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Everything You Need to Know about Tableside Ordering at Restaurants

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Whether it's through handheld POS systems or QR code ordering systems, tableside ordering delights guests and makes your front of house jobs easier.

What is Tableside Ordering?

Tableside ordering is defined as any contactless ordering and payment system where customers can browse the menu, input food and drink orders, and close their checks, either with the help of a server or on their own phone.

What is a Tableside Ordering System?

Tableside ordering systems for restaurants show up in two ways: via QR code ordering systems and/or handheld POS systems. They're an integral part of the New Steps of Service, a model that has emerged to meet the new needs of restaurants and restaurant-goers.

What is a QR Code Ordering System? 

An increasingly popular, newer type of tableside ordering technology is Order & Pay, where guests scan a QR code from their phone to access a restaurant’s full menu. The entire mobile ordering process — opening the menu, selecting food and drinks, paying the bill, and adding gratuity — is all done from the guest’s phone. This is a self-serve restaurant tableside ordering system; there are no menus, receipts, credit cards, or pens to touch — ever.

What is a Handheld POS?

Another option for tableside ordering and payment devices is the handheld POS, wielded by a server. Handheld-based platforms can be carried anywhere throughout the restaurant, reducing the need to travel back and forth to a central POS to put in orders. Toast handhelds can take guest orders, process NFC, digital wallet, and card payments, email receipts to customers, and include loyalty and rewards programs. Handheld-based platforms for restaurant tableside ordering are increasing in popularity, even among restaurants that had clung to the traditional paper receipt model for decades.

Restaurant POS Systems with Tableside Ordering

At Toast, we offer both types of restaurant POS systems with tableside ordering, both of which help with speeding up table turn time. Whether you’re exploring self-serve tableside restaurant options with QR codes, or are looking for a way to streamline FOH flow with a handheld POS system, Toast’s ordering technologies are seamlessly integrated into the point of sale and can help you track what's working and what isn't. Restaurants can save both time and money, increase profits and tips, and reduce waste while providing benefits to customers, which makes restaurant tableside ordering systems even more appealing.

Order & Pay at the Table

Order & Pay at the Table technology allows restaurant guests to order items and pay their tab by scanning a QR code with their smartphone. In addition, guests don’t have to feel rushed once the dining experience is over — they can pay in their own time, or leave as soon as they're ready to head home to their couch. 

Top 5 benefits of QR code ordering

  1. Nothing to touch. Say goodbye to menus, receipts, and pens now that guests can order and pay directly from their phones.

  2. Easy to order, easy to pay. Guests can browse the menu, place their order, and pay for their meal from their device on their own terms.

  3. Reduce the back and forth. Guests can order and pay as soon as they are ready. No waiting for a server and no handling of credit cards and pens needed.

  4. Help improve table turn times. With everything at their fingertips, guests don't have to wait for menus and checks.

  5. Free up your staff. Less time spent swiping cards and closing checks may reduce labor costs and leaves more time for hospitality.

Toast Order & Pay™
Give guests the experience they're looking for with mobile order & pay - easy access to what they want, when they want it, from their own device.

Toast Go 2 Handhelds

Our next generation of durable handheld POS is ready for restaurants ready to take the next step with tableside ordering — and more. It’s ready for any restaurant operation: inside, outside drive-through, curbside and more. The Toast Go 2 handheld is restaurant grade (spill, dust, and drop-proof up to four feet), lightweight, and has an ample, 6.4-inch screen so your FOH staff can view orders indoors and out.

Top 5 benefits of handheld POS systems

  1. Convenient payment options. Give your guests the convenience of contactless payments alongside dip and swipe. Guests can pay by tapping their cards or with phone apps like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

  2. Serve guests faster, no matter your model. Ready for use indoors, outdoors, drive-through, or curbside, Toast Go® 2 adapts to how you're serving now.

  3. Safety first. Doing more off-prem sales these days? Take payments curbside so your guests never have to leave their cars. This reduces unnecessary contact and streamlines service.

  4. Better Service. By reducing the number of times servers have to go back and forth to a central POS, they can focus on what matters most — delivering exceptional service to more tables — and turning those same tables 15-20% faster than restaurants that don’t use handheld POS systems.

  5. Higher Tips. Restaurants can also see higher tips due to using pay-at-the-table systems like handhelds, as tables are turned more quickly and guests have increased awareness of tip amount percentages through the tip prompt screen that appears before the signature screen.

How to Choose a Restaurant POS System with Tableside Ordering 

  1. First up, you’ll need to decide if you’re interested in exploring a QR code ordering system, handheld devices, or both. Both types of tableside ordering and payment options are best used together — order and pay can be used at every table, while handhelds can be carried for servers to check in and see if guests want to order any additional items, or if someone isn’t comfortable ordering from their phone.  

  1. Ensure the system integrates with your point of sale seamlessly. With outdated systems, sending an order to the kitchen can easily turn into a game of telephone. This means miscommunication and incorrect orders can define the restaurant experience instead of efficiency and clarity. Toast Go 2 and Order & Pay are fully integrated with the back of the house — servers will always know which items are in or out of stock, so no more awkward conversations with guests having to explain that the dish they ordered is out of stock.

  1. The ability to connect guest data for marketing campaigns. If you’re not collecting additional guest data and behavior, you’re missing a big opportunity to keep your restaurant top of mind when diners are looking for options. Ensure that your system collects valuable guest data (like email addresses or phone numbers) to better understand them and deepen the connection beyond the dining experience.  

  1. Ensure that the systems are worth the investment for your business’s needs. Restaurant POS systems with tableside ordering increase the efficiency and speed of service, meaning that you can turn more tables without diminishing the guest experience. Tableside ordering technology also increases the amount of upsells and tips, which can increase revenue. And eliminating using paper menus and receipts saves your businesses money and reduces your restaurant’s carbon footprint. 

Tableside Ordering is the Future

Tableside ordering allows guests and servers to order and pay for menu items seamlessly and with little or minimal contact. While QR codes and handheld POS systems differ slightly in their mechanisms, they provide a slew of benefits, giving guests more control of the ordering and payment process, allowing servers to turn more tables faster, and increasing upsells and revenue. 

Whether your restaurant decides to utilize QR codes, handhelds, or both, the ease and autonomy of tableside ordering are here to stay. Restaurants can save both time and money, increase profits and tips, and reduce waste while providing benefits to customers, which makes tableside pay appealing for any restaurant looking to streamline its operations.

Toast Go
Deliver service that's fast, safe, and flexible with Toast Go.