Aug 6 , 2010

Restaurant ordering goes wireless with iPod

By Robin Arnfield, News Editor

LAVAL--Quebec-based Cluster Systems and Technologies is using iPods to bring wireless touchscreen ordering to restaurants. The innovation allows waiter-service restaurants to catch up with fast-food outlets where touchscreen order-taking and billing is well established.

Cluster is a small company set up by Michael Benaroch and Emanuel Vintila. Since November 2009, the company has been selling its own hardware and software for touchscreen POS systems.

Cluster started a pilot of iPod Touch two months ago at a branch of breakfast chain Allo Mon Coco in Laval. “We use standard iPods Touch but make a few changes to their settings before using them to connect to the fixed POS system and printers via Wi-Fi connections,” Benaroch tells Payments Business. The iPod was an addition to the Cluster POS system that had already been set up at the restaurant.

“We had to devise a suitable stylus that could be used by staff with long nails,” Benaroch says. “But, once we got round that problem, the iPod was well received by staff, particularly younger staff who are already iPod users.”

The iPods are due to be installed at the other two branches of Allo Mon Coco, and Benaroch says he has just taken on three sales staff to sell his POS systems to other restaurants.

“Being able to offer the iPOds is definitely a selling point for our systems, and restaurant owners are very interested in the product,” Benaroch says. “The big challenge is to find restaurants that do not already have a POS system. We can add our software to an existing POS network, but we cannot guarantee the quality of service with a network that we did not set up.”

The ideal customer is a new restaurant that is setting up a new POS system. One such restaurant has just ordered a system with 5 iPods from Cluster.

Benaroch says he has received a lot of call from people in Canada and the U.S. who want to resell Cluster systems, but so far he has not taken anyone on. “What I am looking for is someone who is already a POS reseller and service provider for the restaurant business,” he says. “I would sit down and discuss possibilities with experienced people, because we could teach them about our software.”



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