How often have you ordered dinner from a harried waiter or waitress who mixed up your request? Tablets can be used to take the guesswork (and work) out of restaurant ordering and place control in the hands of diners.
Most tablets on the market can be set up to perform these tasks with custom apps. A great example of this is from the start-up E la Carte. About a year ago, they launched a 7-inch Linux-based tablet customized for restaurants.
Diners are able to order from a digital menu, view pictures of the dishes, pull up nutritional information and pay via a built-in card reader on the tablet. Equipped with games, it can also help keep fussy children occupied while they wait.
Restaurants using the device are seeing a 10 percent increase on average on checks. Table turn time has also improved, so busy restaurants can move people more quickly through the dining experience and reduce wait time for waiting customers.
Tablets are also being used to simplify take-out and delivery. GrubHub, an online food ordering and delivery service with 13,000 restaurant subscribers, is rolling out a new tablet app called OrderHub that allows restaurants to manage orders they get through GrubHub. Previously, the company enabled orders to be faxed and confirmed by the restaurant through an automated phone service. Adding tablet technology helps restaurant managers streamline the online ordering process.
Although some diners may want the personal interaction that comes with talking to a server, restaurants seem to be warming up to the productivity and efficiency that mobile devices bring. It’s only a matter of time before ordering and paying through mobile devices is commonplace. Just recently, TGI Fridays restaurants began accepting payments via Android and iOS smartphones. It stands to reason that an app for tablets will follow.
IT considerations for tablet deployment
If you’re looking at deploying tablets in your restaurant, I recommend you look for devices that are compatible with restaurant point-of-sale software, durable enough to survive the hustle and bustle, spilled drinks, and greasy fingers of diners, and have a long battery life.
The portability of tablets makes them a natural fit for the restaurant industry, but also more susceptible to theft. Restaurants need to identify ways to protect them, for example, by deploying anti-theft and remote-management technologies. (Read my post on securing business tablets for further advice.)
To help merchants, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, a global industry standards body recently issued a fact sheet outlining how merchants can accept payments securely using mobile devices. I elaborated on this in a recent post on how tablets are being used as mobile point-of-sale systems in retail. Restaurant owners will have many of those same payment security considerations.
What’s your take on restaurants using tablets for ordering and payment? When you dine out, would you prefer to order from a person or place an order via tablet? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Gartner predicts that 80% of businesses will support a tablet-toting workforce by 2013. Are you ready? Get a better grasp of how your IT organization can empower knowledge workers, increase the efficiency of remote customer service teams, and enable field sales professionals to deepen customer relationships in this practical guide to tablets in the workplace.