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Hong Kong firm builds app for easier queuing

BasicElements wants to help eateries and other organizations manage queuing effectively with its app QueuEasy, said the firm's founders.

CWHK: When did you found BasicElements? Why QueuEasy?

Jeremy Lee: Three of us founded the company in 2010. Now there are two R&D persons and two sales people working at the firm. We developed different tools and won in contests such as those organized by Google and Nokia. We found that customer queuing is an everyday issue that restaurants could manage more effectively, thus our development of the mobile app QueuEasy, which took us 18 months.

CWHK: How does the app work?

JL: A member restaurant has QR codes on an Internet-connected device such as a tablet--after a person scans a QR code, they're in a cyberqueue for a table, and they can go shopping or whatever. Customers can check out the menu on his/her smartphone or tablet, but can only order after being seated in the restaurant and scanning a QR code at the table itself. This helps eliminate situations where people order food without getting into a restaurant.

The person can queue for five restaurants in the same vicinity at the same time. By default, the person will get a push alert when there are fewer than 5 people before him or her in the queue. And the location-based app allows users to change the preference for this alert function.

In case customers want physical queuing tickets, they can print them by tapping a button on the restaurant's device. Diners can also give feedback directly to member restaurants via the app.

There's a remote queuing feature in our app that allows people to queue up long before they arrive at the restaurant. But it's up to the eatery to activate the feature--this can be reserved for member diners or VIPs.

We also provide a content management system where restaurants can edit promotional content displayed on the device where their customers scan QR codes for queuing.

CWHK: Besides restaurants, who are your targeted customers?

JL: Any organizations with queues--for instance clinics, banks, and government services. At the moment we are approaching restaurants in Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan for testing our apps.

We find that those in Shenzhen are more enthusiastic about our product. Some restaurants in Hong Kong worry about the tech-savviness of their front-line employees.

CWHK: How much does it cost a restaurant to use your product?

JL: We charge US$4 for 10,000 push notifications and US$6 for unlimited push notifications. On top of that, we charge HK$400 per month for using the food order function plus 1.5% of each bill.

CWHK: Do you provide analytics reports to member restaurants?

JL: This will be included in the future. And we will also build a membership system.

CWHK: Are there many rival apps?

JL: There are some queuing apps used in Hong Kong, but with different queuing mechanisms. For instance, there's an app that requires users to scan QR codes on physical tickets. There's also an app used in a mall where people need to get to physical screens to see their queuing status. In Shenzhen, there are reservation apps, restaurant finding apps, and queuing apps without the food-ordering function.

CWHK: What are the major challenges facing you?

JL: It's hard to hire developers. A lot of people who know apps development prefers building their own apps to working for someone else.

CWHK: What are your future plans?

JL: We'd like to team up with POS makers and find partners in China and Taiwan to help us get closer to our targeted customers. We will also work on a location-based app that allows companies to promote their offers.

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