Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
Commentary
6/11/2014
09:35 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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Restaurants' Switch To Tablets Is Trouble

Tablets and self-service are the next big thing in restaurants. But is it a good idea?

Casual dining restaurants, including Chili's and Applebee's, will be rolling out new self-service kiosks using tablets in the next few months. The tablets will allow customers to order food, call their servers, and pay their checks without needing to interact with a human.

Preliminary tests show that such kiosks will improve revenue and table turnover while increasing customer satisfaction. But past experience with such kiosks in other industries is mixed, and restaurants should beware. Putting aside that it seems as if all this does is turn table service into fast food, CIOs looking to jump into this technology need to follow some rules to avoid major mistakes.

Before we talk about it, here is a home video of the menus in action:

As you can see, the tablets are interactive menus making use of a lot of images (though no video yet) to entice buyers into appetizers, drinks, and other "upsell" items. In addition, the tablets feature entertainment and a way to pay your bill. And we can only assume advertising will soon be on its way.

Clearly, this will eliminate some customer service problems common in restaurants. Who hasn't been ready to leave, then sat for 10 minutes waiting for the check? Who hasn't needed ketchup or a refill and suddenly the server is AWOL? Splitting checks and even figuring the tip is now easier as well.

And from the point of view of the restaurant there are obvious benefits including quicker turnover, more efficient use of staff (read: layoffs), better inventory management, better kitchen management, easier POS integration into other systems, and increased revenue opportunities via payments for game and ad placement and upselling.

Sounds like a win-win, and we've seen other success stories with kiosks like these, including ATMs and self check-in at airports. Airlines particularly have seen great savings from self check-in, reducing check-in costs to 5% of what they were before self-service.

Except there's a problem. We've also seen self-service that looked like a similar bargain turn out poorly for other industries, especially grocery stores. Self-service check-out in grocery stores is an especially good example, because they more closely resemble the transactions of a restaurant than an airline. An airline check-in is a straightforward, repeatable set of operations: identify guest, identify itinerary, offer upgrades, accept payment for extras, and direct the guest to security or to check bags.

In a grocery setting, the number and type of items is more complex. There are physical objects to be manipulated, coupons to be scanned, and sometimes physical money in the transaction. Similarly, with restaurants, the varying

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
12/1/2014 | 2:38:02 AM
Re: It will take time
@StaceyE yes, I could not agree more... but this day almost all of the Co. playing this game... and sad reality no one do really cares....
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
12/1/2014 | 2:36:30 AM
Re: It will take time
@StaceyE yes, but most stores in my area including Home Depot do not keep much inventory on hand... giving me option to order online and do pick in the store or home delivery... everyone trying to copy Amazon... - how I see it...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
12/1/2014 | 2:33:17 AM
Re: It will take time
@StaceyE I do not know, but many factors in play... but in china online stores keep growing as everyone getting in the bzz plus drop shipping idea...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
12/1/2014 | 2:21:08 AM
Re: It will take time
@StaceyE, yes but at the same time everyone wants latest and greatest... plus revision of the devices

let say PS vita 1 edition have a better screen resolution if compared to PS vita 2 edition... it like trading for skinny devices with less quality... but to each his own...  
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2014 | 11:39:36 AM
Re: It will take time
@ batye

Yes, many company's should get back to the basics. I think many times they know there is a problem with their product but just cross their fingers and hope no one else notices.
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2014 | 11:37:39 AM
Re: It will take time
@ batye

I don't think that traditional brick-and-mortar stores will ever completely disappear. There are too many people who still do not use the newest technology and there will always be items you cant wait for delivery for. For example, if my husband needs a 2 x 4 for a woodworking project he will drive to Home Depot and pick one up and be back home in less than an hour. There's no way he would want to wait two or three days for delivery.
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2014 | 11:34:53 AM
Re: It will take time
@ batye

I think company's should certainly make use of the internet to promote their products or services. But most of the time going from brick-and-mortar to completely virtual is a mistake.
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2014 | 11:33:01 AM
Re: It will take time
@ batye

It absolutely happens, and sadly company;s think if the product has a short life cycle then customers will come back for a new upgrade. Most of the time people will just look for a product that has a longer life cycle.
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
11/1/2014 | 3:05:58 AM
Re: It will take time
@StaceyE I would like to add this days no one wants get back to basics:

1. quality of product

2. good customer service

3. proper timely warranty service....

 

everyone only want to sell it and forget it...

take a look at the car industry...

recall after recall... and car manf. fail to update customers about recalls... - sad and scary as people do die... if the car fail during road trip ( as failty wire or even brake light...) sad... sad...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
11/1/2014 | 3:00:49 AM
Re: It will take time

 


@StaceyE last time I attended Microsoft and Intel seminars... everyone expect by 2020 not many brick & mortar store will be left... - new reality of new digital cloud future...
Page 1 / 12   >   >>
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