Is it too bold to say that self-ordering technology is the next frontier of hospitality? We’ll argue it’s right on the money. In a study of more than 1,000 American adults, 85% had used a self-service kiosk.
Even more telling, 91% of the millennial demographic in this sample had used self-service purchasing.
When you look at these numbers in tandem with the advent of delivery, the popularization of fast casual, and the skyrocketing popularity of take-out apps, it’s no wonder self-ordering technology is capturing consumers’ attention and pushing forth the need for restaurants to adopt self-service technology.
While the benefits of self-ordering kiosks for quick-service restaurants are endless, it’s not necessarily restaurants themselves that drive the need for self-service—it’s the customer. As customers become more familiar with the self-service movement in other industries, like banking and grocery, they’re helping transform self-service tech from “nice to have” to “must-have”, and the restaurant world is following suit.
But how exactly are self-ordering technologies helping restaurants master the customer experience?
- Faster ordering
Customers want their orders faster, which means restaurants need to produce those orders faster. Self-service technology enables more rapid transactions to take place. For restaurants whose business depends on high turnover, this is a win.
Keep in mind that, while self-ordering technology helps quick-service restaurants save on front-of-house labor, faster ordering requires more back-of-house staff to keep up with demand. However, not a bad problem to have if faster ordering is ultimately generating more sales!
- Increased sales
In the age of customization—whether it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, or extra avocado, please!— customers respond well to accessible meal modifiers. When you eliminate a cashier, customers feel more at liberty to modify and customize their orders on a whim. Self-serve kiosks never forget to tell customers exactly what’s available, nor do they forget to upsell with mouthwatering images of your food.
So what does this ultimately mean? Well, it means higher average orders! McDonalds found a 30% higher check average when orders were placed on self-serve kiosks. Taco Bell found a 20% higher check average via their digital app. Cinemark theatre saw concession spending per person increase for 32 quarters.
Given the opportunity, customers will customize their orders, which means they’ll order more and—willingly!—pay more.
- More accurate orders – because the customer is in control
According to Dr. Jake Wobbrock, CEO of AnswerDash, “Millennials generally prefer to be in control, [and] favor website self-service solutions over assisted service.”
From mishearing an order during the 8:50 a.m. coffee rush to penning an order incorrectly, mistakes happen. With self-service technology, the customer is in charge of relaying the information, which significantly reduces the chance for error, especially during a rush.
Industries like banking, retail, travel, and entertainment have long caught on, further propelling millennials’ independence-focused self-service. As they have, the expectation has reverberated to quick-service hospitality.
What should restaurants consider as they move towards self-service?
Cost: Assess the price of implementation, upgrades, and the impact on your FOH/BOH labor costs. As self-service increases ordering speed, you’ll need to project how the increased volume could affect your BOH operations.
Operations: Envision the flow of self-ordering: what does the customer journey through your restaurant look like? Where are your self-service kiosks located in your restaurant? Will customers have a chance to see the food they are ordering before they reach the kiosk? Will that visualization translate to your POS?
POS: Will customers be able to view the dishes before they order? Will sales metrics and reports capture and integrate the correct information automatically?
The popularity of self-ordering is picking up speed. Gain an edge against your competitors and start planning for how you want to implement self-service kiosks at your quick-service restaurant.
Tiffany Regaudie is a Content Marketing Specialist and Editor at TouchBistro, where she writes about restaurant and dining trends, restaurant management, and food culture. She’s passionate about traveling the world and getting to know communities through great food.