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Mobile & More

Today’s Technology On The Go

4 Ways Restaurants Should Use QR Codes March 8, 2012 Article by Hamilton Chan Despite criticism, the QR code continues to be a major player in the evolution of mobile commerce. But while many Fortune 500 advertisers may have embraced the QR code in their marketing efforts, the restaurant industry has proven a relatively late adopter of the technology. When used to power speedier transactions and provide timely information, the QR code is a useful tool for restaurateurs seeking to augment the customer experience. On takeout menus, dine-in menus and real world advertising, the QR code has a purposeful place in the restaurant experience. As any supporter of QR codes, near field communication (NFC) chips, or augmented reality will tell you, the key is the destination, not the mode of transportation. It doesn’t matter if information is delivered with zero friction, if the information itself isn’t wanted, it won’t pay off. Are QR codes just a marketing fad, or can the mobile technology deliver real value for restaurants and consumers at the right place and at the right time? Here are four ways QR codes can be effectively leveraged in a restaurant environment to improve the overall dining experience.

QR Codes add an interactive element to historically static menus.

3. Different Restaurants, Different QR Code Applications The QR code can be utilized effectively by a variety of different restaurant types, from fine dining to casual, from fast food to food trucks. A fine dining establishment might wish to use the QR code in a city guide advertisement, which leads to its online reservations system and photos of the interior of the restaurant.

1. Mobile Ordering

A fast food restaurant could add the QR code to a table tent ad, leading to a special promotion in exchange for an email address.

Ordering food from a smartphone is incredibly convenient. It is sub-optimal to have to speak to a live person who is juggling multiple roles in a restaurant, dealing with customers face-to-face and handling several ringing phone lines.

And food trucks could affix a QR code to the side of the vehicle to help people skip the line, should they wish to order and pay through their smartphones.

Enter the QR-coded takeout menu. Restaurants realize that the printed takeout menu is still one of the most effective ways to elicit food orders. It’s tangible, colorful, holds a lot of information and is easily shared. Adding a QR code to the menu triggers a mobile ordering experience. That way, restaurants can marry the best of old and new technology and make the traditional takeout menu digitally interactive.

4. A Word About Aesthetics

Or prompt a customer to complete a takeout order online, at which point she’ll receive a custom-generated QR code to be scanned at the point-of-sale. The Melt handles orders by generating QR codes that help consumers skip the ordering line.

2. Links to Photos and Social Media Ever stare at a text-based menu and wonder what a particular dish actually looks like? A QR code strategically placed on a dine-in menu has the ability to take consumers to additional information. The QR code could lead to photos with dish names, to the restaurant’s Yelp listing, or to Twitter and Facebook links to encourage social media sharing.

A common objection to QR codes is that they are ugly and unbefitting of a nicely designed marketing strategy. It is true that the standard out-of-the-box QR code isn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing, but brands can improve the appearance with clever design tricks that ensure scanability and beauty. By going with a custom-designed QR code, restaurants can represent their style, while also reassuring customers that the restaurant has put some thought into the experience. As consumer smartphone adoption continues to surge, QR code usage is becoming more sophisticated. In particular, QR codes are transforming from a mere advertising hook to an integral part of mobile infrastructure. From boarding passes to takeout menus, the QR code is becoming less novelty and more utility. One challenge for restaurants is always staying fresh in the minds of consumers. The restaurant that embraces mobile technology intelligently will demonstrate its cutting-edge commitment to excellent user experience and customer service.

On takeout menus and any real world advertising, the QR code can trigger links to a wealth of useful information. In this manner, the code is not a marketing gimmick, but a bona fide mechanism to provide interested parties with information on which they can act. The mobile landing page launched by the QR code on a takeout menu could include hours, contact information, a map and directions. Special offers and feedback forms could also be part of the mobile-optimized experience. Additionally, most QR readers have a history tab that logs previously visited sites, so the information, once scanned, could be referenced later. At The Melt, customers can order online and generate unique QR codes that allow them to skip the ordering line once they arrive at the restaurant.

