What Consumers Want from Tablets in Restaurants

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As the adoption of self-service POS systems increases across the U.S., consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with ordering, paying, and playing on devices that require little guidance from the server.

Software Advice, a restaurant tech research group, recently released a report surveying the self-service POS landscape to learn what consumers like and dislike about them in restaurants. 

Overall, consumers prefer this technology in casual restaurants above any other segment, and in particular for customizing orders (47 percent), splitting the bill (39 percent), using multiple payment types (31 percent) and viewing images of menu items (26 percent).

"The overall takeaway for both casual- and fine-dining segments is to really tailor your self-service technology to your restaurant," says point-of-sale market researcher Justin Guinn at Software Advice. He says self-service technology offers multiple opportunities in casual dining, such as allowing users to build their own meals on a tablet with a highly customizable menu.

The ease with which customers split bills and pay at the table make self-service technologies a smart investment for restaurant operators, the report suggests. Some devices also offer a tip calculator that guests indicated they appreciate.

While less than 10 percent of respondents say they'd prefer self-order or self-pay services at fine-dining restaurants, 51 percent of fine-dining operators plan to devote more resources to self-service, according to the report. Again, Guinn says the opportunities are ripe for an operator who understands how to adopt the technology to his fine-dining establishment, where service often matters most to guests.

"If patrons are going to a fine-dining restaurant and spending more money, they may want to know more details about the food or wine that they're purchasing," he explains. "An interactive wine list is a great example of this technology in use. This is a great way for customers to learn more about wine offerings and pairings. 

"It would really offer restaurant operators a completely unique venue to market their wines," he adds. "The same could be said as well with craft beer and craft cocktails."

Unsurprisingly, the 18-to-34 age group showed a greater preference for self-ordering (71 percent), followed by respondents aged 35 to 54 (57 percent), and trailed by those 55 and older (34 percent).

The implications that, before restaurant operators integrate a self-service POS system, they be fully aware of their target age demographics.

"No matter the angle, the technology should be used as a server assistant," Guinn says. "Restaurant operators should enable interaction between customers and the technology in such a way that it frees up servers to focus more on ensuring a great experience for every guest."

By Sonya Chudgar

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