After learning that many Belmont students don’t use or even know about the new Tapingo mobile ordering app, a few members of the Vision staff — mainly myself and our 5 Minute Expert, Harrison Baldwin — thought we’d give the app a try.
The first thing we wanted when we downloaded Tapingo was exactly what the app promotes as its main selling point. “Download the app and never wait again,” the app’s website claims. We were excited to find out that this was mostly true. After ordering from several different dining spots on campus during their busiest times — not Mein Bowl,because never again — we found that our orders were usually already there waiting for us when we arrived, allowing us to skip the line and leave quickly.
This made us realize the practical applications an app like this can have for the average college student, and is largely the reason why we didn’t erase it from our phones after our review period had ended. There are several things we liked, and a few things we didn’t. Here’s what we thought:
The app design
Tapingo’s design was surprisingly simple and clean, allowing for a user-friendly experience. There are several nifty features included in the app, like an account info tab that lets you check your declining points balance — who wants to buy me Chick-fil-A? — and a timer that updates you on where your food is and how long it will take to make. The app also notifies you when your order is ready for pickup, though we found that the order was usually already done before the estimated time the app predicted.
However, we weren’t thrilled with how limited the app could sometimes be with custom ordering, or some of the dining locations that were excluded from the list. Chick-fil-A, for example, is not included in the app — a bummer, considering Chick-fil-A usually has the longest line for lunch and seemingly never any fries. Specialty or limited edition items — most notably the Pumpkin Spice Latte at the campus Starbucks — are also not available.
The campus Starbucks was the first spot we ordered from with Tapingo, and was probably somewhat unfairly our “make or break” for the app. We’ve all seen the line for Starbucks going out the door before and after class, and we wanted to test the app specifically during that time. We waited until 2:50 on Wednesday to place our orders, while Harrison — a Starbucks barista himself — advised us on the most complicated drinks we could order to really test the app’s claims of efficiency. We ordered our drinks, which can be customized somewhat liberally within the app and walked over to Starbucks with mixed expectations.
To our surprise, our drinks were sitting on the counter waiting for us when we arrived, and we were able to skip the huge, post-class line.
Our advice for Starbucks and Tapingo: download the app, order your drink in the last five minutes of class, then head over to Starbucks, skip the line and pick it up. It’ll save you that precious in-between class time.
McAlister’s was our next Tapingo experiment, after we found out we couldn’t order Chick-fil-A from the app. Our experience here was largely the same as Starbucks — we ordered around lunchtime, but our food was there waiting for us when we arrived. The app’s listed menu was also a great way to quickly dig through McAlister’s pretty expansive menu. The only hiccup we experienced here was having to wait a minute or so for the person working the register to grab our food from the counter and hand it to us, but considering they were facing down a mob of hungry students by themselves, we weren’t too upset about it.
Sandella’s was the only restaurant we really hit a bump with. Harrison ordered a flatbread around lunchtime, and when we went to pick it up they had to ask if we wanted white or wheat, rendering the whole pre-ordering thing somewhat pointless. The app doesn’t give you the option for white or wheat, but we figured you could just as easily comment which kind of flatbread you’d like at the end of your order. Sandella’s was also the place where, after a week of reviewing the app, we saw our first Tapingo order that wasn’t ours sitting on the counter.
As we mentioned previously, Tapingo ultimately surprised us. The app delivered on its promises of time-saving, and for that we commend it. In college, time is valuable, and anything that can save your time should be utilized. That being said, we hope to see a lot more people ordering from this app in the future.