Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chowking, Jollibee, Greenwich, Red Ribbon to Launch Integrated E-Commerce Fast Food Chain Site and Delivery Service

Just got word from Manolo Almagro, Head of the Digital Team at Jollibee Foods Corporation that the company is launching the e-commerce initiative of the 4 brands in coming months. It will start with Chowking (soft launch on March 31) and Jollibee (soft launch on April 19). Followed by Greenwich and finally Red Ribbon (both will have soft launch schedule sometime this May).

The initial delivery area is limited to Metro Manila and shall be expanded to other delivery areas over time.

However, what will make this effort different is the integration, Almagro explained, "There will be a site that will allow for cross brand ordering. You can order from any of the 4 brands and mix and match a meal."

I was able to take a sneak peak at one of them and like the easy to use interface. Gave some suggestions on how can it be improved further after trying out to pick my favorite food order online.

Like in the case of Jollibee, a sample order would comprise of 2-piece burger steak, macaroni soup, chocolate sundae, and pineapple juice (plus a champ or yum burger with cheese take out). Their coffee is one of the best too.

For Chowking, a sample order would either be Spicy Chaofan / siomai, Kings Congee, or Beef Wanton Noodles (Mami). Then buchi and pineapple juice. I am also a big fan of their Kings Special breakfast and hope that can also be ordered online. However, since Chowking has a wide variety of individual and group food menus, I'm sure this site will be an exciting one to watch.

I consider the soups, desert and drinks as add-ons and I think they should appear on the side-bar as options after one picks a main meal order.

Although I think it is possible that there are two types of customers: (which of the two are you?)
  1. Shop and choose. Those who want to look at the menu and pick.
  2. Just give an order right away. Where a form with drop down menu option would suit best for fast transaction. (Well it is fast food to begin with.)
It is interesting when Manolo said that the 4 sites will have similar user experience (design) and ordering interfaces -- but each shall have unique branding. This uniformity will make it easier for users to shop from one brand site to the other without having to take much effort in re-learning the interface.

"The concept is that if we design each site to have similar ordering building experience, we will be able to leverage on the institutional knowledge that will be built up over time. It is much like how ATMs work, if you use one- then you can pretty much use them all – regardless of what network they are on.

We’ve integrated these directly into our delivery call-centers. It will allow people that have ordered online to already be registered as customers for phone in orders."

Special features of the upcoming e-commerce sites also include:
  • “Share-this” - a widget that will allow people to post recommendations of their favorite meals on their social media networks,
  • The ability for registered users to save their previous orders. This way, they can place an order in seconds – as their “usual” order.
The sites shall be built on Magento - an open source e-commerce engine. It is the same platform used by companies like The North Face, GAP, Old Navy, and Stussy.

The Digital Team of Jollibee Food Corporation is a new group that was created in June 2009 (when Manolo moved to the Philippines from the US). It is a cross discipline group of marketing, digital, and software development skill sets. It is part of Jollibee Corporate and work across all of its brands.

To monitor the launch developments, follow the brands at Twitter @iwantjollibee @ilovechowking @greenwich @iwantredribbon

I recall that my first time in doing online ordering was around 1999-2001 and have done so several times. The funny thing then was that we were using dial-up Internet connection. So after ordering, we have to hang-up the Internet connection and wait for the phone call for our food order to be confirmed. But these days, with more advanced Internet connectivity, things should be easier.