There is a lot of noise surrounding the increase of self-service kiosks in the food establishments, especially the fast service restaurants. At the recent fair, I saw first-hand the growing demand for these automated order solutions. And with digital menu boards approaching the saturation point in many restaurants, kiosks represent the next big opportunity for restaurant-based digital signage.
The increase in QSR self-service kiosks is not a surprise to people within the restaurant industry. And although I think it is very likely that in several years the kiosks are common in the QSR space, it will be seen exactly how and where they will be deployed.
QSRs are all about choice and convenience. Customers are usually very loyal to their favorite restaurants and are the creatures of habit when it comes to ordering. For this reason, I hope that restaurants are closely studying the habits of their customers, looking for ways to improve their dining experience without interrupting what is familiar and pleasing to those customers. Beacon-enabled kiosks are able to recognize specific clients and deliver personalized messages based on this captured data. Using beacon and Bluetooth technology, the kiosks are even able to suggest the “usual” client order and allow the customer to order directly from their mobile device.
Unfortunately, much of what is being written about the increase in QSR kiosks suggests that jobs will suffer. I do not think that is the case at all. Self-service kiosks simply offer customers more options on how they interact with the restaurant.
Take the drive-trough windows through an example: giving customers the option of ordering from their cars has not decreased the number of customers in the restaurant. On the contrary, drive-through options have probably increased the total number of customers that circulate daily. I think kiosks will bring a similar change in customer behavior – giving customers greater variety and convenience in the way they interact with the restaurant, which leads to an increase in sales.
Restaurants will also enjoy greater efficiency as self-service kiosks will take over the market. Orders will be taken and filled more quickly, reducing the congestion that is common when people queue to place their orders and receive their meals.
The kiosks will also result in shorter lines in the cash registers, relieving much of the burden on the restaurant’s counter staff. This frees them to provide a more relaxed commitment with customers ordering at the counter.
It will take some time for restaurants to understand the best way to take advantage of this opportunity. But with the right combination of research and actual testing, these kiosks have the potential to improve the customer experience, increase traffic and increase the revenue of restaurants that accept this emerging technology.