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3 ways tablets are heating up in the restaurant industry

Tablet technology is growing fast. The mobile device gadgets have become popular among everyday consumers, but as of late, the technology is cooking up some changes in the restaurant industry. 

Bloomberg Business™ recently reported fast-casual restaurant chain Chili'sTM has deployed 45,000 tablets in its more than 1,200 nationwide locations in 2014 after testing out a 200-store pilot program in 2013 (1). Diners can order food and drink from the tableside tablets, as well as pay for their bill and even play games while they're waiting for their food. 

The tablets have found success. Tablet manufacturer Ziosk™ released figures that showed a 15 percent increase on tips, a 20 percent hike on both dessert and appetizer sales as well, Bloomberg™ added. 

In addition to increased revenue, tablets are improving the dining experience in many other ways. Here are three benefits tableside tablets bring local restaurants:

  1. A seamless dining experience: The digital age has created a nearly seamless experience for almost everything consumers do. Whether it's making a mobile payment, shopping online or now using cutting-edge technology like Apple Pay to complete a transaction, customers are used to an easy buying experience. Tablets in restaurants fill that void by empowering the diner to make their own decisions about food and drink as well as eliminating wait time for the final bill. It's a hassle-free experience from the moment they are seated.
  2. Real-time dining: Tablets are a source of entertainment in the restaurant industry. Not only are they highly interactive, they also offer games and ways to distract patrons while they are waiting for their food to arrive. They are also an opportunity for restaurants to gather valuable customer information in the form a quick survey, for instance. While customers are reluctant to share personal information at times, they may be more apt to do so if it's on their own terms, especially if the exchange is tied to some type of reward, contest or discount. Tablets are a portal to gathering real-time and accurate diner information, which can provide insight into eating and purchasing habits and paint a clearer customer profile.
  3. Improved employee engagement: One of the most challenging aspects of the hospitality industry is how to use the feedback when it arrives. According to Chief Customer Officer at Empathica™ Gary Edwards, tablets can help mitigate this challenge through data visualization strategies (2). These can present data and feedback in a meaningful way that motivates staff, he suggests. Tablets have the flexibility in reporting and data collection to provide relevant reports to frontline staff, which could motivate them in a worthwhile manner. What's more, tablets' easy-to-use ordering system helps alleviate the amount of back-and-forth work servers have to complete each shift. With ordering and paying the bill eliminated from a server's duties, they can focus more on attending to more dining-related needs of the patron. 

1. Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2013-09-17/that-digital-tablet-on-the-restaurant-table-will-make-you-spend-more (Sept, 17, 2013)

2. Empathica, www.empathica.com/what-are-the-best-practices-for-setting-up-running-a-program-blog/seven-ways-tablets-are-changing-restaurant-customer-experience/ (May 28, 2014)

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