5 Tips for Getting Started with QR Codes When it comes to using new technologies in restaurants, few operators experiment more than BJ Emerson, vice president of technology for 55-unit Tasti D-Lite, and Joe Sorge, chief executive of Milwaukee-based Hospitality Democracy, owner of five restaurant concepts. Just as they did with Twitter and Foursquare when those platforms emerged as useful tools for restaurant marketing, Emerson and Sorge continue to tinker with QR codes while also taking the time to teach their guests how to use them. They hope that their willingness to experiment and educate ultimately leads to greater adoption of QR codes and whatever technology comes next. The two operators shared some tips for trying out QR codes with Nation’s Restaurant News:

1. Consume before you produce. “To anyone doing QR codes, I would say, No. 1, be a user,” Emerson said. “Get a QR code reader and just start scanning some codes so you can see how it works.” Dozens of code readers are available for free at the iTunes and Android app stores for downloading onto smart phones, and several QR code generators can be found online for free. For restaurateurs looking for QR codes to scan, a recent report by researcher comScore found that most codes are scanned at home in magazines and brochures, so go check the mailbox.

2. Invest in mobile-friendly sites. Emerson suggested that any websites linked to a QR code be mobile-friendly and not run on Flash. A standard website not optimized for mobile will still work, he said, but the one-touch navigation of a mobile-friendly site is likely to keep users engaged longer. Also, since Apple iPhones are the most popular smart phone — and don’t support Flash — it makes sense not to use that platform.

3. Give them somewhere to land. Sorge points to a recent QR code he scanned at an outdoor festival in Milwaukee as a sign of how far merchants have to go in understanding the new tactic. He picked up a brochure from a booth, scanned its QR code, and was taken to a mobile Web page that was identical to the brochure in his hand. Sept. 22, 2011 Article by Mark Brandau

“They didn’t understand the idea of providing unique, different content that must be tailored for mobile,” he said. It’s important not only to send users to an interesting landing page with a QR code, but also to call those users to some kind of action. That most definitely is the case when trying to leverage a restaurant brand’s Facebook or Twitter profiles with QR codes. “Do you want people to like your [Facebook] fan page [when they scan your code]?” Sorge said. “Think about which page you want them to land on: your pictures or your wall.”

4. Use short and trackable URLs. The fewer characters it takes to make up a website’s URL, the less data there is cluttering the actual QR code that gets generated, so using a short address like a link is best, Sorge said. “I’d go to a URL shortener that can track the analytics,” Emerson said. “I can tell what types of information users are looking for, and then I can get more granular and produce more QR codes around that type of information.”

5. Create added value for scanning. Sorge said he built a following at his flagship concept, AJ Bombers, by promoting the restaurant on Twitter and Foursquare and rewarding people who tweeted and checked in the most. QR codes have the same potential, he said. “Any technology becomes more prevalent the more it’s used, and you have control over that as the restaurant or bar,” he said. “The more you reward people for using QR codes, the more eager they are to use them.” At AJ Bombers in Milwaukee, Sorge routed users to his photo blog The Burger Whisperer when they scanned QR codes placed in the restaurant. Once on the photo blog, they could see pictures of secret menu items, which they could order by showing their server. At the newly opened AJ Bombers location in Madison, Wis., Sorge is offering people access to a superfast 4-G data network available from the restaurant’s router when they scan QR codes in the building. The landing page is the user’s Twitter profile with a preloaded tweet reading, “I just got upgraded to 4G @AJBombers,” which extends the restaurant’s brand to the user’s network.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Mobile Marketing for Restaurants April 4, 2012 Article by Sara Petersen Smartphones are becoming increasingly popular, and more traffic to your website is coming from these mobile devices. It’s extremely important to keep up with the ways your customers are acquiring their information so you don’t get lost in the shuffle. Here are some of the best (and worst) ways to implement those necessary mobile marketing strategies for your restaurant.

Do Create a Separate Mobile Website from your Desktop Website: There are currently more than one million Smartphone users in America and 30 percent of all the traffic to your website will be from a mobile device. Every single one of these users wants to easily view your website from their mobile devices. The best mobile websites have quick loading speeds, large text, important information that is easy-to-find, images optimized for mobile devices and mobile-friendly features like click-to-call.

List Your Restaurant in Review Sites such as Yelp and Foursquare: Improve your restaurant’s reputation by encouraging reviews and check-ins. More content on your review site means more traffic, which means more customers. Reward those loyal customers who are the “Mayor” or “Best Customer” on Foursquare with exclusive coupons or free product. The happier you keep your customers, the better the reviews.

