The restaurant industry is perhaps one of the toughest markets in terms of competition. Literally on every street corner, there is a restaurant vying for business. Food trends are fickle at best and diners are always on the search for something new to keep them interested. Technology has always been a part of the restaurant industry. Whether it’s the POS system the waiters use, or the inventory system the chefs use for keeping track of costs and supplies, technology is integral to the food service industry. The latest trend in the industry is using the iPad in various formats. Taking a closer look at how the technology is being used can give you insight into the future of this technology.
The iPad Will Not Replace Waiters
One of the big concerns for those in the food industry is that iPads will replace waiters altogether. This is not going to happen. For there to be no waiters, the customers would be expected to pick up their own food, or for food runners to have a lot more responsibility. Neither of these options is viable. A survey conducted at a restaurant in Miami reports that guests expect a human waiter and will not settle for anything less, according to the Miami Herald. So, technology definitely changes the duties of waiters greatly, but does not eliminate the need for them altogether. Currently, iPads are being used in many locations to replace the paper menus and to help with pairing wines with a meal. While this encroaches on the job of the sommelier, it is more intended for locations without a sommelier or to help heighten the wine knowledge every guest can enjoy. Waiters are no longer expected to be a sommelier-light.
Ordering through the iPad
Some locations are tying in the iPad with the POS system, allowing guests to place their orders right from their tables. This is done not only at higher end restaurants, but at chain restaurants as well. The iPad is affixed to an iPad stand, like the ones from Shopify, and they’re put on the table for diners to place their order through. Once the order has been placed, the kitchen staff starts preparing the food. Using the iPad in this manner has been attributed to increasing the accuracy of orders, according to USA Today. This is because rather than the order being open for interpretation, the diners can see exactly what they ordered on the screen. There is no way to claim they didn’t understand what was being ordered, because the order is right there for them to review whenever they want. In some restaurants, the waiter will come out to confirm the order with the diners, just as an added layer of precision. As diners still become accustomed to placing their orders through the iPad, assistance from the waiters is being utilized to teach the diners how it works.
Paying at the Table
Many diners complain about the length of time it takes to get the check and pay it. You may be done with your meal, but you’re completely at the mercy of the waiter and his or her attentiveness. If you’re in a hurry, you may even be inclined to chase down the waiter to get the check. Thanks to having an iPad on the table, you don’t have to do this any longer. Some restaurants have taken the extra step of adding a card reader to the iPad, according to Slate. This allows you to simply slide your card, pay your bill and be on your way. While the addition of a receipt printer is not readily available, the receipt can be emailed to the diner and it can be signed for on the screen for security. This cuts down on the time it takes to turn over a table and increases the happiness of the patrons.
Entice Customers to Buy More
Restaurants are in the business of making money, so it’s no surprise that restaurant owners are happy about the fact iPads can help to increase the overall ticket price. The vivid pictures on the iPad screen make people apt to purchase more, according to BuzzTime. Rather than seeing a flat picture on a menu, the screen can show steam coming off hot food, or glistening chocolate sauce on a dessert. When you’re looking at the pictures and they’re changing throughout your meal, you may feel compelled to try something off of the dessert menu even if you’re full. It’s easier for diners to ignore a tempting dessert if they cannot see the dessert menu. The iPads also make it fun to order something. Kids and grownups alike delight in submitting an order and waiting for the food to be prepared. It is like a game, only with a check at the end of the game.