Digital transactions have the potential to not only disrupt real world consumerism but to also restructure the payment process. Traditionally, going to a brick & mortar store implies searching for what you plan on purchasing and then waiting in line to exchange money for the product or service. As we have seen with online ticketing, we are now seeing an opportunity to circumvent the ‘process’ entirely and to expedite physical transactions in a nonlinear way.
At the most recent Dublin Web Summit the energy company Electric Ireland set up a pop up Tweet Cafe. Patrons placed their orders by tweeting using the hashtag #tweetcafe and the number of the box with the food or drink that they wanted. A virtual queue was formed using Twitter profile pictures and displayed on a large screen. When their purchase was ready the proper numbered box opened and they could grab their meal.
By leveraging both Twitter’s real time interactions and their hashtagged searches, businesses–particularly in the food service industry–enabled customers to purchase products through a non-traditional method. They wait in a digital line, removing the need to wait before even placing an order, and the queues operate to alert people to when their order is ready rather than when it is their turn to place one.
Although the Tweet Cafe offered pre-made meals and drinks, the model could be easily appropriated into a real cafe or small restaurant setting. Customers no longer have to wait in line and can order as soon as they are ready. The next step would be to include smartphone payments thus placing more emphasis on food preparation rather on transactions. Avoiding lines and serving customers in this way would let workers regulate customers faster and more efficiently by collecting orders all at once rather than after they have been rung up. Orders can be organised in a manner that gets them filled more quickly.