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Why I miss Square’s order app

Sadly Square decided to shut it’s Order app. Apparently the app lead to “no new sales”. Excuse me? Well, I agree that any app/service/incentive should be targeted at the margin (i.e. bring new business), but surely, how can you prove that?  Using a sample size of one (me) I guarantee I went to Blue Bottle Coffee a lot more than usual, as standing in line there is a pure pain.

So let’s break down the value proposition of the app (yes, the article from 09 is still valid although used to analyze smartphone OS at the time). The benefits are abundantly clear:  Save time in ordering and getting your [whatever], and especially in Blue Bottle Coffee’s case, save a lot(!) of time. Also, it is of course convenient to have your card linked and pay as your GPS let’s the store know you are close. Brilliant.

So what about the cost side of the value proposition? Well, it’s a free app, so really a no brainer, right? Actually, not quite so, and it becomes apparent when you look at the design of the app:

Coffee order 1

Looks easy enough right? Just click the button and off you go? Well, first, finding the store was actually really cumbersome and not shown here. It would not be hard to use location and my purchase history to present relevant options right away. In fact, as soon as I open the app it should have asked me “Going to Blue Bottle?” and the answer would have been yes every time. So the ‘Cost of time’ to find the coffee shop (and the lack of other participating merchants) was certainly an issue.  But the big problem came at the experience when you pay. From the screen above it clearly shows the coffee cost $5 right, so when you click and order that is what you expect your bill to be. Not the case however:

what happens when you scroll...

Suddenly $5 has gone to $6, because the app automatically adds a tip. You could not remove it until you scrolled down – way past the Order button. Great for the Baristas, not so great for the users who (repeatedly) found out they paid more than they had expected. In this case, as I ended up doing this quite a few times until I realized what happened, the cost side of the value prop ended up being quite high.

So the concept of ordering ahead, based on your location and skipping lines is brilliant. But the execution by Square was poor in many aspects, and I suspect that is partially why the experiment was abandoned (of course, it was surprising how few of their merchant’s participated in this, so I’m sure there are other reasons).  Either way, someone like Yelp or others should jump on this, as they would likely do it right. Until then I’ll still go to Blue Bottle though. Perhaps just slightly less, and slightly more grumpy.

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this post are mine and do not reflect the views of any clients or companies I am currently working for or have worked for.

Posted in Payments, The Business of Mobile.

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