Mobile POS & Personal Devices
In addition to QR codes, extending a restaurant’s POS to accommodate mobile, handheld staff devices and/or payments directly from guests’ personal devices is now essential.
“The allure of mobility has finally taken hold and now the organizations that have adapted their operations to embrace the changes aren’t looking back,” enthuses Malbec. “We see widespread adoptions at smaller brands where decisions around process changes are easier to identify and adopt, but it shouldn’t be long before major brands also take the plunge. The obstacles at the moment are environmental (meaning the restaurant needs reliable wi-fi from wall-to-wall), financial (the restaurant needs 2X for the number of servers to account for re-charging and inoperable units), and clearly operational, since organizations will need to change their SOPs to fully leverage the value of true server mobility.”
Tamy Duplantis, President of Return on Information, points out the wide demographic open to pay-at-the-table options. “We used to be concerned that only the younger, more tech-savvy customers would use a mobile device to order and pay. But since the majority of people not only own a cell phone but have learned to use it to find a restaurant via maps, scan a QR code to view a menu, and even use a mobile app to order food or groceries, restaurants can offer self-serve mobile options like pay-at-the-table with less concern that the customer base will not engage.”
Jim Balis, Chief Executive Officer, Sizzling Platter, notes the popularity of server handhelds. “We see better guest adoption of server handhelds than of QR codes. And tipping onscreen is now very popular with our guests. The benefit is there’s no processing step for the server, and no security/data risk — I wish people would communicate the security of it more.”
Li advises that mobile POS — whether handheld or on tabletops — must integrate smoothly into a full-service dining experience. “I would just want to make sure that my staff is still delivering hospitality as a full-service promise with mobile POS helping with the flow — and not in replacement of why I have a full-service, staff-driven restaurant.”
Critical Considerations and Next Steps
What other options may be ahead to meet restaurant guests “where they sit”? And what level of infrastructure is needed to support pay-at-the-table technology?
“I believe there is still value around beaconing and geo-location technology for in-restaurant and prospective customers nearby,” says Malbec. “Whether it’s a fresh batch of cookies that just came out of the oven or an intra-day special premium entrée, the ability to know who is nearby and can take advantage of a ‘now-offer’ can be a powerful sales tool.”
“When it comes to digital experiences at the table, the most common mistake full-service restaurants make is a failure to anticipate the impact of a congested internet connection on the customer experiences,” says Tim Tang, Director, Enterprise Solutions, Hughes. “The occasionally annoying slow internet everyone experiences at home absolutely destroys the brand experience at the table. When the consumer’s LTE connection is congested, they struggle with simple tasks like accessing QR-code menus. When the restaurant’s internet connection is faulty, the consumer becomes furious with repeated attempts at a credit card transaction that takes minutes to complete instead of seconds. To preserve an outstanding dining experience, restaurants must employ appropriate solutions, such as SDWAN and LTE backup, to maintain high application performance over congested internet connections.”