Sunday, August 9, 2009

iPod Touch used for taking orders in a seafood restaurant

Like Sammy who's currently in the big city of New York, I am also in the big city of my own country: Jakarta. Just arrived yesterday for running a small errand and having a(nother) week off before a crazy month full of works ahead, for the next week I'll be having the busiest month of the whole year at work. A very good reason to have a week off for myself, don't you think? *wink*

So here's what happened: Me, my big sister and her husband went to this new seafood restaurant near their home. It's a new establishment, everything is new and shiny including the tables and the chairs, along with the awkard new trainees who were serving us. But what really attracked me right away was not how yellow the color of the waitress' teeth (yes, I took notice of the small thing like that), it was the shiny iPod Touch hanging on her neck.

Soon enough after we sat down on the un-comfortable chairs, the waitress immediately held the iPod Touch and began playing with it as if she was browsing the music in it. Apparently, the waitress was preparing a list of order for our dinner, she kept flicking the iPod Touch while she asked on who's name the order should be. I couldn't hold on my curiosity no more, so I deliberately stood up so I can have a clear look on the iPod's screen.

And what do you know? The restaurant has installed a special app inside each and every iPod Touch carried by the waitresses, for taking orders of the customers with it. Neat. The app is very simple,seemed to work and look like the mobile Safari. It shows many lists of menu available in small fonts, making the waitress to zoom in/out using the pinching finger gesture feature. After we finished ordering, the waitress pressed a print button and our order is quickly printed out with a small printer nearby the counter. Again, pretty neat and impressive. WiFi plays a great deal in transferring data across the crowded room, both for mobility and ease of use.

I tried to take a picture with my Trēo™ 750v, but unfortunately the manager politely asked me not to. Perhaps they are affraid competitors will try to steal the ideas, or the designs...

When I was paying for the dinner at the cashier, I asked the owner on why he uses a cutting edge device like iPod Touch for his restaurant, and he told me that way he managed to cut off half of the hassle of having to write down the orders again to the kitchen. That does make sense, and if I may say that method is working. Customers were pouring into the restaurant like rain, there were no long waiting to order the food, except of course waiting for the food to be served; it's a proof that the diners are pleased with the quick service.

But here's the thing that still bothers me even until now after we left the restaurant: is it profitable enough to use iPod Touch for a restaurant that offers foods priced below average like that one? You see, that seafood restaurant is offering foods priced below the average price of other restaurants in order to attract customers. It's not a fancy restaurant that charged high price, heck there's even no service fee included in the bill (it's supposed to be a mandatory in big cities). The price of the food is indeed quite cheap, comparing to the other restaurants in the capital city.

While the iPod Touch itself is roughly priced around US$315 in here, and if I'm right on the head count of the waitresses in the restaurant; there were about 10-12 of them who carried iPod Touch around their neck. It can be considered a big investment for a start up business which hasn't yet have a constant customers flow... Have in mind though, using traditional method: paper & pen is by far cheaper than a cutting edge device like the iPod Touch. And you have to think about a unit replacement whenever one gets broken, or worst get stolen. Because in real life, business is all about profit: more income and less spending.

Does the use of iPod Touch more favorable (if not, more profitable) than the price to afford it?
Have you ever see similar use of iPod Touch, or even iPhone, for business use? If yes, then please don't be shy to share the story with us.
Have a great weekend y'all!

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