Saturday, May 06, 2006

Food ticket machine

If you have eaten at any ramen, soba (Japanese wheat noodles) or donburi restaurants in Tokyo, you must have noticed that a lot of places have these food ticket machines.

The process is simple:
1. You decide what you want to order (by looking at pictures or menu)
2. You go to the food ticket machine, incert coins or paper bills (usually 1000 yen bills)
3. You push the buttons indicating what you want to order
4. You receive a ticket (with the things that you want to order printed) at the bottome tray of the food machine
5. You walk in the store and give the paper to the people
6. You get your food a little while later (usually about 2-6 min)
7. You eat and put the tray back to the tray collecting place after you are done.

I LOVE this system. Kinda wonder why Japan is the only country that does this? If I am the owner of a restaurant (especially a restaurant aimed at low-middle class, i.e. no need to be fancy), I'll definitely use this system - cutting extra labor cost, more efficient (from both the customer's and owner's point of view), fewer sources of errors (no one will write the wrong thing on the order or bill you extra), money is collected up-front, i.e. no need to wait for change or no one can eat without paying, etc. Numerous advantages and ... the only disadvantage is that sometimes you might need to go with someone who knows how to read Japanese with you, since some restaurants might not have a picture menu, so everything is in Japanese (though most restaurants that I have eaten so far either has a very good picture menu or enough plastic food model to indicate what kind of food is available).

In my opinion, these food ticket machine is great for the food industry (where human sales is unnecessary), so my question is - why ain't this system being adopted in other countries?? Anyone?? (one thing I can think of is that it doesn't do well with restaurants that focus on delivery service, but other than that...?)

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