Maishoku as a Platform

For the first official Maishoku blog post, we’d like to describe a concept that is central to what Maishoku is – the concept of a platform, and specifically of Maishoku as a platform.

The term “platform” can mean a lot of different things on the Internet these days, but in this post the word “platform” will be used in both the economic sense and the technical sense.

Simply put, Maishoku’s role as a platform is to enable buyers and sellers of food to reach each other more efficiently than they could through any other means. In this case, sellers of food are restaurants, and buyers of food are individuals and companies. Maishoku’s technology enables commerce between these buyers and sellers in four main ways: 1) communication, 2) mobility 3) localization, and 4) payments.

Historically, communication between buyers and sellers of food has mostly taken place either by telephone, or in person inside of a restaurant. While this kind of communication has always gotten the job done, it is inherently unscalable. When speaking by phone or in person, the buyer and the seller must always be speaking synchronously with each other. If five people want to buy food at the same time, four of them must wait while the first one communicates with the restaurant to place his or her order. With communication technology such as the Internet, however, the process of ordering food can become an asynchronous and concurrent process. Five people who happen to want food from the same restaurant at the same time can place their order concurrently, and the restaurant will process the orders asynchronously as they come in. The end result is no waiting required by the buyers, and no synchronous limitations imposed by the seller. In a market that has historically been dominated by synchronous communication mechanisms such as the telephone and face-to-face conversation – i.e., the food ordering market – Maishoku’s use of the Internet as an asynchronous technology allows for a much more efficient market microstructure by design.

By “mobility”, we mean that Maishoku is accessible through mobile devices, not just from a traditional desktop-based Internet connection. Currently there are native Maishoku applications available for both iPhone and Android, both of which were designed with the goal of making food ordering on the go as simple and fast as possible. These specialized mobile applications eliminate the need for buyers of food to fall back on either telephone or face-to-face interaction when they are on the go. Thus, the value proposition of Maishoku as the most efficient way to order food online for pickup or delivery is not merely applicable to users sitting at their desk – it is applicable to mobile users as well.

Besides communication and mobility, being able to find, order, and pay for food on a mobile device illustrates one other way in which Maishoku enables more efficient buying and selling of food: localization. Both of the Maishoku mobile applications are available in Japanese, English, and Korean as of now, and there is no technical limit on the number of other languages we can support. By using Maishoku to order food, buyers do not need to speak the same language as the sellers. Japan may be a largely homogeneous society, but for those who do not speak Japanese well enough to order food in person or over the phone, Maishoku provides the translation required to facilitate the transaction. The benefits of this functionality should be obvious: buyers can order from any restaurant in the Maishoku network regardless of what language they or the restaurant understand, and sellers can sell to anybody within pickup or delivery range regardless of the languages they can speak, thereby removing language as a potential barrier to commerce.

Lastly, Maishoku makes buying and selling food more efficient by providing flexible payment methods. Through Maishoku, buyers may always choose to pay by credit card or by cash, regardless of whether the restaurant has the capability to accept credit cards internally. These payment methods are always available through both the website and through the mobile applications. For example, if somebody is on the go and is low on cash, he or she can still order from any restaurant in the Maishoku network within takeaway or delivery range, simply by entering the credit card details on the mobile device. For buyers, having access to food through multiple payment methods removes the dependence on cash as a prerequisite for eating, and for sellers, being able to accept orders by credit card without a merchant account of their own provides access to more buyers than they could normally accomodate.

In this post we briefly described four ways in which Maishoku acts as a platform in the food ordering market in Japan. At the end of the day, though, Maishoku is not strictly about making markets more efficient – it’s about being there for the people both making food and ordering it in that market. As a platform, Maishoku is focused on integrating into people’s lifestyles at home, at the office, and at play. Our vision will be achieved if Maishoku helps you to be more time-efficient, healthier, and happier.

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