Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

We Don’t Need More Apps

Dear business owners. Not everything needs to be an app. We, your (potential) customers, don’t want to have to use an app for every single damn thing. This self-serve unmanned OMO Store used to offer great app-less experience. It is now hopelessly unusable.

I appreciate the excitement some business users have about digitalisation. The Internet offers many fascinating monetisation opportunities. Sometimes, they make good sense and offer mutual benefits to both customers and businesses. At other times, I seriously wonder what is wrong with the business owners.

Several years ago, I would from time to time order chicken rice to go from a certain Boon Tong Kee outlet. It was very convenient. While driving home, I would call the shop and place my order. Then, I’ll swing by about 10 minutes later to pick up, drive-thru style like McDonalds. There’s no app, no online payment. They prepare some change, usually making the correct assumption about the cash amount I’ll tender. I just stop my car briefly by the kerbside, and through my wound-down window, complete the transaction with their service staff.

Then, one day, Boon Tong Kee launched an app. While they still took my order through the phone, they now wanted exact-change for kerbside pickups. They told me, if I don’t have the right amount, then use the app to order and pay. I’ve not gone back since.

I don’t disagree that a food ordering app is useful. I use Grab Food, for example. What I object to is to have a single shop, like Boon Tong Kee, launching an app and then requiring customers to use their app.

Can you just imagine, if every food seller wanted customers to install their bespoke mobile app? What was Boon Tong Kee thinking, that they have a monopoly on chicken rice that could compel customers to install an app if they ever wanted to eat chicken rice?

It is 2021 now. I am not sure what OMO Store is thinking. This is a small convenience store. Like a 7-11 or Cheers, if you will. It is self-serve and unmanned, meaning you just go in, pick the stuff you want, check out, and leave. Simple. It’s been how it worked since they opened here. Until I discovered this week, that an app is now required to enter the store.

I imagine they have dreams to be the Amazon Go of Singapore. I’m sorry, but you are one shop. It is not going to work.

But I’ll give you a chance. I tried. I very relunctantly and very grudgingly installed your app. However, when I launched the app, the app crashed. I retried. I rebooted and tried again. You see, I’ve tried, but your app does not work. Perhaps you did not test enough on a variety of phones. Might I point out, this is on a “reference standard” Android smartphone, so you have no excuse that I might have some archaic phone that you did not know existed.

You created a problem that did not have to exist, and you’ve now prevented me from shopping.

Please understand this. Not everything needs to have an app. We do not want to have to use a different app for everything that we would ever need to do.

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