Fiserv Inc.’s Clover point-of-sale technology business on Wednesday unveiled Scan to Order, which allows consumers to access a menu and pay for their meal by scanning a QR code at the table or the order window.
The application reflects an emerging trend among restaurants to shift interactions between customers and wait staff, particularly ordering and payment, to customers’ mobile devices. Many restaurants have begun placing bar codes at the table that, when scanned, allow access to an online menu. Others enable contactless payment by scanning a bar code on the bill. Now, combining the two functions is a logical next step, says Toby Malbec, managing director for Potomac, Md.-based ConStrata Technology Consulting, which has clients in the food-service, hospitality, and retail sectors.
“Placing QR codes on the table that enable access to menus has become table stakes for restaurants. Even the smallest ones are doing it,” says Malbec. “But also enabling the full gamut of ordering and payment by scanning a QR code is where the restaurant industry is going.”
Restaurants can customize Scan to Order to fit their operational needs. For example, restaurants that service customers through walk-up windows can program the application to enable remote ordering and payment at the time the order is placed, while sit-down restaurants can maintain their traditional practice of allowing customers to order at the table and then pay after their meal.
“We developed this technology to be customizable to restaurants’ workflow,” says Ellen Linardi, head of product for Clover. “This technology makes ordering and payment more efficient, which allows restaurant staff to focus more on servicing the customer.”
The technology is also expected to help restaurants reduce some operational costs, such as the printing of disposable menus and the purchase of portable POS terminals that allow customers to pay at the table or curbside. One restaurant using the technology is saving about $300 a day by not having to print menus on a daily basis, Linardi says. The restaurant, she adds, was printing separate, disposable menus for daily meal and drink specials.
Reducing diners’ reliance on wait staff to access menus, place orders, and pay can also increase table turnover, a critical factor for restaurants operating with capacity limits due to social-distancing guidelines. “Capacity restrictions during the pandemic have raised the need for restaurants to turn tables over faster so they can do more business,” says Linardi.
If nothing else, the technology can help restaurants calm consumers’ fears about dining out during the pandemic by creating the perception the establishments are conscientious about health safety. “Food safety and cleanliness have become even bigger issues for restaurants during the pandemic,” says Malbec. “This is an example of technology providers moving to meet the needs of restaurants as their operational technology needs are changing.”