'Eat On Time' Is A Westfield App That Lets You Cut Busy Lunch Queues

Westfield Sydney has introduced a new food app that allows customers to order and pay for their lunch via their mobile phones. Instead of wasting time in the queue and faffing about with their wallets, busy CBD workers can simply rock up to the front of the line and collect their pre-prepared meal. There is a slight catch, however.

Photo: Din Tai Fung

Eat on Time was originally developed for Westfield shopping centers in the US but is now available for Sydneysiders too. As its name suggests, the app is designed to eliminate the drudgery of waiting in line at Westfield Sydney's sprawling food court -- handy if you're on a short lunch break.

The app's ordering system allows users to pre-order and pay for their food purchases from 16 participating outlets including Din Tai Fung, Charlie & Co Burgers, Chat Thai, Snag Stand and Dergah Grill. Once the food is ready, customers receive a notification and can immediately collect their order via a separate "VIP" queue.

“Eat on Time offers a diverse range of cuisine from premium food retailers and a technology solution for shoppers that allows for a quick, easy and convenient food experience," explained Westfield's director of marketing, John Batistich. "This is another step towards better connecting shoppers with our malls and retailers, across any digital device at any time."

Eat on Time requires the user to register their name, email address and credit card details, which are securely stored within the app. As with any service supplied by the retail industry, it pays to check the terms and conditions before signing up.

A perusal of Westfield's privacy policy reveals the usual caveats: upon signing up, Eat on Time customers consent to having their personal information collected and agree to receive advertising material about "upcoming events, activities and promotions, both in centre and as part of Scentre’s other activities, and sponsor and retailer promotions". This is nothing out of the ordinary, but worth noting if you're paranoid about who has access to your personal data.

We're also not sure how the "VIP" queue jumping will work in practice -- unless a section of the counter is physically cordoned off, you're still going to be jammed in with all the other customers. Are you expected to just elbow your way to the front of the line without explanation? Or what? We've contacted Westfield's PR bods and will update the story with their response.

[Update: According to Westfield, participating restaurants all have "Eat on Time collection points" where the shopper would normally pick up their meal. This doesn't really explain whether the space is kept clear of other customers, however. If any Westfield Sydney shoppers can shed light on how the process works, let us know in the comments section below.]

The app can be downloaded via the Apple App Store or Westfield's website.


Comments

    Geez. I know some people have half hour lunch breaks but how many other people are that rushed. If you are that time-starved, make a sandwich the night before and take it to work.

      I'm not sure that it's just about being time-starved... maybe more about standing in line not being an effective use of time?

        Effective use of time? You're waiting to get food, it's not like every second of your lunch break is required to be productive and "effective".

          Maybe not, but I sure as hell would rather spend my lunch sitting down relaxing, eating, and browsing my news feed than standing in line like a mook next to the unwashed masses.

            I chuckled at 'Unwashed Masses', I think it made my evening :)

      I think you will find it is more than 'some' who have half hour lunches.

      It's about want vs need. They need to eat, they want to eat the food from this restaurant (and not a sandwich), but they need to minimise the amount of time it takes them to do that. Even if they don't HAVE to be back at work for an hour, they may have other things they want to do in their lunch break that don't involve standing in a queue for x amount of time. Plus, it's never a bad thing to give people another option that they can then choose whether or not to use.

    At the risk of being provocative, we already have a system for that. Not just Westfield of course, no app and no download: www.buzzooki.com.

    Having said that, saving time on the queue is only part of the story. The real point is to try to make the restaurant more profitable. Getting the customer to pick up their own food saves time and possibly an extra head at lunchtime, and for a lot of restaurants that makes a big difference.

    Also, capturing customer details means that they can tell their customers about specials and events and so on.

    I don't see how queues would be a problem. They just chuck your food on the counter and you get a message. Much like now when they chuck your food on the counter and call "number 28!"

    Number 28 doesn't have to queue again!

      It's not so much that there's a queue to pick up food as the probability that you might be off getting a coffee (or a beer) while the restaurant is shouting out 'number 28' at the counter.

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