The Unexpected Problem With Tablet Ordering

Okay, we admit it, this may not seem like a problem to guests ordering food at a fast casual chain; but to restaurant owners who are considering switching from human servers to tablet ordering (that is, placing tablets at tables or the front of the dining area where guests can click through their order rather than speaking to a server), there’s new evidence to consider. According to a paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research, guests are actually less likely to indulge in decadent food and treats when they order from a tablet instead of a person. And while this could be good news for restaurants gearing toward the health conscious (like Sweetgreen, which already handles the majority of it’s ordering through a mobile app rather than face-to-face sales), it bodes less well for establishments like bakeries, pizza places or fast food chains.

The findings are interesting because they contradict an assumption many have, that guests are more likely to indulge if they don’t feel they can be judged by a server. Instead, the research suggests guests don’t feel judged at all – they feel encouraged to treat themselves, and are less likely to control ordering impulses when speaking than clicking a button.

There are certainly other reasons to shy away from tablet ordering, especially when hospitality is the backbone of your business. But for those considering the benefits, this research is one more factor to weigh in.

To read more, click here.

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