Viableware, a provider of restaurant communication tools, today unveiled its new pay-at-the-table system, The Rail, a digital bill folder that allows customers to self-swipe their credit or debit cards from their seats.
The Rail enables restaurants to streamline the payment process and provides marketers with several innovative advertising opportunities.
Using the Rail, restaurant customers can split bills or bar tabs up to nine ways, calculate tips, and have a receipt emailed to them, without handing their credit card to a waiter. When they're finished, a small LED light on top of the folder indicates to the wait staff that the bill has been paid.
"This device not only simplifies table service operations, but it also opens up a multitude of revenue sharing opportunities," says Joseph Snell, cofounder and CEO of Viableware.
As customers pay for their meal using the Rail, a screen could appear offering discount tickets to a nearby movie theater, for example, or offer coupons for Toys R Us if the meal included items from the children's menu.
The customer can then choose to purchase those additional items, whereby the restaurant could earn a commission. Restaurant owners can also choose to include icons for Yelp and Foursquare, or allow guests to send a text message for a cab.
"The Rail provides a whole new way for restaurants to communicate with their customers in ways they couldn't before," Snell says.
The system also provides a platform for touch screen surveys, frequent diner programs, secret shopper reports, gift card purchases, and other programmable applications. In addition, the Rail can serve as a customer relationship management tool by alerting owners when a customer rates his or her experience as "poor" or "fair."
Based in Kirkland, Wash.,Viableware was founded in 2010 and includes startup veterans Snell and Andrew Pope, former Restaurants Unlimited Chief Executive Steve Stoddard, and Bob McBreen, a founding member of Microsoft's Xbox team.
The Rail is currently in the beta phase and has been tested at the Boom Noodle restaurant in Seattle. The company is in talks with several major restaurant vendors that have expressed an interest in possibly selling and distributing the Rail, according to Snell.