Provide a Mobile-Friendly Menu: Thirty eight percent of Smartphone users look at a restaurant’s menu before deciding where to dine. Beat out your competitors and generate more take-out orders by offering a mobilefriendly menu on your mobile website. Things to think about when creating a mobile-friendly menu include accessibility, length and layout. Keep your menu accessible by having the link to the menu at the top of the webpage. Keep your menu short and sweet with the most popular dishes and house specials. Lastly, organize your menu into sections that allow your customers to easily surf for their intended dish.

Don’t Use Flash Player: Websites that use Flash Player load slowly. If a website takes too long to load, your customer will more than likely grow impatient and go to another website. [Also, Flash videos or animations will not load properly on any of Apple’s popular iDevices such as iPads and iPhones and Flash content cannot be pinned on].

Ignore Feedback from Any Customer: If customers don’t have wonderful experiences at your restaurant and they share those experiences—you have an opportunity and an obligation to your business and customers to redeem yourself. Respond to these negative reviews, apologize for the poor experience, take measures to fix the issues and invite them back. If you can provide an incentive, that customer will more than likely recant their review. Don’t neglect the positive reviews, either. Thank them for their patronage and review, and invite them back.

Waste your customer’s time: Your customers are impatient. They want information now. Don’t infuriate your customers with slow loading speeds, small text on your website or make them dig for the information they want like your phone number, menu or address. The easier you make it for your customers to access your restaurant on their mobile devices, the more likely they are to become patrons.

Use Opt-In Email and Text Coupons: Coupons are back—in fact 42 percent of customers want to receive specials and coupons sent to their phones through email or text messages. The best way to create a mobile email and text marketing list is to display a QR code on table tents, print ads in the store and on menus that direct them to your sign-up page. Short codes, such as “text ABC to 123,” will enable any mobile device to receive these deals—even if the consumer has a feature phone instead of a Smartphone. These alerts will only increase traffic to your restaurant.

Sara Petersen is the Content and Marketing Manager for Punch Mobile Marketing. Her public relations background and devotion to technology, social media and the foodie movement makes her an expert in mobile marketing for restaurants. Visit to read more of Sara's articles about mobile marketing for restaurants.

8 Tips for More Effective E-mail Marketing April 11, 2012

Article by Nicole Merrett

1. Subject Line is Key First impressions are critical in any form of communication. When people receive an email, the first thing they see is the subject line, which has the potential to either gain or lose their interest. Subject lines that include your company’s name and provide specifics supporting your email topic will typically gain higher open rates.

Social media monitoring is one easy way to listen to and engage your readers. Use these insights to create valuable email content.

7. Test Everything

Would you be more likely to open an email sent from advertising or People don’t want to feel like they are receiving an automated email. If readers don’t see you putting time into personalizing the “from” address, they won’t spend time considering what you have to say.

Test the way your email appears and test all links in your message to make sure they work. Also test your graphics. Pictures are a great way to grab someone’s attention, but pictures don’t always show up in email messages, so test the effectiveness of your email by viewing them in an email client with images turned off and making sure your message remains easy to understand and the call-to-action clear. Finally, test your email with a spam check tool before sending. Spam check services review email content to see what might get caught in spam filters.

3. Mail Merge

8. And Test Some More with A/B Testing

People love seeing their own name. It makes them feel the email was written to them personally and not sent to recipient #432. Online services have simple options to directly insert names from your contact database using a template editor.

Your email has passed all the tests, but is not getting the open rates you expected. How come? There are many factors to consider, including time of day, day of week, frequency, message, etc.

2. Pay Attention to Who It’s “From”

4. Variety Consistency is essential with any marketing campaign, yet variety is equally important. Be conscious about how many emails you send out each week or month and how individuals are interacting with your emails. Are you following up accordingly and are you engaging the people that seem uninterested? Some email services include clickthrough analytics that monitor which readers spend time with your emails or forward them along to colleagues.

5. Quality Over Quantity It’s far more important to send out content-rich emails than it is to send out long or multiple emails. When you provide your contacts with quality content, they’re more inclined to read your emails and even forward them to friends. Gain the trust of your contacts by emphasizing quality of communication over quantity. One option is providing information they can use immediately.

