How can restaurants minimize the frictions that occur when consumers are considering ordering more food, drinks or desserts — the cognitive dissonance that can occur before a guest chooses to order? According to The Atlantic, Chili’s has found a winning solution for this problem, and that’s their tablet Point of Sales systems.
The article details how Chili’s recognized that an aspect of the average consumer decision was preventing them from ordering exactly what they wanted. Why wouldn’t someone order a rack of ribs along with home-style fries if they wanted it, and could afford it?
In many cases, it is because customers believe on some level that their server will be judging them. As The Atlanticpoints out, simply the presence of a “potential judger” is enough to effectively make a consumer rethink what they would have otherwise ordered.
A 2013 pilot program indicated that tablets “reliably increased the size of the average check.” Servers are not absent from the serving process — the transition just minimizes interactions as much as possible. The machines automatically suggest a 20% tip, which more people end up following than they would without the gentle reminder that 10% is not enough.
Chili’s partnered with a tablet-making company in order to create tabletop devices that can allow consumers to order meals and pay for them without the need for a server. The tablet also offers games for kids, as well as news offerings. Chili’s has now installed more than 45,000 tablets throughout their over 800 restaurants.
An intriguing finding from Chili’s tablet implementation was the discovery that impulse orders were more likely to occur when the wait for a human server was eliminated. According to the company providing the tablets, restaurants experience an average 20% increase in appetizer sales when tablets are used.