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68pc of casual restaurant patrons prefer tablet transactions: report

When it comes to leaving a tip in a casual restaurant, 68 percent of customers would prefer to do so via an iPad, according to a new report from Software Advice.

Restaurants are installing tablets or at least looking at this as an option, because they want to improve the customer experience. Therefore, it is important to know what customers think about these experiences and how they want to interact with tablets.

“Restaurant marketers should be focusing on the streamlined customer experience that comes with these systems,” said Justin Guinn, market research associate at Software Advice. “They enable servers to take and send orders as well as complete the payment process all without leaving the table.

“It’s these features of this innovative technology that are making it easier and quicker for customers to both order and pay,” he said. “This is what marketers can point to. In fact, our data shows that the real driver for increasing tips with mobile POS systems is leveraging them in such a way to enhance the customer experience.”

Software Advice is a site where buyers compare mobile POS technology.

All about the customer
The report “Improving Patron Experiences and Increasing Tips With iPad POS Systems – Industry View” found that more than 50 percent of respondents say using an iPad to leave a tip at food and beverage establishments is “not at all difficult.”

Also, a combined 41 percent say close proximity to the server or cashier while entering a tip amount would “probably” or “definitely” increase their likelihood to tip.

Eighty-six percent of respondents with a preference prefer to use iPads to input tips themselves, rather than having the server or cashier do it for them, which also points to a possible advantage that Apple products have an advantage over other tablets.

Thirty-five percent of female respondents would tip more if the server or cashier input the tip for them, compared to only 19 percent of male respondents, and 29 percent of respondents say they would be more likely to leave a tip if required to press a “no tip” button to opt out of tipping. 

However, 86 percent of patrons do not want employees to input the gratuity for them.

Software Advice found that patrons prefer iPad tipping most in casual restaurants, 68 percent, followed by fast casuals, at 50 percent, fine dining, at 43 percent, and fast food, at 28 percent.

“Mobile is the future of the food industry,” Mr. Guinn said. “More and more restaurants are adopting mobile, tablet-based POS systems.

“Take for example Taco Bell’s new app,” he said. “It allows you to place and pay for your order ahead of time so that all you’re doing at the store is picking up your food.

“That’s just one of many ways that businesses can leverage mobile capabilities. At the same time on the consumer side, mobile payment options like Apple Pay and Google Wallet are enabling a truly revolutionary payment experience.

“This is really just scratching the surface too. I wouldn’t be surprised if, as this technology evolves, the payment process as we know it will become obsolete.”

Acting on it
Restaurant chains are giving mPOS systems a try.

For example, restaurant chain TGI Friday’s 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).

Shortly after TGI Friday’s announcement, 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 (see story).

Even though restaurants are going to approach mobile differently, it is most important that they give mobile a chance.

“In terms of the operational benefits that mobile POS software enables, the impact can be instrumental on any restaurant, coffee shop, or food truck for example,” Mr. Guinn said. “With mobile capabilities, quick at-the-table payments, and a large range of other features, we found that these capabilities are helping create much greater customer experiences, not to mention facilitating things to run a lot smoother for the businesses itself.

“We’re seeing that these system features are beneficial to tipping in that they enable servers to provide an overall better customer experience, and build stronger relationships with their patrons,” he said. “That’s where the lasting tips and the repeat customers will come from.”

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