6. Content Suggestions How can you personalize your message content? Listen to the people who take time to contact you because they are most likely to become customers. Study their emails, questions, likes and dislikes.

Consider testing one change at a time. Split up your list and send each set the same email on different days. Does the open rate stand out more on one day than another? A next step could be to determine the time of a day people are more willing to open and interact with your email. A good starting point is the start of the day and middle of the afternoon. Studies have shown these are the best times of day to send emails. See if your tests concur. Also test what subject lines gain the highest response. Do your recipients react more to graphics or text? Consider the placement of your call to action. Is one position more effective than another? Do your recipients appreciate lengthy, informational emails or do they prefer a quick read? Test each element one at a time. With email marketing you never need to settle for one formula because you will often have the flexibility to make improvements as you go. So be aware of trends and technology in your digital marketing programs and take advantage of them. They will help you achieve more tangible results with your campaigns. Nicole Merrett is vice president of CRM marketing for Sage North America, a supplier of business management software and services for small and midsized businesses.

Smart Receipts Point-of-sale paper can market to guests with customized info, special offers January 23, 2012 Article by James Scarpa The sales receipt is no longer merely a transactional record. Increasingly, it is a potent marketing tool, as well. By marrying receipt marketing software with point-of-sale systems, operators have found an effective way to deliver a range of information intended to engage customers, build traffic or highlight special menu items — all on a slip of paper that once was quickly relegated to the circular file. “Smart” receipts can sport, along with sales data, nutrition information, or targeted, trackable coupons designed to boost traffic during less-busy dayparts or draw attention to select promotional items. Some operators, such as Anthony Pigliacampo, founding partner of the three-unit fast-casual Modmarket concept, say they prefer the low-key style of receipt marketing to other, more overt methods of in-store marketing. “If you put down table tents, everybody ignores them,” he said. “If you put signs on the wall, you look like a cheese-ball fast-food place. I don’t want giant posters of food in the stores. We have a really modern aesthetic, more like Apple Store than Applebee’s.” Officials at Modmarket, whose units are located in Denver and Boulder, Colo., originally envisioned receipt marketing as a way to bring guests nutritional data. But the traffic boost provided by handing out 10-percent-off, next-day receipt coupons was a welcome surprise, Pigliacampo said, adding that such coupons have an average redemption rate of about 15 percent. “With every other type of coupon we have done, if we got a 1-percent redemption rate, we would be doing a backflip,” said Pigliacampo. There’s also room on the double-sided receipts for pithy messages like, “Our pizza dough contains eight whole grains and is made from scratch every day.” Each sale at Silvergreens, a two-unit fast-casual chain based in Santa Barbara, Calif., that uses the SmartReceipt system, yields a receipt printed with the calories, fat, fiber, protein and percentage of total

Receipts at Modmarket offer coupons and special offers, as well as health information, listing calories, fat, protein and other dietary values in a customer’s order.

recommended daily dietary values of the food order. If a patron modifies a menu item — such as holding the cheese on the burger — the receipt automatically reflects the revised nutrition counts of the order. Silvergreens receipts also offer guests a discount for returning sooner than they otherwise might or for dining during a different daypart. Typically, the offer period begins the next day and is valid for seven or 14 days. A lunch or dinner customer may be beckoned back for breakfast with a price-off coupon, for example, or offered a free strawberry lemonade or an order of hand-cut fries on the next trip, if they make a minimum purchase. “We are always testing new ideas or promoting new menu items to get people to try them,” said Lenka Keston, Silvergreens’ director of marketing and business development. “It usually works really well because it is right there in their face — ‘Wow, that’s a cool coupon.’” During the holidays, Modmarket offered on its receipts a free $20 gift card to patrons who bought $100 worth of gift cards, increasing card sales by 200 percent over the prior year, Pigliacampo said. Another hit gambit is the “golden ticket,” a receipt good for a free $25 meal that the software randomly prints out every couple of days for a customer who spends at least $40. “Those people love Modmarket and tell others about us,” Pigliacampo said.

