Tablets Replacing Paper Menu In Restaurants – Is This Trend Going To Work or Backfire?
Traditionally, restaurants had their food menu in paper. In the mobile revolution from 2004 to 2008 – many restaurants gave their waiters a mobile with custom app loaded in it for taking orders from customers. Now, Tablets are given to the customers for them to browse food menu and place order. This trend is in market from mid 2011 onwards (usecase discussions started as soon as the first iPad was released in 2010) and its gaining momentum now. Few companies that provide tablet menu service: POSLavu, TouchBistro, iPOS, SquareUp, eMenu, OwnPoint of Sale, Imenu, E Menu India, MenuPad, Deploid. Many hotels globally are adopting this trend.
Customers will be able to browse food menu and place order to kitchen. That’s the core functionality. But, the extended features would be:
- Customizing the food. Monteko of Stacked Restaurants says that 95% of diners customize their orders.
- The picture and detailed description of the food item will be shown. How many times you read a food item name and wondered “How does this item look?”
- Restaurants can engage the customers by offering lot of innovative features on tablet. Examples:
- Play a multi-player game with guests at other table in the restaurant.
- Get 5% discount off bill if you reach Level 15 in Angry Birds game. Condition: Charge a nominal fee for internet access.
- Ability for restaurants to do focussed campaigns and cross-selling to customer by knowing the customer buying pattern, interests, wishlist. Examples: System understands that John drinks only Strawberry shake. When there is a promotion running on Strawberry shake in future, say a Strawberry shake + Veg Pizza combo, the restaurant will let only John (and other interested customers) know about it than spamming the entire customer base.
- Maria is ordering Chicken Steak, immediately there is a popup that says “Coke takes best with Chicken Steak, add coke for only $5″.
- The display order of menu (in tablet) itself can be automated based on who the customer is. In above example, when John views the tablet menu, under the “Drinks & Beverages” section, the first item will be “Strawberry Shake” followed by other drink items. By this, lot of customer time will be saved.
- Near Field Communication (NFC) based payments. Customers no more have to flag the waiter for settling bills. Restaurants can increase their table turnaround time.
- Ability for Restaurant owners to do predictive analysis on the number of guests to expect and what food items (also quantity) they are likely to order.
There are many other features that can be thought of. Significantly high scope for innovation, we would stop here
With the introduction of Siri APIs in near future by Apple, the tablet menu market is again going to undergo massive change. We have already mentioned this in one of the earlier posts in Travopia.
All above points look sweet. But, there is other side to the coin. Demerits of this trend cannot be ignored. Few demerits that we see:
- Credit card security. Until and unless the transactions (bill payments) are PCI-DSS complaint, customer’s card is at stake.
- Extensive use of technology everywhere. Many customers come to the restaurants to relax and be void of technology, they are going to frown when they are presented with a tablet menu.
- Breakage. You drop the tablet on the floor by mistake and the screen breaks. What next? Who foots the bill?
- High Capex. Until and unless the restaurant is adopting a cheap android based tablet to implement tablet menu, the initial investment is going to be huge.
- Risk of replacing human with techno-machine. You ordered Chicken Soup, the order is sent to kitchen. Five minutes later, you want to change it to Veg Soup, how do you do in Tablet? (technically, its still possible to implement this workflow, practically very difficult).
- Theft of the tablet.
- The transactions and customer data (from tablet) should be integrated to the existing restaurant systems like POS, CRM etc which attracts additional cost and time.
Author: Karthick Prabu