What links an actress and model, a canal boat, cocktails, and a new technology? Don’t know? Here’s a clue. How could you boost your sales profits by 10% and save nearly 2 hours per week on your book-keeping? Ok, final clue. Go to the app store and download Orderbird.
Ariel Lukane is UK Brand Ambassador for Orderbird, an award winning and innovative new Ipad based point of sale system aimed at the restaurant industry. With over 2,000 users, spread across the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and awards from the Hasso Plattner Institute’s enable2start program, the Financial Times, and the Europas, the Company has already succeeded in raising $3.5 million in investment to fund international expansion.
Thursday is Orderbird’s official UK press launch, and they have opted to take journalists on a barge trip through central London via Regents Canal, organised (or maybe even marshalled) by Ruthe Wainman, of Marshmallow Media. Captain for the day is William, of Vestal Vodka, who brews his own potato based Vodka in Poland. It’s a rare day on his beloved boat for William, who has become more used to dividing his time between boardrooms in New York and London as his Company grows. His enthusiasm is infectious, and it needs, to be, because barges, it turns out, are not everyone’s cup of tea!
Perhaps due to her having completed the Hackney Half-Marathon over the weekend, Ariel Lukane arrives fresh faced and full of beans, lending a further touch of glamour to proceedings, and completing the crew for the day.
Patrick Brienen, Co-founder and Head of Sales at Orderbird, is also here, working the barge motif: if our system can work here, it can work anywhere! He has a point. He invites us to test the software, we oblige, and it is ludicrously easy to use, genuinely a case of “why has no-one done this before?” Here’s how it works:
In a nutshell, restaurant and bar staff take your order using an iPad; a versatile interface allows them to favourite commonly chosen items, cancel orders, add notes, etc., and when complete the whole order is sent straight to the kitchen or bar. Settling the bill is easy, it can be itemised or split, and the receipt is printed automatically when the transaction is complete. When you think that most restaurant staff in London appear to have a choice between a leaky pen and grease stained, alcohol soaked paper pad, or staggering under the weight of a hefty electronic machine with an aversion to any credit card that is more than a few days old, it becomes clear that Orderbird have identified a problem within an industry and solved it, the key to any successful business.
The software is protected, the support network established via a 50 strong team based in Berlin who offer 24 hour support, and, just for fun, Orderbird has inbuilt accountancy software that will tell you exactly how your business is performing, down to the smallest detail. Your accountant may not thank you, but all you will need to worry about is what to do with all the time you suddenly have on your hands!
It’s genuinely hard to think of a downside: there are competitors, of course, but no-one threatening to dominate the market; 98% of existing users recommend OrderBird, and the software is inexpensive (once you have borne the initial cost of the IPad). What is far more likely to make or break Orderbird as a business, then, is its marketing strategy, and that’s where Ariel comes in.
Ariel arrived in London after spending 15 years working in the film and television industry in Toronto. Playing an alien in hit TV series Defiance was in many ways perfect preparation for a move to London, which, she says, has been a challenge, inspiring, a “yo yo”, but 100% worthwhile.
A mutual friend introduced her to Patrick, and on a trip to Berlin discussions took place at trendy nightspot Bohemia, over “scientific” cocktails, before the appointment was made official in London, during the cafe culture trade show in May.
Ariel is not your average salesperson, and it strikes me that Orderbird have chosen well. She is thoughtful, not blinkered, very focused on detail, and above all a socialite (positive connotations only) with a breath-taking ability to find herself in the right place, at the right time, surrounded by friends, or soon-to-become friends. She is one of those people who rarely stop talking, because they always have something intelligent to say. As her name suggests she is a little cosmic, striking, “a fairy”, as she jokingly refers to herself, recalling the many times she has confounded her bosses expectations, by turning a negative spiralling situation on its head. One head honcho became so convinced she was a lucky charm he even asked her to pick his lottery numbers!
In typical fashion she has thrown herself enthusiastically into the task of studying the Point of Sale (POS) market in the UK from the perspective of its locals. For example, however much of a cliché it may be, she understands that we Brits are not enamoured by efficiency and cleanliness of transaction in the same way that Canadians and Germans are. She points out that in Toronto, e-POS systems have evolved, with IPads often found attached to the dining table; you order your food with it, and it’s brought to you shortly afterwards. You can even sign the bill on the tablet with your finger, no need for your card to leave your wallet. On the one hand, this places the power in the hands of the customer, on the other it feels a little against tradition, and we set a lot of stall by tradition over here.
Ariel chooses her words carefully: “anything is possible”; Orderbird “has the potential to be the leading E-POS” system for the hospitality industry in London”.
Encouraged by the feedback she has gotten from a series of brunch dates, “coffee mornings” (literally spending a morning visiting café after café and chatting to baristas), market research, and her own observations, she has curated an action plan aimed at generating leads with a particular focus on pitching Orderbird to up and coming areas and businesses, giving chain restaurants a wide berth, and focusing on boutiques in areas such as Haggerston, Chelsea, Notting Hill and Clerkenwell.
In terms of product offering she feels the competition is a long way behind, however Orderbird are coming to the UK party a little late, and therefore trying to roll out the service in double quick time. This concerns Ariel slightly, “don’t run before you can walk”, and her honesty is refreshing. She genuinely seems to want to get the best deal for everyone. You meet a lot of people who will tell you that, you meet very few who you believe.
So will Orderbird succeed in cracking the UK market? The client testimonials and the products sheer simplicity and ease of use suggest it will, but uptake is likely to be slow at first, with every festival stall, restaurant, cafe, or beer garden outlet hard won, plus, early adopting businesses don’t tend to have large turnovers. If they can establish a foothold, however, there is no doubt that they have the right team in place to turn a promising product into a business success. Both Ariel, and Orderbird, could soon be spoiled for choice!