Restaurants Make the Move to Tableside POS

By Tammy Mastroberte, Contributing Editor | May 06, 2014

Mobile point of sale is entering an adoption curve, as restaurants make the shift from wait-and-see to deployment. According to HT’s 2014 Restaurant Technology Study, tableside ordering and payment devices are the single largest growth area in full service restaurants, with a third of respondents planning a rollout by the end of next year. Vendors are rolling out new solutions — including those that are mounted at the table and those that servers carry — that allow for mobile payment, faster table turns, upselling and more.

Upselling is a significant benefit for Genghis Grill (www.genghisgrill.com), which has boosted sales by as much as 27 percent since rolling out tablets 18 months ago. “The tabletop unit becomes like a billboard with high-res images of desserts and appetizers, and we also advertise our LTOs,” says Ron Parikh, CMO for the Dallas-based chain. With 110 locations in 23 states, Genghis Grill is using E la Carte’s (www.elacarte.com) Presto tabletop tablet and has set a sales goal of 30 percent growth based on upselling.

The device integrates with the chain’s Aloha POS software (www.ncr.com) and customers can order custom stir-fry entrees directly from the device, along with appetizers, desserts, alcohol and more, and they can also pay for the meal and have the receipt emailed to them.

The chain also uses the Presto tablet to sign up new loyalty members. In the past they offered paper forms, which were mailed to headquarters, scanned and entered manually. Now customers can sign up from the table electronically and information is directly routed to the loyalty system. The signup rate has increased 60 percent as a result, according to Parikh.

Speed, service and security
Efficiency is another big benefit of using a tableside POS, saving time on orders, and allowing staff in a fine-dining restaurant to spend more time with guests. At El Monumento (www.elmonumentogeorgetown.com), a 7,770-square-foot Mexican restaurant in Georgetown, Texas, the outdoor dining area doesn’t support traditional terminals and the staff is currently using 24 NCR Orderman (www.orderman.com) handhelds running Aloha software both inside and outside the restaurant.

“We opened in October 2012 and have used the handhelds from the beginning,” explains Rusty Winkstein, owner of El Monumento and Monument Café, which is also using the handhelds. “Our guest orders get into the kitchen faster, saving between five and 10 minutes on ticket time, and it allows our team to get the food out quicker.”

Florida-based Carmel Café & Wine bar (www.carmelcafe.com), with six locations, offers an Apple iPad (www.apple.com)
at every table for guests to order using a MenuPad (www.menupad.com) app. This enables wait staff to manage more tables, according to Terry Ryan, president and
co-founder.
 
“Most guests are amazed at how fast the food comes out,” he says. “There’s no interruption of getting that food order to the kitchen. It’s immediate…servers can manage more tables with an iPad and provide a higher level of customer service, enabling them to earn more tips. It’s a win-win for guests, employees and the restaurant.”

Whether mounted to the table or via a waiter with a handheld, payment is made more secure with a mobile unit to the extent that the credit card never leaves the customer’s possession. At Genghis Grill, customers can use the Presto device to split the bill and pay with multiple credit cards.

“Our operating partner in Denver is seeing 90 to 95 percent of customers at lunch paying with the Presto, and four people paying with four cards can do it right at the table and don’t have to wait,” Parikh explains. “The process is a lot quicker.”
Bolt Burgers (www.boltburgers.com) in Washington, D.C. is a fast-casual restaurant offering customers the option of either ordering at a cashier, using a kiosk or taking a MICROS (www.micros.com) mTablet to their table to place their order and pay.

“If they order from the mTablet, they give their table number and the food runner will bring their food to the table for them,” says Mike Davidson, owner of Bolt Burgers.

The mTablet has a built-in device allowing customers to pay with their credit card, and the receipts print at the greeter station. Once the payment is complete, the greeter will bring the receipt to the table and take back the mobile device for another customer to use.

“We have 10 devices right now, and they are a little larger than an iPad,” Davidson notes. “The biggest benefits are during the busy lunch hour where customers don’t have to negotiate lines. They can be seated, order immediately and pay right from the table.”

He was also surprised at the number of people choosing to use the mTablet over the kiosk or the cashier, even when there is no line, and compared it to those who choose self-checkout at a grocery store even when there is not a line at a cashier.
“Many prefer to do it themselves, and many young people find it faster,” he notes. “The mTablet is built so if you have an iPhone or iPad, it’s very easy to figure out how to use. We have a lot more people using them than we expected.”

The durability & battery life bonus
When using a mobile or tabletop device in a restaurant, durability and a long battery life are key features to consider. The device should not only be resistant to food and drink spills, but also should be able to handle any accidental drops.
“The Presto is wireless, and we have had kids drop them while playing games, but they are very rugged. We have not seen any major damage,” says Parikh. “Also, as long as we charge it overnight we don’t have any issues with the battery.” E la Carte designed the Presto for restaurant industry use with a 20-plus hour battery life.

The NCR Orderman is also built for the restaurant space and according to Winkstein it can be completely submerged underwater without damage. “We have dropped them without a problem, and they recharge in a flash,” he says. “When business slows down we put them in the cradle to charge, and then they are ready to go again when it picks back up.”    

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