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With NFC Kiosk, Your Order Is Ready

Restaurants, fast-food chains and stadiums are either piloting or planning pilots of a solution from Grubbrr that allows users to place orders and then pay for their meals with the tap of an NFC-enabled phone or watch.
By Claire Swedberg
Tags: NFC, Retail
Feb 05, 2020

Restaurants are piloting a new Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled restaurant-management system and kiosk that allows people to place orders and pay for meals with the tap of a smartphone or watch. The solution, from Florida technology startup Grubbrr, was conceived by the company's founder when he and his wife were waiting 45 minutes for a restaurant table on Valentine's Day.

"I hate waiting in line," says Bhavin Asher, who is also the company's CEO. Asher had a history in technology and business strategy work for IBM, Deloitte and Salesforce, so he began investigating a solution. Approximately three years ago, he launched Grubbrr, a technology company whose self-ordering kiosks, management software and related point-of-sale (POS) systems are intended to put an end to queues.

The company is partnering with FreedomPay, which provides the software platform to integrate the kiosk solution with restaurants' existing software. The resulting solution is intended to offer secure, fast and convenient payments, either with NFC-enabled devices, a standard credit card or cash, Asher says, while also bringing digital engagement to the point of purchase for a complete business-automation platform application.

When the company started several years ago, Asher says, it offered a simple kiosk for ordering. It has since evolved to include a POS solution that could be integrated with a restaurant's existing POS technology or serve as its POS system. By enabling restaurant customers to walk up to a kiosk, place an order and seat themselves, the solution is intended to increase an eatery's efficiency and to potentially boost sales accordingly. Asher uses the analogy of airport check-in kiosks, which have reduced the lines that traditionally snaked in front of airline check-in counters. Consumers now expect faster service and less wait time, he says.

The kiosk started with an Apple iPad or tablet that would allow customers to select from a menu of food and drinks. These days, however, it is a fully integrated device that provides full restaurant service management. A restaurant can link its menu with the Grubbrr software platform, and the kiosk will display that menu on its touch screen. It can also include a locker in which kitchen chefs can place finished orders. Grubbrr found a direct correlation between screen size and average ticket size, as well as revenue. As a result, most kiosk implementations now come with 32-inch screens, Asher says.

The kiosk comes with a built-in NFC reader, provided by electronic transactions technology company Ingenico. The reader captures transmissions from NFC-enabled phones, whether they use an iOS- or Android-based operating system. The NFC transmissions (at 13.56 MHz) comply with the ISO 14443 standard.

The system typically works this way: Users can go to the kiosk and select the food and drinks they would like to order. They are next prompted to pay. If they don't use NFC payments such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, they can swipe a credit card, or—in future versions of the kiosk, expected to be released by this summer—make a payment with cash. However, the system is designed primarily to leverage NFC, thereby making the process faster and more seamless. An individual simply taps his or her phone next to the reader, and that person's existing app will complete the transaction, deducting funds from his or her account. The order data is stored in the cloud-based software and is displayed on monitors in the restaurant kitchen, while chefs can then proceed to fulfill that order.

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