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Best Uses for Tablets at Your Restaurant

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff

You can save time and money and improve your customers' dining experience with tablets at your restaurant.

  • Tablets can increase a restaurant's efficiency and flow.
  • They help your restaurant provide a unique customer experience.
  • You can use tablets to run your business software.

A tablet can be an amazingly powerful tool that greatly improves the flow of your restaurant. For years, it has been common for small businesses, such as vendors at farmers markets, to use a tablet when making sales on location. However, tablets can do so much more. For instance, they can meet all types of restaurant management needs.  

Why restaurants are switching to tablets

There are many reasons why some restaurants are switching to tablets, including improvements to the customer experience, increased efficiency and greater profits.


Most sit-down restaurants require a server to deliver the menus and then come back and take the order. They may need to make a few passes before the customer is ready to order. After they decide what to order, the customer often has to wait a few minutes before the server comes back.

Allowing customers to order at their convenience improves their experience, and it also increases efficiency and accuracy. Servers are busy and sometimes make mistakes when taking orders. If the customers order themselves, mistakes are less likely.

Reduced labor costs

Customers ordering and paying from tablets cuts down on labor costs. Servers no longer have to take the orders or pick up the check and run a credit card themselves. Over time, this can add up to big increases in efficiency and reductions in labor costs. Servers and cashiers can handle more customers without being overwhelmed.

Unique customer experience

A tablet might not create a unique customer experience in itself, but what you do with it certainly can. An interactive and informative menu gives you the opportunity to showcase your brand's personality and provide more information. Do you have a superstar ingredient? Do you grow your own produce? Do you sustainably source your seafood? Tablets allow you to share these facts. You can also provide conversation-starters for the table or games that customers can play together.

Tablets also make it easier for customers to be specific with their orders. For example, they can easily add requests for condiments or their preferences for how well done the food is to an interactive menu.

Cross-selling and upselling

Tablets allow for automatic cross-selling and upselling, instead of servers having to make the suggestions. It's easy to add upgrade options to menu items, offer specialty drinks, and display your signature desserts after customers finish their meals.

Greater profits

All of the above benefits add up to one thing: increased profits. Streamlining the ordering and checkout process, easily cross-selling and upselling, and providing more information for your customers can all increase your bottom line. Tablets might be a big investment initially, but they are well worth it for many restaurants.

How to make the most of your tablets

1. Replace your menus.

You can use a tablet to replace your traditional printed menus, and there are plenty of premade options already out there, such as eMenu Pro and MenuPad. This can save you money in printing and reprinting. It also allows you to be agile in keeping a seasonal menu. 

If you place a few tablets near the entrance of your restaurant, customers can review your menu before they get seated or to the counter. Sit-down establishments might want to place a tablet at every table and let customers order directly from their seats, so diners might get served more quickly than if they relied exclusively on overworked servers. And when people get served faster, you turn over tables more quickly.

For restaurants with large wine lists, tablet menus can hold so much more information than you can get in a paper menu. With apps like WineStein, you can provide a guided tour of your wine list, separated by grape variety and climate zone. It can offer up tasting notes written by your sommelier as well as food pairing suggestions. With apps like Aptito Menu, diners can request a server's attention or even ask to speak directly to the chef, which could improve a customer's experience.

2. Replace your register.

Tablets can easily replace your traditional point-of-sale (POS) system that takes up so much of your counter space. Tablets are flexible and easy to update. When a new, more secure software version is released, it's simple to download it. [For more information, you can read our guide to the best iPad POS systems for restaurants.]

Tablet registers do not require a lot of hardware. You need your tablet and a card reader in order to accept credit card payments, but that's all that's essential. Of course, stands, protective cases and styluses aren't out of the question, but they aren't absolutely necessary. 

Finally, tablet cash registers are portable. If you have a sit-down restaurant, you can take your tablet to the tables and take your customers' payments while they are seated. This streamlines the payment process for your staff and diners, which can mean more money for you.   


Editor's note: Looking for the right POS system for your restaurant? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.


3. Run your business software.

Tablets help you track your business inventory, vendors and other processes. Popular software that you need to run your business is available on tablets. You can also download accounting software to track your business expenses and run your payroll online. If you have delivery drivers, you can even download fleet management software to your tablet and track your drivers while they are on deliveries. A tablet can even help with inventory – you can use its camera to quickly track what you have on the shelves and in the freezer.

Tablets can help you run your restaurant more smoothly. You can offer features that help customers, like digital menus and tableside ordering. You can also use your tablet as a register and to manage your business processes. Popular business management software for tablets includes POS systems and accounting software, which are necessary for the long-term success of your restaurant.

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