Mobile Tableside ordering is now enjoying new prominence in the contactless digital arsenal of restaurant brands. 

Why is this?

Vaccines are rapidly changing negative public perceptions of the current restaurant environment. 

Operators are looking to increase their bottom line by enticing guests back to the traditional in-store dining experience. 

Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, customers demand no-touch solutions. Restaurant brands have been forced to completely reevaluate their digital client-facing offerings. 

Digital direct ordering via devices such as desktop, mobile, tablet, kiosk, etc. has come a long way. Online ordering became essential, removed from tech-stack “perk” status. 

CMOs no longer had to sit on their wish-lists in board meetings with CEOs. Pocketbooks opened. In other words, leadership finally embraced the technologies marketing directors had been yelling about for years.  

And sadly, it took a deadly pandemic to do it.

Quick Service Restaurants already have brand-specific apps. They have optimal drive-thru and take-out capabilities. The QSRs very quickly adopted other contactless digital solutions to enhance sales. 

But let’s face it, when checking out industry technology adoption lifecycle data, most restaurants were not innovators but laggards. Operators have been using the outdated technologies for decades. 

Full-service restaurants, armed with dine-in and no digital solutions, took a catastrophic hit. Mom & pop single locations also suffered, having neither the clientele nor the means. 

According to the recent industry performance report from MarginEdge, a key point from sales and operational data from 200 restaurants in 47 states was the survival of Fast Casuals —  due to contactless digital technology. 

Fast Casuals stayed alive through technology. Digital apps that promoted contactless direct ordering, curbside pickup, dispatch/delivery, and now, tableside.

Restaurant brands have changed in the past year. Adapt or become extinct is the rule. There are no more sanctuaries within the food industry. Therefore, the lingering effects of the virus remain a concern.

Although many have suffered because of the pandemic, the coronavirus has quickened the pace of digital ordering technologies. 

Why Are Digital Apps So Important?

Coronavirus Ordering 101:  That which once was is no more. 

Digital applications that provide quick remote ordering with easy checkout, delivery and curbside pickup is the new standard. However, if your restaurant does not provide these capabilities to guests, you are in a world of hurt. 

The virus has provided some hard lessons. Guests now seek digital solutions that promote contactless ordering experiences. It’s about safety and convenience. Above all, patrons are receptive because they know what is at stake.

Consumers expect contactless technologies that work. Ordering should be effortless, and checkout a virtual snap.  Similarly, no one has the time for apps that require you read a ten page report to order food.

Your brand’s ordering app must be user friendly. If it has technical issues and delivers a lousy ordering experience, for instance, your brand will also end up in the doghouse.

There is a lot of competition out there. If you don’t provide a good solution, then users will rapidly move on to someone who will.  However, you’ve got about five seconds to make a digital impression that leads a user to complete a sale. 

What Tableside Web Ordering & What Does It Do?

Firstly, safety considerations for restaurant guests and staff are now paramount. 

Secondly, removing as much human interaction as possible has been and still is the main goal. 

Thirdly, Guests want a return to normalcy. They want to patronize their favorite restaurants again.  Operators are seeking a way to draw those customers back into the restaurant. Brands want to provide a great experience but also ensure a no-touch journey, from ordering to payment to checkout.

Mobile tableside ordering allows guests to safely enjoy dine-in by emphasizing and supporting the in-store experience. Using a smartphone, customers can open the brand’s tableside app, peruse the menu, order, pay and checkout. This is without having to physically hold menus, interact with servers, touch pens & receipts, or pass credit cards back and forth. 

In conclusion, This is why tableside is so important.  

Guests simply scan a QR Code at their table to access tableside web ordering. Customers don’t need to download anything – it works in their browser. Guests can then use tableside in-store to order, check & redeem loyalty points, pay, purchase gift cards, reorder in-store, get to-go, curbside pickup, etc. That being said, all from the comfort and safety of their table with the ease and security of their smartphone.

For restaurant brands, mobile tableside web ordering increases efficiency while reducing friction. This allows staff to focus on preparing food and maintaining a clean environment. This further promotes the safety of socially distanced interactions.  

Tableside ordering works exactly like a traditional ordering experience.  Restaurant brands are able to integrate all third-party providers such as their ordering, loyalty, delivery, payment, gift cards, coupons, etc.  Orders come in from their provider to the POS paid for. A printer or kitchen display system details the food for preparation. 

Tableside ordering scans a locational QR Code. Guests are assigned a table number or location area in-store. The completed order is brought out to them. There is no mess, no bother, and more importantly, enhanced individual health protection.

Tableside ordering is not a funky QR Code scan that leads to an ancient menu. It’s not a blurry pdf.  You don’t have to scrunch your eyes into a tiny slit to view on your smartphone.

Mobile tableside web ordering is a real instance. It seamlessly integrates ordering, payment, and loyalty into a singular digital entity that has all the bells and whistles, in-store.

The Best of Both Worlds

A notable thing about tableside ordering is the ability to build out the experience.

Restaurant develop functionality and feature sets according to the needs of their brand. 

Mobile tableside ordering is not one-size-fits-all white label junk. They don’t come with static functionality and a pitiful array of features. 

Smart brands possess tableside ordering that is custom to their brand. This enables guests to leverage all the special attributes specific to the restaurant.

This is in addition to a large degree of personalization. Most QR Code platforms draw up moldy old menus. These still require intimate ordering interactions with servers and the bother of physical payment and tipping.

