The pandemic has reshaped the habits of customers for good. One of the most visible effects is the rising popularity of table ordering – instead of a waiter approaching the table, the customer places the order using his or her phone instead.
Using digital channels is commonly associated with NOT going to a restaurant, which is not always the case. At least 67% of customers say that being able to order food online makes them go to a restaurant more often.
Online ordering, on the other hand, only provides the food, with little to no way to replicate the entire in-person dining experience. Table ordering is essentially the link that connects the best of both worlds.
What is table ordering?
Table ordering is basically giving the customer the ability to order food using his or her mobile device, usually a smartphone, while sitting in the restaurant. The order is placed while the customer sits at the table, either in the dining room or outside, in the garden.
With this method, the waiter only has to serve the food after it has been made in the kitchen. He or she doesn’t have to go up to the table and take orders.
The most common way to do this is to put a QR code in a place where customers can see it, usually on the table. Yet there are multiple tech and non-tech ways to do so, including NFC tags, beacons, and codes that the customer needs to enter when placing an order to have the meal delivered directly. Initially, this paradigm was invented to support understaffed companies in providing high-class service.
This approach comes with multiple benefits, especially in the post-COVID, more digitized, and contactless era.
Benefits of table ordering
One of the key elements of the customer experience in a restaurant is the waiting time. According to icmi.com, modern customers don’t like to wait, with 25% claiming to abandon the queue or service when having to wait more than two minutes. If the time is longer than five minutes, the percentage of dropouts increases to 73%.
Table ordering enables one to just place the order right after sitting at the table. But there are more benefits to think about:
According to the Deloitte study, up to 60% of diners prefer to place an order digitally, using mobile technologies. For many users, ordering food after the COVID-19 pandemic has become more digital, with 60% of US consumers claiming to do that at least once a week.
Traditional ordering requires one to wait for the waiter, which limits the time to choose and increases the risks of miscommunication. When using a tabletop ordering system (or an online ordering system), these risks are mitigated.
Improves the experience
As mentioned above, table ordering is basically an online order with the customer being placed in the restaurant. Considering that, the company has access to much more information about the visitor than when he or she comes to the physical location.
The Deloitte study finds that 60% of guests who have good experiences with a restaurant would dine there more often, and 39% added that positive experiences encourage them to spend more money.
The app (or an account on the restaurant website) stores the information about the ordering person, so it can offer the most relevant products, discounts for favorites, or promotions available to members of loyalty programs only. As a result, the experience is far superior to that provided by the waiter who encounters the nearly anonymous visitor.
Can be personalized
As mentioned above, the table ordering process is done via the app. By doing so, the company gets access to much more data than when the customer approaches the waiter in a traditional way. The app stores the customer’s purchasing history and preferences, allowing the restaurant to tailor the offer to his or her preferences.
This comes as a great convenience not only for the restaurants, but also for the consumers. According to the State of Personalization 2022 report, 49% of consumers are likely to become repeat buyers when being served with a personalized experience.
For example, if a user declares that they are vegan, the app may adjust the menu to prioritize vegan meals and beverages. Also, if the user would rather get discounts for beverages than meals, the app can automatically tailor the promotion to fit his or her needs.
Contrary to the traditional paper menu and the waiter who asks about the chosen meal, the table ordering feature is fully connected with the rest of the company’s digital systems. This allows it to collect data and deliver automations just like the other digital channels.
Also, it can be updated and changed as easily as digital channels. This makes it easy to make a quick promotion, a limited-time offer, or a quick change to the menu when a key ingredient is out of stock.
Can be end-to-end including payments
The waiter who collects the order later needs to bring the food. But it is not the end of his or her work—there is also the need to collect payment for the meal, either using the terminal or collecting cash.
The data collected by Appetize shows that 77% of guests want to use contactless payments after the pandemic.
The table ordering system cuts out unnecessary work by providing the customer with the ability to pay using a digital payment system, be it PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, or a similar technology. Apart from reducing the waiter’s workload, the company also provides a better experience for the customer. One needs to wait neither for collection of the order nor for payment—a major improvement for a fast-casual restaurant.
The access to all the features developed for e-commerce and used to optimize conversions, as well as the ability to use high-quality media, is a huge sales booster for the company, especially if the only way to get some more information about the offer was to read a piece of paper or an on-wall menu.
The upsell is an important technique that can be a rocket fuel for the company. According to the HubSpot data, for 72% of people who upsell and 74% of people who cross-sell, these practices drive up to 30% of their revenue.
Reduces the workload
Last but not least, the company reduces the amount of work the staff has to do. This allows employees to focus on other tasks that can be beneficial for the company, be it keeping the locale clean, preparing the meals, or contacting customers who actually need and ask for the service.
Examples of table ordering approaches
Online ordering systems such as Ordering Stack make it simple to deliver table ordering systems. There are three popular methods for implementing this feature in the workplace:
For this method to work, the restaurant needs to print the QR code and put it somewhere visible, like on the table. When the user scans the code, they are taken to a landing page where they can place the order. If a user has a mobile app installed, they can use all the other features, such as payment and discounts.
Mobile app and table number
Some restaurants can just use the table number the user enters in the mobile app. The number is later used by the staff to deliver the order. This approach may require the user to pay for the order before delivery to avoid pranksters.
How to implement table ordering in your company
Implementing the table ordering system in the company can be either a challenge, or a nearly no brainer. Everything depends on the level of the digitalization of the restaurant processes. If there is a fully implemented digital ordering system like Ordering Stack, adding the table ordering is literally two clicks away.
Yet if the company operates in a non-digital way and wishes to implement a table ordering to enrich the offer and smoothen the operations, there are at least three steps to consider:
Implement a novel POS system
Table ordering system is in fact a narrowed version of a table ordering system. Considering that, the first step to implement it is to use a digital-ready POS system. Capturing the order in the POS system is the first step to make the process effective – without that, pressing the order would be done manually in fact. So nothing would change and no gains would be achieved.
Choose an online ordering system
As mentioned above, the table ordering system is a narrowed and simplified online ordering system. Thus, one just needs to choose one. This is a tough choice. The systems vary depending on the pricing, number of features, flexibility, and the access to the support. Ordering Stack is a great example of the system that can be modified and shaped according to the company’s will.
Also, implementing the table ordering system can be a first step toward building the fully online ordering system – the key difference is in the logistics.
Pick a reliable tech partner
Last but not least – it is technically possible to implement the table ordering system using only in-house capabilities. But is it wise to do so?
The restaurant owner is good at running the restaurant – not in coding, integrating the tech solutions and implementing them to deliver results. Considering that, one should find the company skilled enough to implement the table ordering system and get the warranty of the proper working of the whole sophisticated system.
Table ordering systems are another way to make the ordering process smooth, seamless, and effective in the post-covid world. Yet, considering the sophistication of the system, the key is to find a reliable and trustworthy partner to implement this technology.
If you wish to talk more about this challenge, don’t hesitate to contact us now!