A Restaurant Experience for the 21st Century: Why Applebee’s Turned to Tablets

It would seem that the fast food industry is slowly starting to crumble — people are much more conscious of their eating habits and the market is finally starting to reflect that change: fast food restaurants have begun offering ‘healthy’ options, and other pseudo-fast food restaurants like Moe’s and Chipotle have rocketed in popularity with a promise of fresh ingredients at a much faster pace than a typical sit-down restaurant experience.

So how do restaurants in-between fancy and fast keep up with the growing demands of the market?

Applebee’s has an innovative idea that could potentially be a game changer: by allowing customers to order, call their server, pay, and more — directly from a tablet installed at their table, they can take things at their own pace.

Technology has slowly been making its way into the food industry in many different ways.

  • Touchscreen drink machines are now widespread and give customers more options than ever before.
  • Many sandwich shops and fast food restaurants have experimented with customer-facing touchscreens at the counter where they can order and pay, freeing up employees to focus on the kitchen or servicing tables.
  • Electronic order tickets increase order accuracy and kitchen organization.

These are just a few of the examples of the current trends, but there’s certainly even more room to improve beyond that.

Tablets at every Applebee’s Table

By introducing tablets at every table, customers are going to start noticing some subtle but refreshing changes to their dining experience. Ordering from a tablet is optional, of course, but if the customer chooses to do so, their exact order is automatically displayed in the kitchen as soon as the customer puts it in. This could be a feature that comes in handy for couples wanting to go at their own pace and get lost in conversation without worrying about a server interrupting them.

The changes don’t stop there, however. Several other features of the tablets offer minor tweaks & improvements to the dining experience that many customers will be sure to take advantage of.

  • The “Call Server” button allows them to flag their server down whenever they want. That means no more going through multiple employees to finally get a refill on a drink.
  • Families with younger children will also be able to try out a variety of built-in games that can keep the little ones distracted while waiting for food.

The Advantage of the “Pay” Option

I think the biggest advantage of having tablets at every table comes into play after everyone is done eating. The “Pay” option allows you to pay for your order right at the table by swiping a card through the built in MSR (magnetic stripe readers).

This alleviates stress for both the customer and the server, as the customer no longer has to ask for the bill if it is not arriving in a timely manner, and the server does not have to worry about interrupting a special moment by bringing the bill too soon.

Not to mention it frees up servers to help customers with other things like checking up on tables and refilling drinks, improving the overall experience for everyone.

On top of all that, the customer never has to let their card leave their sight, adding to customer security and peace of mind.

Customer-Friendly Technology

Customer-friendly technology is taking the food and retail industries by storm as they scramble to compete with the incredible ease of online shopping and online take-out orders. By adding customer-oriented technology such as tablets, information kiosks, or product finders, brick-and-mortar stores can take advantage of their ability to treat every customer as a unique person, something that online-only interactions cannot provide.

Looking to make your customers’ experiences both efficient and memorable? We are well-versed in providing solutions for customer-oriented technology such as digital signage, point-of-information (PoI) displays, mobile point-of-sale (mPOS), and more.


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RAD DeRose, L-Tron Corporation President and CEOAbout the Author
RAD DeRose is the President and CEO of L-Tron Corporation. He has over 30 years experience in industrial automation and data collection solutions and brings a deep industry knowledge-base on the challenges faced in the commercial and public safety sectors. RAD can be reached at (800)-830-9523 ext 114 or emailed at info@L-Tron.com.