• Skip the queue with order-ahead apps. (Anthony Delanoix)Source: Anthony Delanoix
Leave the line behind for coffee - and now takeaway, too.
Chloe Papas

25 Aug 2016 - 6:49 AM  UPDATED 25 Aug 2016 - 6:51 AM

Hate waiting in line? You’re not alone – and there’s a way to skip the queue for your morning coffee.

Order ahead food and drink apps are gaining traction in Australia, catering to those on the run and those who just hate waiting in line.

With food delivery apps dime a dozen these days, order ahead services are tapping into the smartphones of customers who are happy to leave the comfort of their couch to pick up dinner but don’t want to hang around waiting for it, or who want to grab a quick coffee on the walk between the train station and work.  

Both smartphone apps are free  .... They allow users to order from cafes and restaurants nearby, pay for their purchase online, and dodge the queue on arrival.

There are two major apps on the markets for those who want to pre-order coffee or food from their favourite local: Hey You (originally known as Beat the Q) and Skip.

Both smartphone apps are free to download and use. They allow users to order from cafes and restaurants nearby, pay for their purchase online, and dodge the queue on arrival to pick up their espresso or latte.

“The whole idea came from trying to solve the frustration of wasting time when waiting in queues,” Skip’s General Manager Bill Bizos told SBS.

“The other barrier we wanted to solve was the issue of venues only accepting cash,” he said.

Hey You began as three competing apps - Beat the Q, Posse and eCoffee Card - an order ahead app, a social recommendations service, and a loyalty program.

"We thought if we brought the three apps together we'd create a much better customer experience, and a bigger network of customers for venues,” Hey You co-founder Rebekah Campbell told SBS.   

Both Skip and Hey You began as services focused on coffee orders, but have quickly branched out to include food orders from selected cafes in most major cities and a few regional spots.

“Food is available at the moment on Skip, but we're going to continue to evolve that and it's where our focus will lie in the immediate future,” says Bizos.

Skip currently has over 60,000 users, and Hey You has around 300,000 users.

Both companies are branching out beyond cafe orders; Hey You partnered with the Australian Open earlier this year to allow tennis-goers to order food and drinks without leaving their seats, and Skip are currently trialling a service at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne that will encourage customers to order ahead at sporting events.

Hey You can also be used through the Westpac app, and partnered with Uber earlier this year, allowing customers to hop in a car and pick up their coffee without ever taking out their wallets.

According to Campbell, Hey You has plans to allow users to “order from their tables” in cafes. "If you're just out for lunch, you don't want to have to wait for the waiter to come and take your order,” she said.

A number of apps that usually focus on food delivery also offer ordering ahead as a secondary service, including EatNow and MenuLog.

Paypal also allows users to order ahead from certain local restaurants and takeaway venues with their app, with funds taken directly from the user’s nominated Paypal account.

Order ahead apps are already part of daily life in the US, with apps like Nowait going one step further to allow customers to wait in line at restaurants without even leaving their homes.

Lead image by Anthony Delanoix via Barn Images

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