The National Restaurant Association’s 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast, released Tuesday, reinforces customers' hunger for more tableside technology. More than half of consumers surveyed for the report said they would use tableside electronic payment options at tableservice restaurants and another 44 percent said they would use a tableside ordering system. In addition, more than half of restaurant operators reported planning to devote more resources to customer-facing technology in 2013.
One tableside payment device is the Viableware RAIL system, a digital billfold left at the table for the customer to use at his or her convenience. With this technology, the customer's card never leaves the table, ameliorating fears of card skimming or other security issues. The technology also allows customers to easily divide up the bill, saving time and giving peace-of-mind, and then immediately email a receipt to the customer. A printed copy is also an option.
RAIL is working its way into the California market, with San Francisco-based Joie de Vivie hotel chain debuting it in the city's Hotel Vitale, and will soon be featured in the company's other restaurants.
Employees equipped with smartphones or other mobile devices can also make use of Heartland Payment System's Mobuyle system, which attaches to any number of wireless-ready items. This creates a cost-effective way to run a customer's card immediately at the table, still allowing the security and transparency gained by an all-in-one system. Similarly, Square, a small device that plugs into the headphone jack of any idevice or android-equipped smartphone or tablet, is a convenient and inexpensive way to accept immediate payment. While the device is marketed for use in any number of businesses, many smaller operators are attracted to the free equipment cost and flat 2.75 percent per swipe rate.
As interconnectivity with wireless and smart devices continues, the traditional card-reading device near a cash register becomes more outmoded. Many devices also are beginning to market instant surveying while paying the bill, giving operators real-time feedback on their restaurants.