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TGI Friday’s makes room for future innovation with mobile POS

NEW YORK – A TGI Friday’s executive at the NRF 104th Annual Convention & Expo said that the restaurant chain prides itself in taking a different approach toward tablet integration in its locations in contrast to its competitors, such as Applebee’s, by placing tablets in the hands of servers rather than on tables.

At the “Transforming Retail with Mobility and Cloud” session during the NRF 104th Annual Convention & Expo, the TGI Friday’s executive discussed its recent innovation of equipping its servers with Microsoft tablets to revamp the customer experience, which the restaurant claims to be a more interactive and personal experience compared to tablets placed on dining tables. As dining guests become more open to mobile experiences, interaction can often be lost, but the right approach can enable a combination of technology and personalization.

“Friday’s really wanted to take a mobile-first approach to POS,” said Tripp Sessions, chief information officer at TGI Fridays. “Putting something on the table was not the way to go; it was not unique or ownable.

“We chose consumer-grade devices because we recognize how quickly the world is changing,” he said. “We didn’t want to wed a device that would be extinct in a year.”

In the sky
TGI Fridays began with one restaurant in Manhattan with a goal of creating a meaningful connection and has since expanded to more than 900 locations around the world.

The restaurant chain recently announced that it is equipping servers with Microsoft tablets to help make the customer experience more streamlined and convenient.

Along with Microsoft’s 8-inch tablets, the new Fridays Service Style technology, powered by Windows 8.1, will allow servers to carry tablets from table to table to take orders and respond promptly to guest requests. If the process performs well, the execution could represent a growing trend in multichannel experiences (see story).

From its start, TGI Fridays has aspired to be a social enterprise. It has since leveraged technology to create meaningful connections and make smart use of data to use precision and targeting to each guest.

The devices are consumer-grade and are equipped with coupon readers to drive TGI Friday’s rewards program.

TGI Friday’s chose Windows 8.1 to expand its tablet experience and fully expects to use the software for other capabilities, including using the camera to take selfies of guests.

“We were very specific about devices we chose,” Mr. Sessions said. “Windows as a platform is a great starting point to manage these devices.”

The Micros sleeve that enables barcode and mag stripe scanning functions will hopefully propel TGI Friday’s into the future of retail as EMV takes over.

Active on mobile
TGI Friday’s is a restaurant chain that has long involved its brand in mobile.

In 2013, TGI Friday’s aimed to bolster its mobile application usage by incorporating the medium into its new “Why Not” marketing campaign.

Through the initiative, the company looked to drive brand awareness and get consumers excited about its many offerings. Recently, TGI Friday’s rolled out a mobile application to better reach tech-savvy consumers (see story).

Also in 2013, TGI Fridays delved further in mobile advertising with an effort that highlighted a summer campaign to find the next big musical star.

According to TGI Fridays, the campaign’s use of mobile advertising built on the restaurant’s launch of its mobile app from the year prior. The company ran expandable mobile ads within Cosmopolitan’s mobile site (see story).

As TGI Friday’s embarks on a new adventure through its use of tablets,

“A lot of things you’d hope to see, we’re seeing,” Mr. Sessions said. “We’re speeding up the experience, and this execution has been a positive play for us all around.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York