Business Caterer Hutten Creates Innovative Contactless Payment System Using IoT Sensors and Mendix-Built Mobile Application

Native mobile solution streamlines customer experience and catering operations, and generates a treasure trove of data for Hutten and its customers

Application proves especially valuable as COVID-19 triggers need to limit physical contact whenever possible

BOSTON – July 21, 2020Mendix, a Siemens business and the global leader in enterprise low-code, today announced that Hutten, an award-winning business catering service in the Netherlands, has developed Hutten Tap & Pay, the first native mobile app that combines product tapping and mobile or in-app payment on a PIN-based point-of-sale terminal at a company cafeteria or restaurant. The system enables diners to make all their selections and pay for them without requiring staff interaction. The result is a faster, smoother experience for the customer, better traffic flow, more efficient food service operations, and a wealth of data that can be used to further improve customer satisfaction and drive better business results. An added benefit is minimizing physical contact at a time when COVID-19 is a serious concern.

The complete solution, consisting of an application backend and native mobile app, was devised and developed in just nine months by Nokavision in collaboration with Hutten, on the Mendix low-code platform. Low-code is a model-based, visual approach to application development that enables developers of varied experience levels to create applications for web and mobile, using drag-and-drop components and model-driven logic through a graphical user interface.

Tapping Eliminates the Need for Physical Interaction
At the heart of the system are wireless product cards (also called electronic shelf labels) that communicate with the smartphone application and the application backend at the point-of-sale terminal. To tap a food or drink item for purchase, dining customers simply hold their smartphones close to an item’s product card as they pick up the product. The product selection process is called tapping, but no physical contact actually takes place. The entire interaction is touch-free using near-field communications or a barcode scanned by the phone’s camera — a particular advantage in these pandemic times, when the need to avoid physical contact is paramount.

Payments are frictionless and entirely mobile via Payconiq or by activating the unmanned PIN terminal at the end of a restaurant’s fast lane checkout. By scanning the QR code at the PIN terminal, the app knows where the customer wants to pay. The correct amount is automatically sent from the mobile app, via the integrated cloud solution of payment service provider CCV, to the relevant PIN terminal. The customer can pay directly using a debit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Digital product cards (for instance, those used in grocery stores) are usually connected by cables. A wireless solution was needed to simplify installation at the many customer locations that Hutten serves, where wiring so many cards would be problematic. So the company installed cableless product cards powered by a battery that lasts up to six years. Each restaurant can utilize an unlimited number of cards, in general they use about 150 per location, these cards are controlled wirelessly via an infrared transmitter in the ceiling. The backend application ensures the correct source data from Hutten is presented on the product card. In addition, restaurant visitors don’t need to be logged onto the local Wi-Fi network to use the application; a 4G connection is sufficient.

App Drives Efficiency and Satisfaction, and Decreases Food Waste
The Hutten Tap & Pay app enables Hutten to operate its customers’ restaurants more efficiently and increase on-site employee satisfaction by preventing long queues during lunch. Using the mobile app, employees can view the menu of the week, see their personalized order histories, and select special daily offers (such as combination deals or healthy food selections). Guests also can save points in a loyalty program for free products. By analyzing the collected data, Hutten can incorporate personal preferences into each account’s ordering and fulfillment process.

“With this app, we have real-time insight into what is tapped at what time, so it is easier for us to combat food waste,” said Bob Hutten, CEO and major shareholder of Hutten. “For example, fresh products can be offered at the end of the day via a notification for a reduced price. And because we know the lunch preferences of employees through data analysis, we can make smart purchases. For Hutten, which has been actively fighting food waste for years, this is a very important part of the application.”

Low-Code Enables Fast Action, So App Can Deliver New Capabilities to Multiple Sites
One of the advantages of working with Mendix is ​​that the platform supports native mobile functionality via React Native. The Tap & Pay application, combined with the integration of Hutten’s master data, the product cards and infrared technology, can be rolled out quickly at multiple customer locations.

“The great thing about working with Mendix’s low-code platform is ​​that the application could be built much faster and at a lower cost,” said John Peters, director BD at Nokavision. “Usually, there are three development paths — iOS, Android and the backend — each with their own development languages ​​and programmers. Thanks to the Mendix platform, this was not necessary for the development of the Hutten Tap & Pay app.”

“Hutten is at the forefront of the world of corporate caterers, but the underlying technology will also make a big difference in other sectors,” said Mariken Reijs, customer success manager at Mendix. “Consider the supermarket sector. Using this type of technology, a customer would no longer have to go to a clerk at checkout to buy products. And after tapping a product card, extra content can easily be offered — such as supporting videos about the product that was tapped. We look forward to further exploring the possibilities with Hutten and similar enterprises.”

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