100 Million Americans Now Own Smartphones March 6, 2012

Article by Todd Wasserman

For the first time, more than 100 million Americans have smartphones, according to a report by research firm comScore MobileLens. The smartphone category exceeded that figure in January, the report said, estimating that the exact number was 101.3 million, a 13% jump since October. Despite that milestone, smartphones are still in the minority. About 234 million Americans over the age of 13 used cellphones in January, meaning that the penetration for smartphones in the U.S. is around 43.3%. As has been the current trend, both Google and Apple’s share of the smartphone market grew at RIM’s expense. Google’s Android

platform now claims 48.6% of the market and Apple’s iOS has 29.5%, a jump of 2.3% and 1.3%, respectively, over October. RIM’s share is now 15.2%, a 2% drop. Microsoft’s share also fell 1% to 4.4%. The report also found that texting is still the most popular mobile activity. Some 74.6% of cellphone owners texted in January. The next most popular activity was using a downloaded app (48.6%) and a browser (48.5%.) ComScore’s figures, which are based on a survey of 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers, are at odds with a recent report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That report showed that smartphone owners actually outnumbered basic phone owners 46% to 41%. (The other 13% didn’t have a cellphone.)

18-34 Year Olds are now ‘Generation C’ February 23, 2012 Article by Zoe Fox

It’s hardly news that young adults are the most digitally connected, but now Nielsen has come up with a new name for this group based on their common behaviors: “Generation C.” The C stands for “connected,” and the group comprises Americans between 18 and 34 — who are defined by their digital connectivity, Nielsen and NM Incite’s U.S. Digital Consumer Report says. They consume media, socialize and share experiences through devices more than other age groups. The most recent U.S. Census finds 18- to 24-year-olds make up 23% of the population. Yet they watch 27% of online videos, constitute 27% of visitors to social networking sites, own 33% of tablets and use 39% of smartphones. When it comes to watching TV, they are exactly in proportion with their ratio of the population, representing 23% of TV viewers.

“Their ownership and use of connected devices makes them incredibly unique consumers, representing both a challenge and opportunity for marketers and content providers alike,” Nielsen writes. “Generation C is engaging in new ways and there are more touch points for marketers to reach them.” The below graphic visualizes different Nielsen numbers on American media consumption. Some stand out figures from the graphs show that tablets are the only device that men own in higher numbers than women and that whites use more tech devices than blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.

The Square Register app lets merchants process credit cards and ring up sales.

Mobile Credit Card Readers Grow March 21, 2012 Article by Joel Mathis If you popped into Betty’s Speakeasy, a cupcake shop in Philadelphia, last Saturday, then you probably saw co-owner Dylan Snow taking pictures of pastries using an iPad. After years of doing retail business with traditional machines—a cash register and a card-swipe reader to process customer credit cards—Betty’s is doing away with both and replacing them with an iPad.

While most of the card-reader services can be used on a variety of mobile platforms, Apple’s iOS devices have led the way—due both to their “cool factor” and, according to users, their simple sturdiness. And they point out that if the hardware does have a problem, it’s quicker and cheaper to go buy a new iPad than it is to wait for a delivery from a business-supply warehouse.

While the iPad, loaded with the new Square Register app, offers a number of business-friendly features, Snow is happiest that the app replaces his traditional card-processing service, which charged both a monthly fee as well as a cut of transactions—the rate of which varied depending on the type of card used. Instead, Square just takes a 2.75-percent cut of every transaction swiped through the iPad— a reduction in expenses for Betty’s that means bigger profits.

“We needed more reliable hardware,” said Snow at Betty’s Speakeasy, “and that was the iPad.”

“Right now we’re paying $69 a month in merchant services to swipe credit cards,” Snow said. “We won’t pay that with Square. [The new iPad] pays for itself very quickly.”

Intuit GoPayment: This service offers two tiers—a free service that charges merchants a 2.7-percent fee for each swiped transaction, or a $13-a-month service for high-volume users, which drops the transaction fee to 1.7 percent. (That’s if you use the card reader; you can key in a credit card number via your iOS device’s touchscreen, but Intuit charges a higher fee for those transactions.) Intuit also offers integration with its QuickBooks small-business software, which might ease a merchant’s paperwork hassles. Vendors are promised access to their money within two to three days of the transaction.