What Else Can Mobile Tableside Ordering Do?

Tableside ordering is developed as a singular mobile instance or added to existing digital solutions.

They expand ordering flows with dynamic pricing and upsells. 

Geolocation enables guest tracking. Servers find customers when orders are placed at the bar, then move to a table, patio, etc.  A “call server” function is always good to have. Guests simply click a button and restaurant staff bring whatever is needed.

If there are multiple guests at a table, they can all join a group order using their own digital devices. They can pay individually, or have one member of the party take care of the check using their digital device.

Orders can remain open while guests are within the restaurant. Beverages and other food additions can be added to the mobile tableside order without opening multiple tickets.

Alcoholic drinks can be ordered using mobile tableside. Pop-up notifications to have IDs ready for servers or even a scan feature for authorization is possible. Data remains within the system. 

Tableside ordering can remember past orders, credit card information, coupon application, and loyalty redemptions. In other words, this helps to facilitate reordering for guests. 

Order throttling can also be added to help the kitchen determine firing and cooking order. Guests can plan the length of their meal based upon item preparation times. Guests can select when they want their appetizers, main course, dessert, etc. using their smartphone.  They can do this seated at their table, or a different area within the restaurant.

What if special menu items change hourly or daily? Or pricing needs to update from happy hour to the dinner service? Tableside ordering can support these features. So, this makes day-to-day operations smoother for the staff while creating a much better experience for the guest.

And the mobile tableside ordering list goes on. It’s a new digital world and your success depends upon how you use the technologies that are available.

Mobile tableside creates a totally contactless digital ordering experience while completely promoting the restaurant dine-in experience. 

What Other Factors Are Popularizing the Rise of Tableside Ordering?

The Innovators already have mobile tableside, and the Early Adopters are in the process of securing mobile tableside.

Where does your brand fall in the current Technology Adoption Lifecycle?

Tableside ordering allows patrons to dine-in with contactless convenience and safety. Vaccines created a rise in overall immunity factors. In addition, restaurant brands understand that there is a vast customer base waiting to be tapped for in-store dining.

It is all about bringing customers back into the restaurant to increase operational revenue. Similarly, this is the true key to winning the war. This is the best argument for investment in digital technologies – they expand profit margins.

What Is At Stake For Restaurant Brands?

Monetary survival. Not every restaurant is McDonald’s. Every dollar is important. 

The pandemic has impacted the industry for over a year now. Within the first few months, the financial repercussions were evident:

MarginEdge reported that “Restaurants experienced a 66 percent drop in sales by March 22, 2020. This was when most of the country was under a strict lockdown. The S&P fell 28 percent between February 19 and March 25, whereas the economy contracted at a pace of 31.4 percent in the second quarter, the worst the government has seen since record keeping began.”

Early last year, this had defined current restaurant economics. In addition, proper planning and a smart allocation of resources is pivotal. Above all, understanding industry requirements with relation to environmental factors in order to sustain operations.

The National Restaurant Association 2021 State of the Industry Report outlined key findings, stating “Restaurant and foodservice industry sales fell by $240 billion in 2020 from an expected level of $899 billion,” and “as of December 1, 2020, more than 110,000 eating and drinking places were closed for business temporarily, or for good.”

How Can Tableside Ordering Help My Brand Win?

Coronavirus Ordering 101:  To win, you need to know how to win. 

During the depths of COVID-19 and up to today, former in-store, dine-in revenues have been cannibalized. The extra-costly pandemic middleman = the third-party delivery service. 

The MarginEdge report stated third-party delivery once accounted for about 7 percent of restaurant sales. For example, now it amounts to nearly one-third of all sales. Their determination: “We expect the long term impacts of this type of revenue sharing to be unsustainable.”

The current scenario for those restaurants with no digital ordering app presence is miserable. 

“When food is not ordered on premise, third-party delivery companies want a share of the sale. This is for configuring the logistics of getting the food to the customer.  Eater cites these delivery ‘partners’ often charge 20 to 30 percent of the sale, which is painful to restaurants who already operate on thin margins,” MarginEdge summarized.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) State of the Industry Report said the dispatch/delivery issue doesn’t seem likely to change. 

“Delivery has become part of people’s routines. 53 percent of consumers say delivery is essential to the way they live.”

That percentage is a huge chunk of business, and restaurants are losing millions of dollars in revenue paid to third-party delivery & dispatch services.

The NRA report states that pent-up guest demand remains high. “There is no doubt consumers are ready to return to restaurants. 6 in 10 adults say restaurants are an integral part of their social fabric. Restaurants are an essential part of their lifestyle.”

The NRA study found that “88 percent of adults want to return to restaurants. 85 percent say going to a restaurant with family or friends is preferable to dining at home.”

This data illustrates the dichotomy. The expense of remote delivery and the need to draw that huge market back into the dine-in restaurant experience.

Bringing guests back into the brand fold is the focus of every CMO right now. This is precisely why brands ahead of the curve are moving toward mobile tableside ordering.

“Our research shows a clear consumer desire to enjoy restaurants on-premises more than they have been able to do during the pandemic,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior VP, Research and Knowledge Group, National Restaurant Association. 

“We’ve also found that as the vaccine becomes more available, consumers will continue to desire a return to restaurant in-store dining going forward,” said Riehle.

“With more than half of adults saying that restaurants are an essential part of their lifestyle, we are confident that the industry is positioned for successful recovery.”