Food Kakis app plans shelved after slow take-off

13 Aug 2019

By Yuki Ling

Regular user of the Food Kakis delivery platform, Tu Weile (right), who delivers food almost daily, uses the Telegram channel primarily as the mobile app has low demand for food delivery. PHOTO: JOEL CHAN

When the founders of NTU Food Kakis saw how well their food delivery platform was performing on Telegram last year, they decided to create a mobile phone application to better collate food requests and offers.

But a year on, developments on the app have been stopped because of low uptake.

There are just some 500 users who have downloaded it, while the Telegram channel has over 4,000 subscribers.

The co-founder, Mr Tan Jun Xiang, 27, said: “From August to September last year, we actually scaled to about 500 to 600 users on the app but it just didn’t sustain.

“Some users will just use it once or twice before dropping off.”

Mr Tan, previously a student from the School of Computer Science and Engineering, believes that the low numbers on the app are due to users already using telegram on a daily basis.

“So whenever there is a new post, the Telegram channel will be pushed on top of their personal messages, which will remind them to use it,” he said.

As a regular user of the telegram channel, second-year School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences student Tu Weile, 22, saw no incentive in moving to the app as users can already request and offer to buy food through the channel.

Tu, who offers food delivery services almost everyday, said: “One good thing about telegram is how it is very integrated with the messaging service. You don’t need to download anything extra.

“I tried using the app once but there was no demand.”

Lincoln Ng, a first-year student from the Nanyang Business School, also suggested that people are resistant to changing to the app version of Food Kakis.

“People are comfortable with the telegram and it is serving them well,” said the 22-year-old who regularly offers food delivery through the channel.

Co-founder Mr Tan, said the app had aimed to go beyond the telegram channel by including a filter function that allowed users to see food offers by food types and delivery timings.

“On the telegram channel, the user is only able to see the latest posts. If you post 10 minutes ago and there are five posts, people don’t get to see your post anymore,” he explained.

Promotion efforts in vain

One way the team sought to promote the app was by working with food vendors such as those working in NTU’s canteens. For example, people who showed the app logo to the Canteen 2 Korean store vendor could get 50 cents off each order.

The team also did a whole month of free delivery for users who requested food through the app.

However, promotion efforts for the app did not increase student awareness about it.

In fact, first-year Nanyang Business School student, Valerie Chang, was surprised to hear that there was even an app.

Chang, who started using the telegram channel to request food since 2018, said: “I don’t pay attention to the telegram channel other than when I want to make a request.

“More publicity for the app and its new developments should be done to promote it to other telegram groups or channels with more people.”

Co-founder Mr Tan also believes that the team could have focused more on how they could get people to switch over from the telegram service to the app by promoting the functions and features of the app itself.

Shifting focus back to telegram

Plans to work on the app are now on hold as the Food Kakis team focuses on other features that users might find useful on the telegram channel.

One new feature launched last semester was a group chat which allows those who request for food to join a group chat with the food deliverer.

Mr Tan received positive feedback from deliverers who said it was easier to consolidate orders when they are delivering to ten or more people.

As someone who frequently receives orders from 30 to 40 people each time, Tu thinks the delivery service is more convenient with the group chat (check) as he can mass-send information, such as his last location.

“People who ordered from us before can also stay in the group to order through it, rather than constantly message us,” he added.

The group chat feature was taken down after the founders detected a bug with the software code but the team intends to bring it back.

Plans are also ongoing to create a payment system where users can pay through the telegram channel to speed up the delivery process.

But that’s still going to take several months, said Mr Tan.