Depending on the collaborative operation, merchants may operate at different hours. But with TableTab, customers can order from all merchants simultaneously. So we had to build a way that customers know which merchants are open and can accept orders. This need became the feature covered in this blog post: catalog scheduling.
Our catalog scheduling feature is straightforward. When merchants create a shared product catalog on TableTab, they are asked to assign hours. It looks like this:
Once set, TableTab uses the hours to determine when customers can order from a catalog. Merchants, of course, may have multiple catalogs, or menus (i.e., happy hour menu), and each can be assigned its hours.
If a merchant shuts down at 10:00 PM, we advise that no catalog is available to order from after that time. Some merchants will even schedule their catalog to shut off earlier, like at 9:45 PM, to prevent last-minute orders that may force the kitchen and staff to operate longer than intended.
What does this look like for customers?
There’s no change in the ordering experience if staff take customers’ orders (via our collaborative terminals or mobile handhelds). Through those payment channels, staff can inform a customer whether an item or catalog is available to order from or not.
With QR codes, it is even simpler: customers only see available catalogs at the time of scanning. This means if a customer scans a QR code at 10:00:01 PM, they will be unable to order from the merchant whose catalogs shut down at 10:00 PM.
Changing catalog hours on the fly
Because TableTab automates catalog scheduling, we ensure that every merchant will only receive orders during their preset period. But sometimes, hours can change last-minute: a merchant can’t open due to sickness or being understaffed. Or maybe a merchant needs to close down early because they sold out.
When merchants need to change their scheduled hours on the fly, we make it extremely quick and easy for merchants to do so.
A merchant usually open until 10:00 PM but needs to shut down at 9:00 PM simply goes into their TableTab account and changes the catalog hour for that day to 9:00 PM. Alternatively, merchants can click “take catalog offline.” When this happens, any customer ordering via QR code will no longer see items from that catalog, preventing them from placing orders.
What’s the impact
The impact of catalog scheduling is an organized, self-sustaining, and automated collaborative operation where customers can still have a streamlined ordering experience while enabling merchants to control their own hours and make changes if necessary.