Such stories are behind the growing market for iPhone- and iPad-based card-swiping systems like those offered by Square. PayPal recently announced that it is launching its own card reader and app for iOS; it joins a sector that also includes big players like VeriFone’s Payware and Intuit’s GoPayment. (That list doesn’t even include Google Wallet, which is currently compatible with only the Nexus S 4G Android phone.) Turns out there’s big business in catering to small businesses and independent vendors like food trucks and farmer’s market vendors. “The target market for these products are small businesses who otherwise would be cash-only,” said Denée Carrington, an analyst with Forrester Research, adding: “Merchants can now capture revenue that previously could have been missed altogether if the consumer didn’t have cash.”

Buying an iPhone or an iPad is the easy part, though. How do merchants choose between services? All provide a free app and a free card-reader to attach to your iPhone and iPad. But there are some differences.

VeriFone Payware: Like Intuit, there are two tiers of service here: The free version charges a 2.75-percent fee for each card swipe; a $10-monthly service lowers that rate to 1.95 percent. (VeriFone’s site includes a calculator to help merchants decide which option makes the most financial sense.) The company also promises iPhoneenhanced security for disputed payments by geotagging every sale made off-premises with the latitude and longitude of its location.

PayPal Here: No tiers here; PayPal will simply charge a 2.7-percent fee per swiped transaction. The company is attempting to entice merchants with access to PayPal’s existing customer base of more than 100 million people who already use the company for online financial transactions, along with the promise of round-the-clock tech support—and immediate access to funds in their PayPal account. Square Register: This is the pioneering company in the market— one that says it is now processing $4 billion in payments annually. Like PayPal, it charges one rate: 2.75 percent. Its new Square Register app expands the company’s services beyond mere card-reading to all aspects of a retail sale, even offering cloud-based business analytics that a business owner can check remotely. The company promises next-day deposit of funds into a merchant’s bank account.

“We took on the iPad because they’re selling like hotcakes,” said Twistee Treat CEO Corey Balzer. “For us, because we’re a 30-year-old brand, it really updated our brand overnight. The more Apple does— obviously they’re doing pretty well—we’re piggybacking off of that.” Industry observers say the market for mobile card readers is only about 10 percent as big as it could be. Despite Revel’s advancements, though, most companies expect to focus on small businesses for now. “For the foreseeable future, it will be a lot of incremental enablements—we’ll be able to enable lots of businesses that don’t currently have credit card readers,” said Hill Ferguson, PayPal’s senior director of mobile. “We’re not looking to displace [the traditional credit card] infrastructure; we’re looking to enable the entrepreneur.”

What those offerings have in common is that they’re aimed at the very smallest businesses. But iOS-based retail is expanding into mid-sized companies; Revel—targeting businesses with $500,000 in annual sales—recently introduced an iPad-based point-of-sale system that lets customers choose what they want to buy, then swipe their card to complete the sale. The system is in place at Twistee Treat, a Florida-based chain of ice cream franchises.

Mobile POS Usage Growing Among Restaurants October 21, 2011

Article by Alan Liddle

More point-of-sale technologies are going mobile as they move to such platforms as smartphones and tablets, posing a “significant” threat to the traditional POS market, according to technology researcher Greg Buzek. The migration is particularly evident at independent restaurants and start-ups, where less-expensive options are more readily embraced, said Buzek, president of research and services firm IHL Group. He recently spoke with Nation’s Restaurant News about these trends, which appear in IHL’s "Mobility — A Gutenberg Moment for Retail, A Threat to POS" study.

How are mobile devices affecting POS purchasing and deployment decisions among U.S. foodservice operators? There is a very significant impact so far on the smallest of restaurants and food trucks. The Square POS solution on an iPad or iPhone provides a POS solution and a payment solution for about $500. The benefit of not having to pay $2,000 or more for a POS unit or get into a four-year lease for EFT [payment card terminals], plus the ability to go mobile [represents] a big challenge to traditional POS at that level. At the larger chain level, it will not be as significant, although we expect to see more and more tablet/hand-held devices at the restaurant level for wait staff, and that will ultimately mean less POS terminals will need to be replaced. So in the near term, the tablets and mobile devices are additive in terms of technology in the store. However, at the point of replacement of traditional POS, some users will plan to install fewer traditional POS [terminals].

How are operators responding to this development? The independents are the most bullish, at least among the restaurants. For the chain operators, the decisions come down to table turns and then to maintenance costs and replacement rates. For instance, with the Amazon Kindle, you can buy 10 of them for every hardened POS purchased today. So the question is what type of customer experience are you looking to have in your restaurants, and does the replacement rate of the devices in your environment make sense from a total cost of ownership standpoint.

