax is passed, will consumers opt for healthier choices?


Summary:
The combination of research, marketing, and regulatory efforts are being mobilized to battle the chronic childhood obesity and resulting health issues (diabeties in particular). The impact of this battle is challenging for restaurants. Customers are still wanting a great value (good size portion), that taste good (sugar, salt, and fat), while also requiring a low calorie, healthy meal. How can a restaurant deliver on these requirements?

Restaurants can use healthy ingredients, cut down on some of the less healthy cooking methods (less salt, oil and sugar). The economics of switching to healthier ingredients may be a problem as healthier ingredients can be very expensive. Managing portion sizes against customer expectations will be equally challenging.

The more progressive restaurants will be in the forefront of experimentation with addressing the health concerns while still being able to retain their loyal customers. As is normal in the restaurant industry, the ever-changing American consumer, coupled with the new health-oriented legislation will provide some new challenges to restaurant operators. These challenges are universal. Out of this additional work and new consumer tastes, there will be opportunities for restaurant operators who come up with the right formula.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The "Real" Irina is Back

Irina must have been suffering from sleep-deprivation and her dietary restrictions. She has taken a while to return to form. Good news! She is back and recaffeinated.

Driving to Chef Xiu's for lunch today (our first time), we are driving down Castro Street, where we thought the restaurant was located. Nope. So consulting Yuanlin's Droid, and we find that we need to go down to El Camino Real to reach the restaurant.

Yuanlin, "Go up ahead, it's off of El Camino Real."

Irina, "El Camino Real? I thought the restaurant was in Mountain View?"

Me, "El Camino is a street, not a city. Umm - How long have you lived in San Jose?"

Irina, "8 years."

'nuff said.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Clean Up Time

We have introduced a flurry of new features recently. We also made a mess during our launch storm. We are due for some clean up to get the quirks and bugs fixed.

Qishan has noticed a drop off in speed, so one of the key tasks will be to optimize the code. There are a bunch of new features on deck. We hope to have the bugs and speed issue addressed shortly so we can again focus on introducing these new features to the GetQuik site. Bad Dog!

Foursquare Review

Simple, Intestering, Impressive.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

QuikAdd At Last!

We have some customer request an easier way to add multiple items to an order. We are happy to introduce the "QuikAdd" feature which addresses this request.

When you are looking at a menu, you will see an option button to "Enable QuikAdd". If you choose that feature, you will see the page transform into a order form view. From the order form, you can select your desired items and then add them to your order with a singular button click.

If the product you are adding has any required options, the system will query you to select your desired options after you QuikAdd your items.

We are constantly looking for ways to improve the user experience, and the majority of our features are based on customer feedback and request. Keep 'em coming! Send your thoughts and requests to support@getquik.com with the subject line - "Feature Request".

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

You Can Take My Life, But You'll Never Take My Free Soda!

What is the cost of "free sodas" for a company? What is the price of creating and maintaining a "startup culture"? Unrelated? Maybe not.

This case study has been presented by serial entrepreuner Steve Blank. Steve spends much of his time teaching entreprenuership at Stanford and U.C. Berekeley.

So the simple answer is that it costs around $10,000 annually to furnish free sodas and snacks to a team of 50 employees. However, as with humans and life, the full store is a bit more complex.

You can read Steve's case, and the corresponding comments regarding this thought-provoking question.

As a point of reference, an engineering recruiting cost is typically 20-25% of the placed employees 1st year salary. With top notch engineers earning north of $100K annually in Silicon Valley, you can do your own math.

Enjoy the read, and careful with that Coke, Eugene.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Food and Work

It’s been 2 weeks in GetQuik so far, and it has come to my realization that working here has a minimum requirement.

A consistent exercise regime.

Back in where I came from, there is an abundance of sunlight, heat, humidity and trees. You could say it’s the ideal place to carry out exercise routines. It’s a pity I never did exercise. Instead, I was stuffing myself with awesome food. Food in Singapore has an obscene amount of variety. It isn’t uncommon to head down to a random coffee shop or food court and have a Chinese meal with Indian prata as a side. Suppers with friends were even more spectacular. You could have barbecued stingray topped with sambal chilli, steamed cockles, grilled sea snails, claypot chicken, sugar cane juice and plates of satay all on the same table. That is the beauty of coffee shops. I’ll touch on this the next time.

Getting back to a consistent exercise regime, it is necessary because Ken would take us out for lunch every single day. So far we’ve covered a few of the restaurants within the GetQuik network. In fact, I haven’t had a meal at the same place other than the occasional subway sandwich. It isn’t surprising since our business is in the food network. That, however, also means that I have to start watching my weight. The servings here are obnoxiously huge. Not to mention the refills. The FREE refills.

I remember having free refills back in Singapore at one of the KFCs near where I studied. The management later removed the spectacular feature because students from my school would gather there for project meetings. They’d order a small cup and nothing else for the entire day, thus taking up space, sucking up juice and providing no business for the restaurant. By the end of the day, the small cup would have its bottom washed clean of the waterproof layer, and soda would be dripping everywhere. That’s just insane.

In any case, I doubt it’d be much of a problem for me now. After all, I do cycle to work and back on a daily basis covering a total of roughly 9 miles. That doesn’t include the random jogging sessions I have with my housemate. Currently, I’m on a $200 bet with Intern #1, Qishan, (I’m #2 by seniority) that I could lose 22 pounds by July. He seems pretty confident that he’d easily take my money. We’ll see.

Friday, January 8, 2010

FrankenSite

GetQuik has had the good fortune of having a number of graphically and UI inclined interns. As well, our rapid implementation methodology has given us the ability to introduce features quickly.

The drawback to this free-form, highly collaborative approach is that we have a mismash of various design and UI stylings. Wenhan, Manu and Peter in particular were prolific in their front-end contributions.

With Yuan Lin, we will be looking at coming up with a more consistence design and UI approach, but in the meantime, enjoy the ride.

The Smarter GetQuik Order Check - Alpha

We have launched our alpha version of the new GetQuik order check.

Some of the key features include:
  • Following effect - the order check will reposition as you scroll a menu in order that you can easily keep track of your current order.
  • Quantity updates - now rather than requiring you to go to the edit page, you can update your order quantities from the order check.
  • Item Detail - you can collapse or expand to view the custom options you have select for a menu item.
We'll be cleaning up this feature to improve the look and feel, and remove some of the bugs.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Drawing Turkeys

New intern from Singapore reporting in for blogging duty.

I'm being given lots of freedom on writing on the company blog, nad now I don't really know where to start. Let's begin by explaining my current job scope.

For now, I'll be in charge of designs for the company. If you've paid attention to the recent GetQuik logo on the invoices, you would've noticed a New Year's theme to it. That's pretty much my job scope right now. It's fun trying to add some flavor to the usual orange-blue default, but it could get frustrating sometimes when inspiration just refuses to hit. Or when ideas don't materialize the way I want it.

My next task is to design logos for all the festivals in the US, and I have to rely heavily on my stereotypical view of the local festivity. Halloween (pumpkins and bats?) is done for now and I'm currently working on Thanksgiving (turkeys and pies?). Drawing vector designs with a notebook touch pad is a real pain. I doubt it'd be any simpler with a mouse though. That's a great excuse to save up for a Wacom tablet. So for now I'll be using my touch pad.


For drawing turkeys.