Increase Efficiency with iPads in Gastronomy and Retail

I’ve been to Florida from mid-January to mid-February – and had to realise that Florida is a state of old people! Old people in the supermarket, at the cash, in the shopping malls – even the selection of stores and their clothes were adapted to old people, old people at the restaurants, old people at the bars… an extraordinary rate of old people compared to other places. This is also why my boyfriend an I had difficulties to find some attractions and things to do after 10pm. The place basically closed down at 10pm. In our desperation, we checked on Yelp what kind of places would still be open after 10pm (cause first you want to go for dinner and then have a nice drink somewhere else). We found “The World of Beers”! It was not so far away and sounded promising – open until 2am, yeah!

So, we went there and got a long beer menu. When we asked for a special type, the waiter left for a second and came back with an iPad – now, we were talking! 🙂 The mobile geek’s heart in me started beating faster. We got tech to play around with! The app (World of Beers) was one of many on the iPad and had a much broader beer selection. We found what we wanted. The waiter left the iPad with us so that we could look for more later.

The iPad came in a thick cover that also functioned as a stand. If “The World of Beers” now had an Enterprise Mobility solution, they could have also put this iPad into kiosk mode so that only the “World of Beers” app would have been displayed and could have been used. This would have prevented me from playing around and looking at the other apps.

When we went to “The World of Beers” a second time (yes, it kind of became “our pub”) then I realised something even more exciting. This app was available for download for the iPhone. Now, this is really cool as now everybody could already check what beer they wanted before coming to the bar or even while being there without the waiter needing to bring the iPad (they only had a couple and sometimes they weren’t charged). The app had something else that was really cool – it was able to connect the bar with its customers via a loyalty program. So, you can sign up and for drinking a certain number of drinks you are rewarded with a prize, for example a T-Shirt. This is great and a good example on how to get offline customers online and how to connect with them and learn about them. You can see what they like, with what frequency they come to the bar and you could even send them emails and notifications about special events. Really well done!

This also works for retail businesses. They’ve been around with loyalty cards and programs a bit longer. But nobody wants to carry cards (ok, there are apps to store all your cards). However, wouldn’t it be nice to look up a product in a store via an app and then just go there and have a sales person already ready and waiting for you with your selection? This way, businesses can bind their customers and also learn about them so that they can deliver a better service which increases their revenue.

Look at pharmacies, instead of just taking medication from a shelf and handing it over to an unknown person, they could connect to them via a loyalty card, an app, or even the payment details and be ready with their regular medication when they enter the door. I imagine this could come in handy for older people. I know they like to pay cash and don’t always use smartphones, but the process of using their cash card should not be too modern for them.

Let’s get back to the gastronomy industry. Close to the end of my stay in Florida, we went to another restaurant where the waitress also came with an iPad. I thought, I like this, America seems to be a bit farther embracing mobile devices in gastronomy than Europe. The waiter took our order and I imagine it went straight to the system. No more writing on paper and going to the kitchen to place the order.

Back in Berlin, my best friend and I went to the pub down the street. To my surprise, the waiter came to take the order – on his iPad!! 🙂

I asked him a couple of questions about it, like when did they introduce it and why and how they liked it.

He said, they wanted an app that is connected to the order system in the backend and that allows them to streamline processes and to split bills if people want to pay separately (very common in Germany). It was a test run and they weren’t so happy with the app. He said, it was very intuitive but once it crashed and then all data was lost (which was very fatal). So, they want to look for another app.

Some examples are:

  • orderbird (the one our pub had – hopefully they will fix the crashing)
  • Gastrofix (looks promising online, separate billing possible)
  • easyDeal (it does not look that stylish but got 4.5 stars on the App Store)

If you go to the App Store and type in one of the above in the search field, you will get lots of other suggestions.

I also remember a burger place in Cologne. They had iPad order systems integrated in the tables. So, you just press onto a “button” thats integrated in the table and then the iPad comes up. You are guided through the order process and when you click “finished” then the order is placed in the system. In the next step, the food is delivered to the table.

The advantages of such a system are:

  • Time savings as customers don’t need to wait for a waiter and the waiters can concentrate on bringing the food instead of taking the orders
  • More efficiency in making the food as orders from several tables can be processed simultaneously
  • Reduction of mistakes through hand writing, wrong orders etc.
  • Better control of what’s ordered and therefore better merchandise planning

In summary, we can see that some businesses in gastronomy have already adopted the use of iPads and how they benefit from it. We’ve seen 3 different use cases:

  1. Using the iPad as an efficient order system for waiters
  2. Connecting business and customers – from offline and anonymous customers to online and known customers
  3. Making the order process more efficient by having the customers order themselves

The two last ones can also be applied for retail businesses. Imagine a catalogue in a store displayed on an iPad. The customer can select a product and get it delivered by the sales person (ex. perfumery).

We also talked about one more scenario that only indirectly has to do with the use cases above:

  • Anticipating purchases by pre-selection of goods in an app or through payment information (ex. pharmacy)

I’m excited to see how more businesses in gastronomy and retail will adopt mobile devices in the future and hope that I could deliver some interesting use cases.

Have a great day!

LittleMsMobile



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