When will these mobile devices significantly penetrate the U.S. POS market? Overall, for retail and hospitality, it will be the fastest penetration of any technology since the introduction of Internet connectivity at the store level. For traditional sit-down restaurants, it will be much slower [than in other industries]. We are projecting shipments of 2.7 million tablets a year to North American retail and hospitality [businesses] by 2015.

Some suppliers and buyers of ruggedized handhelds or tablets say consumer devices can't stand up to restaurant work. What has changed to make the use of consumer devices viable for restaurant POS systems? The price point. The discussion now is “what is rugged enough” and what is that value point. It is not $1,500 for a rugged device. Is it $600 or $750? The question is also how long do you want to keep the device and the purpose for having them in your store? If it is to create a leading-edge environment, you don’t want to keep them more than two years anyway. Quite frankly, the rugged devices at previous price points would never take off in volume; the return on investment is just not there. So there is a happy medium on price, performance and ruggedness, [and] that’s what vendors and customers now are trying to figure out. Is a protective boot device with a magnetic stripe card reader rugged enough? For some companies, yes; for others, no.

Do you think restaurant guests may one day order and pay solely using their personal smartphones? I think this will become a reality in fast food in the next two to three years. It will be tied to the success of mobile wallet technologies, like ISIS or Google Wallet, [and impact] anywhere in hospitality where speed of the transaction is critical and cash is a big part of the process today. It will be a lot longer before we see this in large quantities in the traditional bar/restaurant category.

McDonalds Japan to test car navigation-system ordering March 19, 2012 Article by Vanessa Van Landingham TOKYO - McDonald’s Holdings Japan is one of 26 companies involved in the test of what promises to be the next generation of to-go ordering. If the test goes as planned, drivers may soon be able to place orders at participating McDonald’s restaurants with drive-thru service using their car navigation systems. The company said that during the test, the “intelligent transport” navigation systems on eight cars would be engaged to enable wireless ordering at a McDonald’s unit in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. The technology uses Japan’s wireless traffic news network to download a McDonald’s menu to the car’s navigation device when it enters a range from which an order can be transmitted. Users than make their selections using the navigation touch screen and send the order to the restaurant while en route. They also can pre-pay with a payment card via a device in their car. McDonald’s said about 90 percent of its suburban restaurants in Japan will offer drive-thru service. The company believes cutting the time spent waiting in line to order, pay and receive menu items will attract more consumers.

In addition to McDonald’s, such heavy hitters as Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Toyota and the government-backed Highway Industry Development Organization are involved in the production and testing of the technology. The HIDO said it anticipates further interest from other concepts after use of the “intelligent transport” navigation systems becomes more widespread among consumers.

Seamless for iPad The New Most Amazing Way to Be a Lazy Food Addict Feb. 28, 2012

Article by Sam Biddle

Seamless is our favorite enabler of 21st century sloth—a few clicks, and food arrives at your door or desk, virtually no human interaction required. It's lovely! And now it's on your iPad at its indulgent best.

The variety of ways to narrow down the massive restaurant list makes seeking out lunch or dinner less overwhelming, but the app also makes it easy to browse past orders if you're the habitual burrito type.

Unlike the iPhone version, which is more or less the functionality of the website stuffed into Apple's clothing, the iPad app was created from scratch, and it shows. It's beautiful, yes—giant photos of your food, a surprisingly effective plate-based GUI—but it also offers a lot the website simply doesn't. Filtering is a swipe-based breeze, allowing you to look for a place that serves both sushi and BBQ.

But design aside, the app has one even larger thing going for it— this is the best way, I'd argue ever, to order in for a group. Instead of having to keep track of everyone's order (DUDE I SAID I WANTED A PEPSI), just pass around the iPad and let your pals pick on their own. The iPad's form factor complements hungry hands. Getting everyone to pay, however, might still cause some tension. March 7, 2012 Article by Samantha Murphy InfoGraphic by CultureLabel

Why Mobile Commerce is on the Rise

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Download ChefRef, Sysco’s amazing new app, from the iTunes store, or visit Available for iPhone and iPad. Android version coming soon!

Mobile & More  

Knowledge on using mobile devices with your business.