How tablets are changing restaurants and cafes

January 13, 2021

Of all the industries that were required to rethink their operating model in 2020, the hospitality sector arguably experienced the most disruption.

Faced with a cautious public and global lockdowns, cafes and restaurants needed to quickly pivot and adapt, rolling out new offerings, new delivery methods, and new ways to accommodate their customers.

For many that’s seen the increased adoption of technology, including the humble mobile tablet. But the changes of 2020 also draw on technology trends that have steadily been emerging in recent years.

Here’s an insight into how tablets are changing restaurants and cafes, and how this shift increased in 2020.

Customer check-in

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As social distancing became the global norm, establishments including restaurants and cafes were required to keep a better record of those attending their premises.

This led to a spike in tablet adoption and the implementation of QR codes to keep track of who was on-site, when.

Tablets featuring visitor management or customer check-in software allow patrons to quickly check-in to venue, input their details and sign any necessary Covid-19 disclaimers.

In the process they enable restaurants and cafes to meet any Covid safety requirements, and protect the operation of their premises.


With dining out and assembling in groups one of the first social activities that many governments restricted, the vast majority of restaurants and cafes quickly upped their takeaway offering to maintain the bottom line.

Here the humble tablet played a role too, allowing customers to quickly and easily order takeaway from the doorway of the premises without having to actually enter.

At home, tablets were also being deployed to order takeaway and book delivery through services like Uber Eats.

Meanwhile, for the restaurant or café, using tablets as front of house ordering pads allowed them to quickly update their menu, outline any visitor guidelines, and reduce staff interaction with the public.


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Long before the events of 2020, tablets were becoming the primary choice for the hospitality sector when it came to mobile Point of Sale. Tablets with mPOS allow servers to take the ordering pad to the table or alternatively enable patrons to self-order.

They also facilitate the swift rollout of additional mPOS terminals, take up less space than a traditional Point of Sale, and enable management to track a restaurant or cafes operation from anywhere, courtesy of software that operates in the Cloud.

Inventory and stock control

One of the key benefits of mPOS and tablets is the ability to manage stock and inventory in a restaurant and café environment.

Orders coming into the kitchen are immediately reconciled with stock on hand, while automatic re-ordering allows kitchen staff to seamlessly source additional ingredients.

This streamlines the back of house, while also better servicing the customer.

As an added bonus, management can quickly gain an insight into stock levels, sales for the day, staffing and more just by logging into the mPOS software from wherever they are.

Restaurants and cafes tablet and mPOS adoption globally

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In terms of mPOS adoption globally, the restaurant sector has been the second largest adopter of the technology.

As Global Market Insights notes this adoption is only set to increase in the years to come, with the restaurant sector of the mPOS market currently valued at $1 billion globally, but expected to skyrocket to over $5 billion by 2026.

They explain: “The growing demand for mobile POS terminals among restaurants including cafes, bakeries, quick service restaurants, bars and fast food chains is due to their ability of managing inventory, cost and labor at reduced cost”.

“These solutions simplify order management and increase customer satisfaction with faster payment processing. They enable the restaurants to accept and handle orders effectively and allow to track real-time inventory usage,” GM Insights states.

Meanwhile, mPOS terminals can also be networked to other peripheral equipment including kitchen printers, receipt printers, and displays, allowing a seamless communication between back and front-end processes.

They go on to note mPOS terminals are much cheaper and compact than the traditional POS systems, while staff training time is also cut due to their simplified software.

The final word

Since mobile tablets first hit the mainstream with the arrival of the iPad over a decade ago, restaurants and cafes have been among their greatest proponents.

Now considered a near-essential tool, the adoption has only increased in 2020 during a year when restaurants and cafes were challenged like never before.

And the likelihood is, long after the page turns on 2020, that adoption will continue to rise. The humble tablet has transformed hospitality and that’s not likely to change any time soon.

You can view our range of tablet stands suited to restaurant and cafes here.

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