Computers vs. People: Touch Screen Ordering

In a recent long layover at the Minnesota airport I ventured with a friend to a restaurant where as soon as we sat, an iPad awaited our order. It first asked us to swipe our card, and then we together navigated through it to order a drink, followed by dinner. For the most part it was easy. A physical server brought us our food, upon dropping it off he asked if we needed anything and disappeared. As we closed out, we wondered a little bit about the tip amount since service was minimal, but we decided what we were comfortable with and went on to board our flight.

The experience was unique and different, and it really got the wheels turning on this new technology in the restaurant industry. I found myself making a list of pros and cons, and wondering what the rest of the world thought about this shift in service. On one hand, the no fuss do-it-yourself method was right up my type-A alley, but on the other hand I really began to question the idea of seeing a face and talking to someone who knew the establishment and its food. What if I couldn’t decide between two dishes and wanted my foolproof way of selecting the best one by asking the staff? Questions such as these are what consumers are pondering with this new type of technology in the dining arena.

The National Restaurant Association recently released information at their Restaurant Innovation Summit that “half of consumers 18-34 have used a computer to order food or make reser vations.” The research also reported a majority of those interested in takeout would prefer ordering from a tablet touchscreen. It’s inevitable that food establishments will see technology increase in the industry, and the time is now to understand what it can mean for business.The verdict, however, is still out with only a handful of restaurants implementing this option into their establishments. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and the cons.

Technology is here to stay and it fits right into the major industry shifts of instant gratification, customization and creating unique experiences.There’s a good, bad and even ugly to every new implementation of technology into business, and knowing that is the best way to be prepared when taking a leap of faith to implement it. As for me, I look forward to the next experience with mobile ordering in a restaurant, as the verdict is still out on the preference of people versus computers.

Have you recently added tablets and/or touch screen technologies into your business? We want to hear from you on the experience! Visit us on our Facebook and Twitter pages or email•••