DimOrder Founder Tim Lee set up the firm to streamline restaurant operations.
Staff and management costs are persistent pain points for the catering industry. Hong Kong start-up DimOrder has developed a system that covers everything from diners’ orders and check-out to restaurant management and ingredient procurement, letting restaurants implement digital management and streamline operations.
US venture capital company Y Combinator has chosen DimOrder for its incubation plan, and it became one of the 10 laureates for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s (HKTDC) Start-up Express entrepreneur mentorship programme.
The firm has also become the official Hong Kong agent of Meituan’s Dianping platform, an application most visitors from Mainland China have been using for many years.
DimOrder Founder Tim Lee cut his teeth in the financial industry before moving into catering industry, opening a Japanese restaurant with his friend Ben Wong. They quickly encountered a lack of staff, expensive ingredients and absence of data analysis and eventually closed their restaurant to concentrate on addressing these problems.
DimOrder was established in 2019 with three founders. Mr Lee said: “At that time, QR code ordering was not common in Hong Kong but it had been used for more than 10 years in the mainland.”
Initially DimOrder's QR code system of was very simple with just one printer.
“After using it for two or three months, some bosses said it was very convenient. They suggested we develop a POS system and add an order entry function to save waiters the time of walking to the cashier to enter orders. We completed the POS prototype in the fourth quarter of 2020 and officially launched it in 2021.”
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) POS system helps restaurants implement data-based management, including ordering process, queuing, order status, transactions and menus, and synchronises with the cloud in real time to improve operational efficiency. The system avoids errors and waiters are free to recommend food, dishes or wine to diners, thereby increasing business.
A POS system can cut the head-count and the unit price of electronic ordering is just 38% of traditional costs, while electronic checkout is 5 to 7 minutes faster. Diners can also order while queuing, improving turnover.
Mr Lee said diners using mobile phones to order by themselves meant firms could pre-set suggested options such as drinks and desserts. Artificial intelligence could be used to operate and analyse data suggesting choices to diners.
Diners can pay directly with phones after meals or when placing orders, without need for cashiers. The self-service payment function also records consumption data and restaurants can send electronic coupons to different customers, which helps to implement VIP and membership systems.
The catering industry was customised, Mr Lee said. Customers had unique capability and content needs.
The POS system market was highly competitive with 30 brands in Hong Kong alone and more than 1,000 brands in Southeast Asia. DimOrder also provides such services such as self-service payment, customer app, community building, and marketing promotion, and is the only POS company to supply reviews.
Most customers are small and medium-sized restaurants, including noodle shops, hot pot restaurants and western restaurants. Most of the current 1,500 customers are Hong Kong restaurants.
Having become one of the 10 winning Start-up Express firms, Mr Lee said: “After winning, our exposure in the media has increased, and the award has also helped the company build its brand. We have contacted the Southeast Asian office of the HKTDC, hoping to have opportunities for cooperation. Overseas offices, expanding the Southeast Asian market.”