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Frames Café taps paper-based beacons to streamline ordering

Tokyo’s Frames Café is leveraging sheet-type beacons from Teijin Limited, which claims to offer the first surface-based authentication solution to support a multilingual ordering system.

Teijin recently rolled out PaperBeacon to help restaurants easily incorporate beacon technology into their infrastructure and streamline the food ordering process for foreign consumers. As beacons start permeating the food and beverage industry, it is likely that restaurant marketers will be on the prowl for less cumbersome versions of the technology.

“Everyone wants to skip lines if possible,” said Jon Squire, CEO and founder of CardFree, San Francisco. “Anything that shortens the wait and allows the customer to engage in his or her dining experience efficiently will drive both adoption and frequency.

“Our customers also see ticket size growing by an average of 30 percent when they allow customers to self-service via mobile. Consumers love to customize their orders without inline pressure and pay/go when they are ready.”

Targeting more customers
Teijin’s PaperBeacon is well-poised to offer restaurateurs an even wider consumer outreach. Frames Café, the restaurant currently leveraging the technology, has combined PaperBeacon with a multilingual ordering system called Putmenu to better connect with international customers and ensure that guests do not pass up a visit due to language barriers.

Consumers interesting in dining at Frames Café may download a dedicated mobile application, which features menus written in up to ten different languages. Users must then select their language of choice and input their orders before placing their smartphone on the PaperBeacon.

That action will prompt the beacon to submit the orders, as well as the customers’ table numbers, to the restaurant kitchen via Bluetooth. Frames Café chefs will have the order printed out in Japanese so that it can be immediately fulfilled.

Consequently, Teijin believes the platform will allow restaurants to better cater to non-Japanese guests and ensure order accuracy. Frames Café – and other dining establishments that opt to use PaperBeacons – will no longer need to worry about hiring multilingual employees, since the ordering system will automatically translate customers’ requests into Japanese.

It also helps streamline the workload for staffers, which results in greater efficiency.

PaperBeacon taps a wireless transmitter powered by Bluetooth Low Energy to send a unique identifier as well as positional information to smartphones. Signals are received by the two-way sheet, similar to that of an NFC card, to verify authentication and positioning of any iOS or Android devices placed on top.

Teijin plans to steadily expand PaperBeacon rollouts ahead of the 2020 Olympics games in Tokyo, signaling its dedication to providing streamlined dining experiences for the myriad of international athletes set to descend upon the Japanese capital.

More commerce opportunities
Beacon technology has already penetrated the retail industry and is set to revolutionize the restaurant industry as we know it (see story). It offers a gateway to a plethora of commerce opportunities, which include easier dispersal of coupons and targeted offers designed to fuel in-store traffic.

Coupons are quickly growing as a significant component of beacon-enabled proximity marketing thanks to strong redemption rates, with brands and retailers forecast to deliver 1.6 billion coupons a year by 2020, according to a report from Juniper Research (see story).

However, restaurants may find that beacons provide additional value when leveraged to help simplify the ordering process. International dining chains could be the first to follow in Teijin’s footsteps when it comes to creating a technology in the vein of PaperBeacon.

“We will see this deployed in several important verticals, including restaurants, big box, grocery and convenience,” Mr. Squire said. “Within the restaurant vertical, we are already working with QSR’s and fast-casuals for not only ordering, but real-time offers, loyalty and payment.

“Panera has a similar technology deployed and once a customer experiences this refined flow, they only want more.”