Most consumers have seen a kiosk POS system at least once in the past year. If they haven’t, it won’t be long until they do, because the self-service kiosks are coming. At the beginning of 2018, McDonald’s announced it would be investing $42.4 billion in deploying self-service kiosks in U.S. locations. Subway, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s all followed suit and announced their plans for digital kiosks.
This is a significant change that benefits customers and restaurants alike. Kiosks can be optimized to implement important objectives, such as improving the speed of service or increasing upsells. Below is a breakdown of the key findings from recent studies.
Long Lines and Waits Discourage Customers
For customers, waiting is the hardest part. Long lines that indicate the possibility of a long wait will discourage customers and drive them away. A line of just five people is enough to send 57 percent of customers to a competitor. Kiosks can increase the speed of the ordering and checkout without adding additional employees on the floor. And even if the line lengths were the same, a third of consumers would rather use a kiosk.
Technology Anyone of Any Age Can Use
While only 10 percent of customers surveyed in the study had used a self-ordering kiosk, a whopping 60 percent said they would visit a fast-casual restaurant more often if they were offered. This statistic includes tech-savvy millennials and older customers. Customers across all age groups are looking for options that provide them with faster service and an enhanced dining experience.
Use of Kiosks Increased in the Last Five Years
Interest in kiosks has risen in the last five years in both restaurant chains and consumers. Digitally savvy consumers expect more choice, control, and personalization when placing their orders. In this study, 54 percent responded that they would use a kiosk, while 46 said they would not. Acceptance and use is expected to rise as consumers become more familiar with the technology.
Successful Rollout of Kiosks
A number of issues need to be addressed for a successful rollout of self-service kiosks. Shake Shack felt some customer backlash when they attempted to go completely cashier and cashless with self-ordering kiosks. What this shows is that a successful kiosk program works best when rolled out in phases. A successful roll-out should involve marketing, operations, and IT. The program must match the business objectives and operational realities. The roll-out is then typically done in phases for best results, with staff available to answer questions.
Benefits of Implementing Kiosks
There’s no doubt that self-service kiosks gave a positive impact on restaurant revenues and profitability. They deliver higher check averages, with the typical lift in average check amounts of 15-20%. Kiosk orders generally have a higher margin, since the self-serve kiosk is designed to increase the check and upsell the higher margin menu items. For high volume fast-casual restaurants or those that often have bursts of traffic, kiosks are a cost-effective solution for adding order-taking capacity, thus reducing wait times.
With the ability to take more orders during the busiest times, restaurants get higher sales per labor hour. With kiosks, when guests place their own order, there is higher order accuracy. The combination of higher revenues and margins, higher sales per labor hour, and improved customer experience have a direct bottom-line impact.