Source: Grace Ashiru/Tech In Africa
PointsBud is on the verge of revolutionizing the food ordering experience by unveiling an AI-driven system that enables users to purchase food in minutes, eliminating human intervention.
While sitting down for a casual product demonstration at our Lagos office, ‘Deji Atoyebi, the brain behind PointsBud, caught the attention of my colleague, Ngozi Chukwu, and others present. The excitement was palpable as ‘Deji delved into the intricacies of his product.
Amidst the growing discourse on AI and its potential implications on employment, ‘Deji stands out as a visionary, crafting AI-integrated solutions that address pressing challenges. He elaborates on how his innovation offers embedded financial services tailored for the hospitality sector.
Having recently launched on August 23, 2023, at a Lagos-based restaurant, PointsBud showcases an AI-enhanced messaging system. This system facilitates rapidly ordering products and services from various vendors via WhatsApp.
The ordering process is streamlined and efficient. For instance, when we expressed our desire for a meal from Circa Lagos, the first restaurant to integrate PointsBud, the AI swiftly confirmed the order’s details and proceeded to the payment phase within a five-minute window.
Currently, each restaurant has its dedicated bot. Deji points out that the bot showcased was specifically tailored for Circa Lagos based on their menu offerings. However, as more restaurants join the platform, a universal PointsBud bot will emerge, offering users a comprehensive list of dining options and other services.
But the innovation doesn’t stop there. ‘Deji hints at the bot’s ability to adapt and learn from user preferences, suggesting related products in subsequent interactions. The AI’s response time outpaced conventional human interactions, even with occasional internet lags.
Still, there’s a human touch involved. An individual oversees the admin panel to validate and decline orders, ensuring customers receive confirmation from the restaurant. Previously, a human would handle the entire process, from taking orders to liaising with the kitchen and managing payments. The human role is now limited to confirming the order with the kitchen, with the rest being automated.
Having previously worked at Flutterwave for four years, ‘Deji envisions a comprehensive system that serves as a foundation for businesses to gain insights into customer behavior. This would enable the hospitality sector to tailor offers and promote products more effectively. The essence of PointsBud, as ‘Deji explains, is to reward loyal customers by understanding their preferences.
The platform’s capabilities extend beyond food ordering. Users can seamlessly book flights and accommodations without any direct human interaction at any stage.
Initially, PointsBud focused on QR codes, directing users to restaurant menus. However, onboarding restaurants proved challenging. While restaurant owners were elusive on platforms like LinkedIn, on-ground staff often acted as gatekeepers, possibly fearing job displacement due to automation.
Victor Daniel, a content creator with a focus on food, sees the potential in AI integration, emphasizing its ability to enhance efficiency. However, he acknowledges the inevitable job losses that come with technological advancements.
Ama Udofa, a food tech professional, believes that eliminating the human element might not be the best approach. He cites how QR code menus disrupted the traditional table-side ordering experience. Yet, he’s not against a hybrid model where AI complements human efforts.
As for the business model, ‘Deji reveals that PointsBud plans to introduce a subscription-based model for accessing certain features alongside charges for marketing automation and delivery tracking.
With its journey just beginning, the trajectory of PointsBud remains a topic of intrigue, promising to redefine the food ordering landscape.
Source: Grace Ashiru/Tech In Africa