Welcome to the Future: Order Buffalo Wings On Your iPad
In a telling indicator of how tablets have permeated the various aspects American life, restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD) is testing a pilot program that will allow customers to place their orders on in-house Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPads.
Initially tested at a site in suburban Toronto and soon to debut at a location in Minneapolis, the service would give each table an iPad, on which they would be able make both food and drink orders, as well as visit social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter or play online games.
Each table’s device is contained in a durable case from technology integration company Hubworks Interactive that increases the its battery life and includes a credit card reader.
Of course, waiters will still have to bring the food to the table, and there won’t be robots cooking in the kitchen, but the plan will no doubt boost efficiency, allowing customers to make their orders whenever they’re ready. It will also allow waiters more time to interact with customers and promote particular foods and drinks, as well as live activities and games, like trivia.
“Ultimately, we are trying to use the technology to enhance the customer experience,” said Tim Murphy, the chain’s director of international business. “People are familiar with iPads, iPhones and Android tablets, so this would enhance that.”
The chain is also considering using the tablets for advertising, and may also license popular games that suit customers’ tastes.
If the plan does launch nationwide, it could be great news for Hubworks, which sells each of its devices for about $750 each, as well as separate integration systems and other related software and hardware. Apple clearly stands to benefit as well, although the chain may decide to use Android (NASDAQ:GOOG) tablets instead.
However, the chain has chosen the iPad for now, as it is by and large the most popular tablet on the market. If trials go well, the chain may use the iPad 2, which would allow for video chatting as well. But right now, Murphy acknowledges that the the company is still trying to figure out how best to integrate the device into the overall restaurant experience.