An unnamed quick-serve restaurant chain is testing Apple Inc.’s iPad portable computer as a customer-facing ordering and payment device, according to OrderTalk Inc., which makes online ordering systems for restaurants.

Customers at one of the chain’s restaurants in Boston where the test is taking place traditionally have filled out a paper slip they hand to the sandwich maker, says Patrick Eldon, OrderTalk CEO, declining to name the restaurant. “That was creating a lot of chaos within the restaurant environment,” Eldon tells PaymentsSource.

In the test, during busy lunch periods patrons approach an employee, who uses an iPad with an OrderTalk-designed application to enter the customer’s order, Eldon says. The submitted order then prints in the kitchen. During less-busy times, the restaurant affixes the iPad to a countertop where customers can enter their own orders.

Patrons also may pay for their meals using a payment application on the iPad. Merchants set up their own merchant accounts. OrderTalk can work with such payment processors as Chase Paymentech LLC, First Data Corp., Fifth Third Processing Solutions LLC and Mercury Payment Systems Inc., Eldon says.

The owner of the undisclosed restaurant testing the system was skeptical about using the iPad because it is new and had not viewed iPads as a commercial product, especially as a point-of-sale device, Eldon says.

But the system has worked well enough to warrant adding a second Boston location and three New York stores to the restaurant’s test, Eldon says.

Full-service restaurants also could use the system, with the iPad being fixed to the table. Customers could then use the device for entertainment, go online or participate in restaurant surveys, Eldon says.

IPads are not cheap—the least expensive is $499—but the other alternative for quick-restaurants is an ordering kiosk, which can cost up to $15,000, Eldon says. The iPad essentially enables a merchant to have kiosk functionality without the kiosk, he says.

Merchants may buy their iPads separately or purchase them through OrderTalk. They pay a monthly fee to use the OderTalk software, Eldon says, declining to disclose the fee.



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