Tapingo increases in popularity, employees struggle to keep up
Creating a challenge for the Common Grounds employees, customers place orders in store as well as on Tapingo. | Emily Arnold/THE CHIMES
First introduced only last semester, mobile food-ordering system Tapingo has jumped in popularity this year at on-campus dining facilities. However, it appears it still has to compete with the old-fashioned way of ordering.
Although Steve Rall, Bon Appétit Management Company Biola general manager, believes that Tapingo is off to a good start, he says transactions that use it still account for only five percent of the total number of dining transactions.
The program began as a means to tap into new technology that allows students to cut down time waiting in line and instead order food and drinks from their smartphones, according to Rall.
“It seems to me to be a natural [thing],” he said. “Biola really tries to work on solutions each year to reduce lines, [asking] ‘What can we do to reduce lines on campus?’”
New semester brings new incentives to use Tapingo
Rall observed Tapingo in use at Santa Clara University in February of 2011 and decided to put it to the test at Biola. Because it was released near the end of the semester, when most students have already blown through all of their flex dollars, Rall credited the timing of Tapingo’s release for the slow start. However, this year Bon Appétit approached it differently.
At the beginning of this semester, five days of half-off deals were offered to Tapingo users in both the Talon and Common Grounds to stimulate student interest.
“That proved to work,” Rall said.
But the increased interest in Tapingo has caused headaches for employees who now must juggle a rash of mobile orders in addition to the long line of customers waiting at the register.
Commons too small to run both to-go and order-at
“Tapingo is a great concept, but the problem with [it] is it’s as if we are trying to run two coffee shops at once,” said senior Chris Koeppen, a Common Grounds barista. “One of them, which is a to-go coffee shop, and one of them which is an order-at coffee shop, which means we would need twice the employees to successfully run Tapingo at its highest potential.”
Koeppen has worked at Common Grounds for the past two years, and says that since the start of the program, baristas have been scrambling to make drinks for a long list of mobile orders in addition to the physical line of students and faculty — especially during busy times like after morning chapel. Koeppen said he thinks Tapingo would work well for a larger coffee shop, but that Common Grounds is too small to keep up such a high rate of orders.
Online ordering system saves time but lacks customization
Conversely, freshman liberal studies major Miranda Paul says she uses Tapingo often during breaks from class and it saves her a lot of time.
“I like being able to just pay on my phone instead of waiting at the cash register,” she said.
When asked if she has found it difficult to wait for her drink to be made behind many other Tapingo orders, Paul explained that she avoids using the program during busy times. Her one complaint about Tapingo is its inability to customize every order.
“The one negative is … if I wanted to order a sandwich and I don’t like tomatoes, they can’t put, like, no tomatoes on it,” she said. “Some of them they do have that, but not all of them.”