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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

There are several options for restaurants to serve food to their customers. A Grubbrr screen can be installed facing customers so that it displays the name of the individual whose order has been completed, and he or she can then proceed to the pickup counter. The system can also automatically send a text message to a customer when the kitchen indicates, in the software, that her or his meal is ready. Alternatively, the wait staff can bring the meal to the patron's table once the kitchen-facing monitor has indicated that the order is complete and ready for serving.

In addition, the system can make the meal available in a locker that only the customer can access. The locker, provided by Grubbrr, would be installed between the kitchen and the dining area, to be accessed via two separate doors, one from the kitchen and the other by the public. The cook would place the tray with the customer's meal in the locker, then signal to the customer that it is ready. When the patron goes to the locker to pick up that meal, he or she uses a QR code on the receipt to release the lock.

In addition to restaurants, the system is also being piloted at stadiums and movie theater concession stands. In the latter scenario, Asher says, "Imagine if you had five back-to-back [kiosk] screens—ten people could be ordering at once," rather than standing in line. They would then get to their movie on time, and the theater would thus increase sales.

What's more, the technology can be used with HF RFID if users have an RFID-enabled wristband or badge. For instance, at a music festival or concert, ticketholders can be provided with a wristband containing an RFID tag that links to a prepaid or credit card account. Companies such as software provider Citrix are testing the kiosk in corporate food courts, Asher repots. In such an environment, employees could tie a food purchase to a company account with the tap of an ID badge, or use their own phones.

By eliminating the need to take a card out of a wallet, swipe the card and put it back, Asher says, the system enables food purchases to occur within a matter of seconds. The Grubbrr system is also intended to allow contactless or NFC-enabled payments for small companies that may not have a POS system capable of accommodating Apple Pay or other NFC payments. "We want to democratize payments," Asher says.

One fast casual restaurant that has been piloting the technology plans to increase the size of its kitchen in order to accommodate the additional business it has received since the system was taken live, Asher reports. Piloting started about six months ago and will continue this year, he adds. The company, which has asked to remain unnamed, will then determine whether or not to deploy the system permanently at some sites.

The system costs $399 a month for hardware, software and payment functionality for a single kiosk. Asher predicts that the system will not only increase efficiency, but also free up staff members to better engage with customers. "Everybody today expects a better experience" when they buy goods and services, he says. "I'd rather have a concierge in the front who will talk to me than someone behind a counter just taking orders." He envisions former cash-register-operating employees walking among patrons, offering coffee or soup samples, as well as helping them make menu selections.

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