For Our Valued Restaurant Partners: Designing Fooda for Restaurants
Product Designer, Fooda
Fooda is on a mission to connect people with great food at work. Our network of 2,000+ restaurant partners is fundamental to that goal. In the past, we’ve designed and developed our own internal POS system, but the POS primarily functions as tool to help restaurants execute events. We hoped to provide our restaurant partners with a tool to access a more comprehensive set of information to help them “do Fooda better” (whatever that means).
For the past couple of months, our design, product, data, and engineering teams have been building an entirely new platform for our restaurant partners. Working on a greenfields-type project is always filled with joys and challenges, and there are certainly more to come… but here’s a peek into what we’ve learned so far in designing Fooda for Restaurants.
There were a few directions we could go with Fooda for Restaurants, but to make sure we were building the right product, we needed to identify our restaurant partners’ core needs and prioritize them to ensure that we were building something that would immediately add value.
When our team first started thinking about what exactly we wanted to research, we had a hunch. Fooda has accumulated a lot of data about events and how they perform, and it wouldn’t be crazy to assume that restaurants would find some of it useful (we certainly do).
A bit of background first — while walking up to a popup and ordering a meal is probably just a few minutes of a customer’s day, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes to facilitate this seemingly simple interaction. Where is that Popup event happening? Which restaurant is serving that day? Which menu items and how much food should they bring?
With every transaction, Fooda is learning more about customer preferences at each location. Thanks to our awesome data science team, we’re becoming increasingly better at forecasting customer demands at events, and making sure that not only is a restaurant the right restaurant to send, but that there is an optimal amount of food.
So, that’s great… but out of all these different pieces, what did our restaurant partners care to know, and how would we communicate it in a digestible way?
Of course, nobody knows our restaurant partners’ needs better than our restaurant partners themselves. With the goal to learn more about the restaurants that operate Fooda’s Popup events, we set out on a few different research efforts including surveys and interview sessions. Our product team felt that doing more exploratory research was vital because our target users operate in a very different context compared to ourselves — even if we understood how our restaurant partners worked from conversations with Fooda account managers, we wanted to beef up our localized knowledge.
Speaking with restaurant owners and managers (especially while sitting in their restaurants) highlighted just how many directions they’re pulled in daily. It gave us context into their day to day, and we learned that whatever we put on Fooda for Restaurants had to be useful. And to be useful, data had to be quick to understand and actionable.
Almost all of our restaurant interviewees were manually collecting data about their events to optimize for upcoming events (e.g.,”How do I get there?”, “How much food should I bring?” — this is the actionable part!) and to create “profiles” of various locations they’ve been to. This was an ah-ha moment, as this data is something that Fooda already comprehensively collects and uses to inform things like our scheduling system and prep forecasts.
By digging into what information our restaurant partners were collecting and how they used it to inform preparations for upcoming Popup events, we were able to lighten the load on their shoulders, and surface relevant event information in an upcoming Popup event view. Now, when a restaurant has an upcoming event, they will be able to see relevant event details like Site Directions, Meal Prep, and historical performance of that location all in one place. And, because we know our restaurant partners are frequently on the go, we decided to build Fooda for Restaurant as a responsive web application — it can be accessed on any device with a web browser, from anywhere in the world.
Our restaurant managers and owners are business-savvy. They know that it takes more than their delicious foods to entice potential diners to a Popup event. Outside factors like the weather and company-paid subsidies all make an impact on the number of potential customers. And, bringing enough food to ensure that every customer who wants a meal can buy one matters too, when we’re talking about sales maximization. Through our conversations, we realized that our restaurant partners were tracking this data closely. Funny thing — we were too. By surfacing outside factors we were considering in our meal forecasting models, we would provide more transparency to restaurants, and minimize the time they had to spend tracking manually.
We also found that restaurants regularly tracked and referenced their historical performance at any given location to get more context around prepping for upcoming events. To take this load off restaurants, we’re including previous sales data from that location. No more digging around spreadsheets or into records in the POS — the data will be available at a glance.
Through concept testing an upcoming events view like the one above, we were able to validate that the features we were incorporating in Fooda for Restaurants would be a “huge step forward.”
Though we’re really happy with the direction that Fooda for Restaurants is moving, this is just the beginning. We’ve already got a lot more ideas on the roadmap. Along the way, we’ll continue to solicit feedback from our restaurant partners and continuously create and iterate. Our restaurant partners mean a lot to us, so we want to help them do Fooda better, every step of the way.
This post was written by Jeanette Wu, a Product Designer at Fooda.