An AI-powered digital waiter and menu service has launched in the UK to help restaurants, cafes and bars to safely re-open their doors as lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted.
The service – w8r.ai – removes the need for physical menus and lets customers order food and drink directly to their table from their own phone, increasing staff and customer safety.
The service doesn’t require any downloads – customers simply use their phone camera to scan a QR code on their table. This launches a digital menu from which they can browse and tap to order. Each QR code is unique, allowing the table number to be identified and the order sent immediately to the kitchen or bar for service.
“It’s easier, faster and safer than the traditional ordering experience,” said w8r founder, Craig Holt. “If you want a round of drinks at a bar, or to order your meal in a restaurant, just tap and your order is instantly sent where it needs to be. You no longer need to wait to catch the eye of a waiter or stand queuing.
“By removing physical menus and reducing the amount of physical staff-to-customer interaction, w8r helps keep customers and staff safe and increasing confidence in the re-opening initiative.”
Each venue’s digital menu is integrated with an AI-powered chatbot that can give advice and even make food and drink recommendations. Customers can also exchange messages with the restaurant staff or request someone to come over in person. “It puts the customer in control of their experience” added Holt.
As well as existing ‘order at table’ venues, w8r expect strong demand for their service in pubs and bars and ‘order at counter’ food establishments, as they consider the complexities of socially distanced queues.
“Moving to table service, but without having to add the cost of a new team of staff to take orders, should enable these venues to continue to be both safe and financially viable,” added Holt. “We’re very conscious of the financial difficulties faced by the industry right now. By helping to reduce costs, whilst also enabling restaurants to optimise their revenue through the smart recommendation engine, we hope this product can help safeguard venues and protect jobs.”
w8r will be available to businesses in the UK and US initially and a basic ‘QR code to existing online menu’ service will be made available for free immediately to help support the industry.