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an image showing a qr code for table side ordering

What You Need To Know About Tableside Ordering at Restaurants

By Elsa Klein

If changes in customer preferences have taught us anything over the last few years, it is that restaurants should be prioritizing efficient, quick, and engaging experiences for their guests. Cutting down on wait times, bypassing lines at the front counter, and offering personalization are essential for quick-service brands who want to stay ahead in the market. Implementing a tableside ordering system could be the solution to help you tackle all these areas at once. 

Tableside ordering may rely on either staff taking orders through a handheld POS device, or on customers using their phones to scan a QR code and place their order. While there are benefits to both methods, QR codes typically offer the best efficiency and digital experience for guests. 

Here is how tableside ordering technology works in a nutshell – and why it is quickly becoming one of the most beneficial trends for businesses across the global restaurant industry.

What Are the Benefits?

To satisfy mounting customer demands, restaurants should focus on delivering convenience and speed – and they should make these changes as soon as possible to avoid falling behind. 

As TASK’s US Vice President of Business Development Trevor Dee explains, “The pandemic made one thing immediately clear to the entire restaurant industry – adapt quickly or die.” 

Implementing tableside ordering provides a more streamlined experience for customers. The guest benefits include:

  • Shorter wait times from start to finish at a restaurant
  • The control to set their own pace for ordering and paying
  • Fewer miscommunications and mistakes when ordering
  • Better personalization with interactive digital menus and mobile ordering platforms 
  • Payment security

With the popularization of minimal-contact and no-contact hospitality experiences since the pandemic, tableside ordering with a QR code also provides a safe, contactless experience from start to finish. 

The Value of Customer Loyalty and Retention

If your goal is to see higher customer lifetime values, then it’s important to turn your attention toward building loyalty and retention.

From a business perspective, tableside ordering unlocks huge potential when it comes to revenue growth. When customers order through digital channels – with the entire menu at their fingertips, – they are far more likely to include add-ons, beverages, and extra items. That means bigger average order sizes and better profits at the end of the day.

Tableside ordering also helps increase restaurants’ profitability, as customers are able to order without a staff member present. This allows businesses to optimize staff time, and also ensure lighting-speed order preparation. 

Using tableside ordering also benefits restaurant workflow and operations by:

  • Eliminating the need for printing
  • Automatically connecting orders to the kitchen 
  • Allowing for real-time menu engineering that reflects current stock and relevant special deals
  • Ensuring a frictionless ordering process with fewer mistakes

For restaurants who want to take their experience and their profits to the next level, tableside ordering is a surefire way to entice higher purchases from guests while also delivering them superior service.

Best Practices

Before jumping straight to the gold standard for tableside ordering, it is essential to consider how this piece of integrated technology will affect other processes and experiences in your restaurant.

As TASK’s President of North America John Laporte explains, “Every digital transition – while opening the door to something better – comes at a cost. Be aware of what you are breaking with this new development to ensure that you can compensate for that loss in a positive way with your customers.”

Take a look at some of the world’s most recognized restaurant brands that incorporate tableside ordering. From McDonald’s to Panera, the brands leading the industry have folded in advanced technology to bring their brand to life in the digital age and prioritize better, more efficient ordering experiences for their guests.

Cross-Train your staff to ensure fluidity during peak hours

While today’s customers are extremely well-versed in using digital devices and ordering platforms, it is important to remember that any change will require time to adjust. Cross-training your staff – so that they can work in multiple areas of the restaurant – allows for added flexibility, especially during your busiest hours.

What that means in practice is offering employees more opportunities to learn. When a rush hits, staff can move from order-taking to kitchen management, ensuring that no section falls behind the rest. Tableside ordering makes it possible to allow for this kind of flexibility behind the scenes.

Ensure consistent operations 

To make the most of a tableside ordering channel, it is important to leverage the tools you have available. That means updating menus consistently based on real-time inventory data to help reduce food waste. Customer data and tapping into the power of loyalty also carves out huge opportunities to upsell, personalize and drive larger order sizes. 

Why Your Restaurant Needs an Inventory Management System

Here are a few key benefits of taking on technology to manage inventory, and best practices to make the most from these tools.

Identify the best fit for your brand

There are a few different types of tableside ordering devices. Some restaurants work better using handheld devices that staff bring to different tables, while other brands find that a self-service device at the table offers better efficiency. With the rise of customer-led experiences, many restaurants are finding success with QR code table ordering methods as well.

Choosing the right device and system for your business is crucial to making tableside ordering work effectively for your restaurant. Trevor says this is where adding a technology partner can make a huge difference for restaurants. He explains, “Every hospitality brand is unique, and so there is not one piece of tech that’s going to satisfy everyone. Our job at TASK is to help businesses figure out what the right solution is for their particular needs and goals.”

Invest in a Robust Platform 

Choosing the right tools to support your tableside ordering goals is what will help set your system up for success in the long run. Before signing on to a new platform, start by asking these questions about its operations and capabilities:

  • Does it facilitate a device-agnostic POS facility?
  • Does it effectively integrate across your entire technology stack?
  • Can you engineer the menu in real-time?
  • Does it facilitate seamless management of orders across multiple channels?
  • How will it help you leverage loyalty and personalization?

A top-of-the-line tableside ordering system should help you leverage loyalty, drive higher sales, and improve your workflow. Consider investing in a single-solution technology stack to make the most of every piece of technology and integrate your data across all platforms and devices. 

For restaurants that aim to stay ahead of the curve, then using integrated, data-driven technology is the best way to improve guest experiences, optimize restaurant operations, and ensure profitable growth.

Tableside ordering is a highly valuable tool for hospitality businesses to speed up service while also maintaining great customer service. To leverage this technology to its full potential, choose a technology provider that can offer an integrated stack to reflect your unique brand.