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Forget dine and dash. Try dash and dine.
A new iPhone application called Storific, launched Monday, provides hungry consumers with a mobile way to skip the hassle of in-restaurant ordering and waiting and instead find, order, and pay for food before pick-up or dine-in.
People can use Storific to check out menus, place orders, pay through a PayPal wallet, and get notified when orders are ready for pick up. The application also encourages sharing, includes a social tab for checking out friends’ orders, and integrates with Facebook.
The overall Storific experience has been fine-tuned for consumer convenience and is being marketed as a cross between mobile pay startup Square and social check-in service Foursquare. Storific also caters to small and local businesses by offering them a more affordable ordering option than the ones provided by juggernauts GrubHub and Seamless.
“The restaurant owner wastes a lot of time taking orders,” Storific CEO and founder Michael Cohen told VentureBeat. “We’ve worked with [restaurant owners] to completely remove the ordering process and give customers a chance to order ahead and not have to wait in line.”
Paris-based Storific, which first got its start with a web-based version of an ordering app in December 2010, works in roughly 80 locations in the U.S. and Europe. The company has an exclusive arrangement with PayPal, which means that all payments are processed by the eBay-owned payments provider. The partnership keeps costs down for participating businesses — PayPal charges them its standard transaction fees — and means that merchants will see app sales deposited in their PayPal accounts immediately.
Cohen believes the PayPal integration will make Storific an attractive choice for local merchants with small budgets. Restaurants don’t want to hand over their entire customer base to companies like GrubHub or Seamless, he said, because they’ll lose a hefty percentage of sales on commission fees.
“We are a new kind of ordering kiosk. It’s really targeted to be in place, in the store, and be promoted by every local business, because we only charge the PayPal fee,” Cohen said.
The application has promise, but it also has issues. It’s lunchtime, and I’m hungry, so I launch Storific and find a few places nearby accepting mobile orders. Great. But wait. I see a “Paused” icon listed next to a few venues and notice that I actually can’t order anything at all. What gives?
Storific allows participating restaurants to “pause” mobile orders when they’re inundated with business. That’s great for them, but it destroys the experience for me, the I-need-to-eat-right-now consumer who doesn’t want to play the refresh game and will just sacrifice convenience for immediate gratification.
But Cohen insists that local restaurants are excited about the service and that many new merchants have signed up to participate since the company went live with the app this morning. The more options, the more likely consumers will be to give the application a test run.
Storific has offices in Paris and Bordeaux. The startup has raised $300,000 in seed funding and is actively raising a Series A round to grow its U.S. presence.