A look at Naver's "Table Order" QR menu and ordering service

Naver has been rolling out a smartphone-based menu and ordering service for restaurants called "Table Order" (테이블주문) which is based on scanning a QR code on your table.

Once you do, your phone displays a full menu of available items and their prices and reviews from other customers. You place your order on your phone, and sit back and relax while the staff prepares and brings your meal. All this without any actual human face-to-face interaction. You pay for the meal in-app (currently via Naver Pay but potentially can be opened to other payment options), leave your own reviews, and exit, taking care of everything table-side.

There hasn't been much about it in English, but Naver posted an overview of the process, so I figured I'd share some of the imagery and describe how it works.

Using Naver's "Table Order" feature

When you scan the QR code at your table (using the Naver app), you'll see a menu featuring normal items and specials available today. You can quickly tap the shopping cart icon to add it to your order, or tap the item to get more info about it, including customer reviews, etc. Your order is tallied up as you go so you can see what the final cost will be.  When you're ready, you can place the order. That's it. Based on the QR code, the waitstaff will already know your table number. No physical menus, no waiter asking if you need a few more minutes.

They say the strength of this system is the flexibility of changing items and prices. No more raggedy old menus with items crossed out or higher prices pasted over old prices. A quick computer edit and the restaurant's online menus are all updated.

I see pros and cons here. One huge pro is that, while it's not happened yet, this could mean menus are offered in a variety of languages for tourists. Imaging sitting down at the table, and instead of just looking at the pictures and pointing out what you want, you can actually read the descriptions and order certainly and clearly, without any chance of confusion or miscommunication with the waiter. This includes a field for comments if you want a special order.

Of course there are cons too. Personally I prefer a physical menu that I can peruse and "take it all in" to get an idea of what I want. It's hard to get that wide overview on a small phone screen. And I sometimes like to ask the staff what's popular (of course the app would tell me). I guess I would just lament the loss of human interaction a bit, though others would appreciate it being done away with. I do like the convenience of touch-screen food ordering establishments, especially when I'm in a hurry. Of course having it on your phone means you'll need, well, a phone. Everyone does, but what about tourists who don't have cell service? Perhaps that's a good motivation for the restaurant to offer free Wi-Fi.

Here's a look at the reviews. Instead of relying on random Google Maps submissions, this more organized feature would let you see the specific customer ratings for specific items. I think this would be a good way to encourage people to try new items or things they might not be comfortable with. Conversely it can warn people to stay away from some items (if people complain about spiciness for example).

This has a great potential in that you could have some trail-blazing tourists leave their native language comments, that would have a strong effect on those items being repeat purchased by others from that language group. Assuming you have a Naver account of course, which these days isn't hard to get.

Here, the screens on the left keep you updated about the status of your order. Is it still cooking, is it coming out soon? You can also add additional items at any time (another beer? More fries?) and also specify extra items for "to go" that can be ready to pick up as you leave.

You can also check the itemized bill to make sure everything is right, and leave your own reviews.

You can even collect "stamps" automatically based on your order. When you've had 10 items, collect your free dessert or whatever. Beats carrying a bunch of loyalty cards in your wallet. I wonder if bonus cards and other rewards program cards can be included in the payment process too.

Where to use it?

Currently, Table Order is still in beta and only available at certain restaurants, such as some around the Pangyo area. But your best bet is to visit "The Lounge" at the JW Marriott hotel in the Dongdaemun neighborhood of Seoul, where they are doing a trial of Table Order through the month of October:

Table Order trial Sept 26 - Oct 31, 2019 at Seoul Marriott Hotel Dongdaemun

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this kind of service. I can understand the convenience, especially for multi-lingual menus when/if that happens. And it may be a boon for customers who fear annoying or rude waitstaff (or waitstaff who fear rude customers). I'm curious though how it will play out. What if I'm with a group? Do we all need to scan the code and have our phones out just to browse a menu? Will it have a built-in option for splitting the bill "Dutch pay"? (I guess I can just NaverPay the one payer). I guess I want to reserve judgement. I thought Kakao Taxi would only be useful in certain situations and we'd still just find it easier to hail one when we need one otherwise, but it turns out I only ever use Kakao T now when I (rarely) need a taxi. We'll see. Personally I'd rather not use it but I'm probably not representative.

Source: 네이버 '테이블주문'을 소개합니다. [출처] 네이버 '테이블주문'을 소개합니다.|작성자 네이버 설계(디자인)