How did you get your coffee this morning? Did you use your Starbucks app to Mobile Order & Pay or opt for the antiquated stand in line method?
There's not much you can't do on your phone these days.
With apps like Timesheet Mobile, food service personnel are not only using mobile devices to report for work, they are now utilizing them at work. Given the growing popularity of electronic ordering devices, the pad and pen may be on a permanent break. According to Greg Buzek, President of retail and hospitality advisory firm, IHL Group, “One of the biggest areas of delay is the time it takes servers to write everything down,” he says. “Then, as they go to get the order into the system, they meet another customer along the way who needs a drink refill and another customer who needs his bill and, before you know it, it's 10 minutes before the order is actually put in.” Handheld ordering devices, tableside touch-screens and in-app meal selection are all meant to speed up the process and cater to the convenience economy.
Building customer loyalty with geofencing technology
Before they can dazzle (or confuse) patrons with all of their hi-tech gadgets, restaurants must first fill the seats. In seeking a solution, business owners are slowly starting to adopt location-based technologies to find customers, target "regulars" and offer tempting deals when they are in the area. With consumers out and about and often glued to their phones, having a discount or special–from a nearby restaurant–pop up on the screen may be an effective means of instant gratification. Just as Timesheet Mobile uses GPS geofencing to track employee locations, so too can restaurants draw a virtual circle around selected areas. Location-based technology is an exciting prospect for restaurant owners, but it can tricky. There are several factors to consider when implementing this technology.
Human interaction is the still the wildcard in this era of automation. Does having your favorite restaurant know where you are and what you like flatter you or freak you out? Will your Five Star restaurant start to feel more like a drive-thru window or will automating part of the process free up your server's time to talk wine pairings and chef specialities? With a full plate of options, consumers will ultimately vote with their dollars, determining the fate of these techie time-savers and foodie-finders.