How can we validate this idea for a restaurant/bar app?
I'm a software engineer from the Netherlands. A friend and I have an idea for creating a progressive web app for medium-to-large size restaurants and bars. How would we validate if people would use the following app?
This app would serve two different types of users: guests, and restaurant or bar employees. These users would have a different purpose when using the application.
The guest scans a QR code with the camera on their mobile, which downloads the app from an app store or goes to the restaurant's website (the website and app are the same application). The app is opened and the guest can see the menu, order, and pay for their items. After the payment has been successfully completed, a notification is sent to the restaurant or bar.
Restaurant or bar staff
The restaurant or bar employee can receive orders in the application, and would also have an overview of the payments. When an order is ready to be served, a notification will be displayed to the user. The guest can then see whether the order is being brought to his table or whether the order is ready at the bar.
Websites are better than apps in this context.
They have broader compatibility, and are usually easier to use and quicker to download.
As a user, why make me download an app I may never use again when there is probably a competitor that doesn't put such a burden on me? Unless you know you have a dedicated audience of repeat customers, most patrons will only have one visit. Push notifications and other app features are potentially overkill when all they want is food.
Menus (even online digital ones) are familiar with an expected interaction model. A brand new app won't be familiar and it will take a lot of work on your part to make sure users don't spend several minutes fiddling with things and slowing your turn times.
You mention that this is a progressive web app, but also mention using an app store. Using an app store comes with additional complications.
Are you 100% sure all your patrons will have compatible devices? You might be reasonably sure they have smartphones (and can access websites), but what is the app store's lowest supported version? Suppose you seat a large family and all they have is an iPhone 4. What do they do? Fall back to paper menus and cash only? What if they don't have cash?
Making payments in an app also usually requires you to give the app store owner a cut, often 30%. Restaurants don't usually have high enough margins to cover that.
A possible way to make an app more viable would be to incorporate it into the restaurant experience to make it worth downloading. Add a live video feed from the oven so I can watch my pizza bake, or let me message my waiter and ask for more bread without needing to catch them walking by. It might be a novelty, but whole restaurant chains have been built around such things.