Liquid Barcodes


Empowering Intelligent Eating

Paula Thomas, Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes


Having proven the power of a flat rate subscription model for the global fitness industry, Mary Biggins the co-founder of New York-based tech company “Classpass” (now valued at over $1 billion) has spotted the next big opportunity where she believes a subscription services makes sense – lunchtime!

Her latest innovation is called Mealpal which she co-founded with Katie Ghelli in 2016, and while Covid-19 has brought plenty of challenges, the firm has nonetheless successfully launched in twenty cities across the english-speaking world including the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and Singapore.

And the concept seems to be delighting both consumers and investors alike, with over 3 million meals ordered profitably in its first eighteen months alone, helping the founders raise an impressive $20 million for expansion in its most recent investment round. So what’s all the excitement about? This article explores how Mealpal differs from other food tech companies and that the model may be even more relevant now than it was before.

This brief interview from 2018 explains why the subscription model fits so well when consumer confidence is low or in times of uncertainty – undoubtedly the same context for millions of office workers throughout 2020 as they slowly return to their offices in the coming months.

Mary Biggins – Co-Founder of MealPal Explains the Model and it’s Appeal

How Does it Work:

Biggins explains their simple objective – to help their customers to eat “more intelligently”. With a single-minded focus on office workers in densely populated cities, prices for packages vary by volume. Here’s how it works:

  • In the USA, users can pick either a 3 meal trial or subscribe to a meal lunch bundle. Meals are then available from as low as $2.99 for the trial or $5.69 for the ongoing subscription. The headline promise for lunch is “access to the best restaurants for under $6 a meal” and boast a “fast, fun, and efficient” way to enjoy lunch.
  • Each restaurant offers ONE meal option (only) to choose from. This allows them to source ingredients at competitive prices and prepare them efficiently.
  • Restaurants publish their menu option at 5.30pm each day for the following day’s lunch – and lunch ordering remains open until 1.30pm on the day lunch is being collected.
  • Users log in and order their meal each day from any one of the options available in their area. In Mealpal’s home city of New York, over 1,000 options are available each day to choose from.
  • Orders can also be changed until 10.30am on the day of collection.
  • Subscriptions run on a rolling 30 day cycle.
  • Users subscribe to 12 or 20 lunches a month, with a “roll-over” option also available.
  • Certain cities are also offering dinner subscription options from $6.49 per meal.
  • NO delivery is offered. Subscribers collect their lunch from the restaurants at their preferred/selected collection window (a 15 minute slot).
  • ALL purchases are pre-paid and enjoy “skip the line” speed of collection.
  • While commission charges are not published, anecdotal evidence indicates that restaurant partners are significantly happier working with Mealpal versus other marketing channels/partners such as Deliveroo. The founder has assured investors that the model is already profitable with no need to concede margin to win market share.
  • Mealpal also allows users to “gift” a lunch subscription – either privately for individual users, or companies can also fund lunch for staff if they choose.

Mealpal packagesMealpal packages in the USA average just $6 per meal and users skip the line every time.

Win, Win, Win

This innovative idea, while it might take time to educate both consumers and merchants and therefore become mainstream, certainly benefits all users:

  • Consumers can plan and look forward to a tasty and affordable lunch – without the hassle of queueing to pay in store. They can choose a local favourite or continually try new options. While the need to collect their lunch may not always be convenient, users can choose their meal in advance and then look forward to leaving their desks at least once a day. The platform offers users the chance to rate the meals after they’ve ordered, allowing other users to find the great options they might not otherwise have seen. In another recent development, the platform has added a “bot” to train the platform to exclude menu options that a user specifies – for example users who dislike a certain ingredient (or perhaps suffer allergies or sensitivities) will never be offered choices with those ingredients again. This sounds like a huge relief for weary diners having to otherwise repeat their sensitivities on a daily basis.
  • Restaurant partners enjoy the “holy grail” of meals that are actually planned in advance so they can prepare what they need and avoid waste. They also enjoy a predictable fixed price per meal and enjoy up to date information from the platform on what dishes are proving popular with users. Great dishes drive customer loyalty.
  • Mealpal of course operates the technology and without the headache of a delivery option, they avoid the expense of creating and supporting the complicated and expensive logistics that other food-tech platforms incur. Instead they can focus their efforts on recruiting merchants and delighting users – the same “matchmaking” service that made Classpass such an outstanding success.

Covid Challenges and Innovation

As mentioned earlier, Mealpal has also found itself needing to evolve its model to cope with to the almost total absence of office workers during the global pandemic and lockdown. One interesting option it has trialled in New York is the option to pre-order and pay for groceries rather than meals – following their business model principles of a select and pre-defined package on offer, however it’s not being sold on the subscription basis that the company leverages so successfully otherwise. It was built in a week and is called the “MealPal Marketplace” – focused on simply delivering value and convenience through their digital platform in an otherwise derelict market.

In the Australian market, Mealpal has evolved to a more general “membership” model which allows members to access high end restaurants while still offering flexibility of choice, great value and pre-payment. She explains the priorities for success: “You have to save consumers money and you have to make the experience better”.

Future Focused

Prior to the pandemic, in a typical week, MealPal was driving more than $1 million in sales to restaurants in 20 markets globally and to date it has facilitated more than 30 million reservations. While there are no guarantees for any business’s future in these unprecedented times, our hope is that Mealpal continues to innovate and iterate and that they emerge even stronger as the world recovers.

Mealpal logo

About Us:

Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialising in the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.

How we do it:

We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.

Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.

One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.

Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:

About Me:

Paula Thomas

Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Independent Loyalty Consultant

With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing consulting, managing consumer loyalty propositions, strategy and operations. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my clients have included Telefonica O2 Priority, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer Group (UAE), as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a former judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards and host of the “Let’s Talk Loyalty” podcast.


Blog post

Liquid Barcodes Makes U.S. Debut at 2022 NACS Show

Liquid Barcodes exhibited at the 2022 NACS Show demonstrating loyalty, subscription and payment applications.   For the first time in history, Liquid Barcodes had the pleasure of exhibiting in two prominent locations at the 2022 NACS Show both in the busy New Exhibitor Area as well as in the featured partner kiosk in Verifone’s booth […]

Blog post

Save Thousands in Credit Card Fees With ACH

Visa and Mastercard announced an increase in interchange fees earlier in the year and retailers are taking action and sending a message by migrating their customers to new solutions, including mobile app-based ACH payments, and in the process increasing profits by not only reducing credit card fees but also boosting loyalty via innovative app-based incentive […]

Blog post

Subscription Programs Are Economically Smart Investments

Monthly subscriptions to products and services are economically smart investments for retailers and customers With a recession looming and gas prices still at record-high levels, customers are tightening their grip on their wallets. But this doesn’t mean they’ll be turning their backs on convenience store purchases and there are ways you can weather the impending […]

Blog post

Converting Impulse Shoppers to Automatic Customers

Subscription programs for drinks and snacks encourage customers to change from impulse buyers to automatic customers   Customers stop at gas stations and convenience stores to buy fuel, for beverages and snacks and to use the bathroom, essentially in that order of priority. A NACS survey of gas-buying customers found that half went into the […]

Blog post

Maxol Launches First-of-Its-Kind Loyalty App

Maxol, Ireland’s largest family-owned forecourt and convenience retailer, announced it has launched a new customer loyalty app with never-before-seen features in the Irish market. After more than a century serving Irish customers, Maxol’s 240+ stores and service stations are located throughout Ireland and have enjoyed global recognition for their best-in-class operations, store design and offers. […]

Blog post

Delivering Personalized Content With Machine Learning and Image Recognition

Build personalized customer connections, improve efficiency, and make intelligent, data-driven decisions using machine learning and image recognition.   It’s 7:15 in the morning and a customer – Amy – is on her way to work. She is on the hunt for coffee and breakfast and stops at a convenience store. She opens her store app […]

Blog post

Sweet Tea and Coffee Subscription Beverage Programs Brew Recurring Revenue

As summer nears, consumers are turning their attention towards refreshing iced beverages and iced tea is a hot seller this time of year, especially when sold with a subscription beverage program. Sweet tea might be the quintessential drink of southerners in the U.S, but the rest of the country has developed a taste for the […]

Blog post

Circle K’s Use of Beacon Technology to Activate Car Wash Subscription Program

Beacon Technology and Car Wash Subscription Programs Beacon technology used in tandem with a customer-facing car wash subscription program revolutionizes the customer experience by providing a quick, convenient experience. Innovation is the key to continued growth and ensuring a frictionless customer experience should be top of mind for any retailer. Circle K’s vast global network […]

Blog post

Unlimited Car Washes!

Subscription programs for car washes are a hot trend in convenience retail.

Blog post

Car Wash Program Drives Sales for United Pacific

Car wash programs are revenue drivers for convenience stores and fueling stations around the globe. Making sure the process is convenient and cost-effective for customers increases traffic and drives in-store sales. Oftentimes, car wash units occupy a small corner of the lot and do not receive much attention. This is not the case for those […]

Blog post

Danish Railway Rewards Riders with DSB Plus

The Danish railway system, known as DSB, is going the distance to reward customers by partnering with convenience retailer 7-Eleven to deliver points towards food and coffee simply for riding the rails. Whether commuting or travelling longer distances, riders who join DSB Plus earn points whenever they travel within Denmark. DSB is an abbreviation for […]

Blog post

Subscriptions for the win!

Amazon Prime is, by nature, a subscription under the auspice of membership. Pay an annual fee, get 2-day shipping and exclusive deals. Amazon took it one level further with “Subscribe & Save” where you can get everyday – and not so everyday – items shipped to you on a regular schedule.  In the early days […]

Blog post

Customer Retention Program of Circle K Vietnam

As the first international convenience store brand to launch in Vietnam, Circle K has over a decade of expertise catering to the needs of the 96 million residents of this huge country, operating a network of over four hundred convenience stores each open 24 hours a day! So launching an outstanding customer retention program was […]

Blog post

Stinker Stores Named Best New Loyalty Program in the U.S.

        2021 Best New Loyalty Program  Stinker Stores’ new loyalty program offers multiple redemptions with a single scan and stands out with a gamification feature to keep customers engaged. This article is originally published on CStoreDecisions and written by Erin Del Conte | October 28, 2021 Stinker Stores, with 103 convenience stores across Idaho, […]

Liquid Barcodes

Put a rocket under your loyalty program

With our loyalty platform, we help design and operate world-class, tailor-made subscription and reward programs that make sure your customers always come back.

Book a Demo →

We are trusted by global brands.

Convenience retailers all over the world have engaged and rewarded consumers with our tailor-made loyalty programs.

To our case studies →

Liquid Barcodes
Liquid Barcodes
Liquid Barcodes
Liquid Barcodes

Convenience retailers all over the world have engaged and rewarded consumers with our tailor-made loyalty programs.

To our case studies →

Liquid Barcodes
Liquid Barcodes
Liquid Barcodes
Liquid Barcodes