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Touchscreens in Restaurants Make Customers Spend More

Photo: Ziosk / Facebook
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Servers, beware: According to Bloomberg, having touchscreen tablets on tables — an increasingly common phenomenon — has been reported to meaningfully increase customer ordering and spending. Looking at information from tablet company Ziosk and Tex-Mex chain Chili's, Bloomberg outlines just how the psychology of tablets gets customers to spend more and take less time doing it. At Chili's, the tablets are such a hit that after testing in 180 restaurants the company is planning to roll out tablets to most of its 1,000+ U.S. stores in 2014.

Apparently, appetizer and dessert sales have increased at Chili's by 20 percent. Pictures of appetizers are shown as soon as customers arrive, and pictures of desserts stream while customers are eating their entrees. Chili's estimates that one in 10 tables makes use of the $0.99 unlimited video games, revenue from which is shared with Ziosk. An added bonus is that because customers don't need to wait for a bill, Chili's can turn the table some five minutes faster. Even though waiters are less involved with the customer, Chili's has found that tips have increased by 15 percent with the automated payment system, which defaults to a suggested 20 percent gratuity. Presumably there will be far fewer servers left to enjoy that bump after they are replaced by sneaky touchscreens.

· That Digital Tablet on the Restaurant Table Will Make You Spend More [Bloomberg]
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