Introducing self-service restaurant kiosks has brought about both advantages and disadvantages in the food service industry. On the one hand, they can improve efficiency and reduce business labor costs.
On the other hand, they may lead to a loss of personal customer service and limit employment opportunities.
These pros and cons must be carefully weighed by restaurant owners considering implementing kiosks in their establishments.
Keep reading to discover all the benefits and drawbacks of incorporating a self-service kiosk into your restaurant.
What Is A Self-Service Restaurant Kiosk?
In quick-service restaurants (QSRs), self-service kiosks allow customers to order food digitally. Several restaurants and commissaries also accept credit cards for payment at their kiosks.
By effectively implementing these kiosks, restaurants can shorten customer wait times and increase revenue through upselling and cross-selling.
The fact that food service kiosks alleviate some of the burden of customer service from employees can also reduce employees’ stress levels, especially during peak periods such as lunchtime.
Changing trends in self-serve kiosks in restaurants
In recent years, there has been a growing trend of restaurants installing self-serve kiosks. These kiosks allow customers to place their orders without waiting in line for a cashier.
Instead, they can simply select their items and pay for them at the kiosk. This type of automated restaurant technology is becoming increasingly popular, as it can help to reduce long wait times and long lines.
In addition, self-serve kiosks can also help to improve accuracy and reduce order errors. As a result, more and more restaurants are beginning to adopt this new self-service kiosk technology. This trend will likely continue in the years to come.
Online menus make it easy for customers to place orders and make payments today without the involvement of anyone else. From Taco Bell to Panera Bread, many fast food chains are adopting self-ordering kiosks.
Pros of using restaurant kiosks
Customer experience can be emphasized by more time spent by staff
Self-checkout kiosks are popular with fast food chains because they enhance efficiency in the ordering process.
Restaurant kiosks are sometimes viewed as a threat to jobs. This misconception should be addressed. Instead of hiring fewer employees, the goal is to redirect their energies toward roles that can improve customer service.
Less staff working at the cash registers means more time can be spent assembling orders and reducing wait times. In this manner, staff can pay closer attention to customer feedback and satisfaction as a result of gaining more time to do so.
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Orders customized with fewer errors
Restaurant owners can improve the accuracy and customization of orders with self-service kiosks.
Fast food counters can become extremely monotonous and mistake-prone when requests for changes are made to classic menu items.
It reduces the chances of human error significantly by eliminating that common issue while increasing order accuracy.
Upselling regularly increases customer spending
The increase in customer spending is another benefit of self-service system kiosks.
According to one study, self-ordering at Taco Bell and McDonald’s led to higher spending by 30% and 20%, respectively.
Cons of the Self-Service Kiosk Experience
The up-front investment cost is often a major concern when implementing new technology in your business. Especially for independent restaurant owners, this is a daunting task.
According to QSR Magazine, it costs approximately USD$5,000 to set up a kiosk, including a scanner, credit card reader, self-checkout screens, and receipt printer.
A quick-service restaurant could easily spend five figures on kiosks if they need customization.
Having fewer points of contact with the customer
Less interaction between the waitstaff and customers is another con often considered, as the “human touch” is significantly reduced.
Restaurants with sit-down dining are more likely to have this problem since guests often ask their servers for recommendations. Unlike in traditional restaurant settings, kiosks do not have a personal touch, so some customers cannot easily choose what to eat.
Furthermore, even those who order from the self-service kiosk may not find the overall experience satisfactory (because of the lack of personal interaction) to return.
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Instability with technology
Despite COVID’s strength in softening public aversion to technology, it has not eliminated it. Customer confusion about how to use a self-service kiosk is the most obvious disadvantage.
If you don’t have a staff, any benefits of not having one will be for nothing since you will need your staff to guide customers. It is usually the older demographic that is in question here. Their tech skills are less advanced than those of the younger generation.
Alternatively, the self-service kiosk may need an interface display that is understandable to them.
Should you use self-service options in your restaurant?
Considering installing a self-serve kiosk in your cafe or restaurant? Here are some factors to consider before you decide.
Identify both your business and your customers’ needs
Self-serve kiosks are likely to be more popular among young customers who typically have a more positive response to mobile payments, and similar digital updates.
If you operate a coffee shop with a highly customizable menu, your guests may find it easier to select toppings by checking boxes on the menu screen rather than specifying them verbally.
A more relaxed and homey atmosphere, however, will probably require the gradual implementation of self-service POS systems and methods.
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Consider customer and waitstaff feedback
An ordering and payment kiosk could greatly assist in tackling problems such as slow service, long queues, and frequent errors when keying in orders.
A hybrid approach may be appropriate
Many chain restaurants, like Buffalo Wild Wings and Chili’s, offer guests the option of ordering food, paying, and viewing the menu using tablets. When there are busy periods, this saves customers from waiting and being frustrated by the waitstaff.
While they are not kiosks, they are similar self-service systems that are becoming increasingly popular with today’s customers. In addition to improving efficiency and speeding up service, this solution offers some benefits similar to self-service kiosks.
While at the same time, diners still have the option of interacting with servers (providing the human element) who can suggest menu options, answer questions, and provide friendly service.
When deciding whether or not to implement self-service kiosks in your restaurant, there are a variety of factors to consider.
The first step is to research your target audience and customer base. Are they the kind of people who would prefer the convenience of a self-service option? Or would they prefer the personal touch of a human waiter or waitress?
Once you better understand your customers’ needs and preferences, you can weigh the pros and cons of self-service kiosks.
Some benefits of self-service kiosks include increased efficiency and lower labor costs. However, it would be best if you also considered the potential downside of using them, such as the possibility of decreased customer satisfaction.
Ultimately, it is up to you, the business owner, to make an informed decision about what is best for your restaurant.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Digital ordering is an ordering system that allows customers to place orders using a computer or mobile device. Customers can use this system in restaurants, cafes, and other food service businesses.
There are several benefits of digital ordering, including the ability to save time, reduce errors, and improved customer experience. Additionally, digital ordering can provide customers with a more personalized experience by allowing them to customize their orders and view nutritional information.
Small businesses can also integrate digital ordering systems with point-of-sale systems and loyalty programs. This integration can help companies to track customer preferences and better manage inventory.
Overall, digital ordering can provide many benefits for both customers and businesses.
As more businesses move towards self-service options, the question of maintenance becomes increasingly important.
Self-service kiosks can greatly reduce costs and increase efficiency, but only if they are properly maintained. Otherwise, they can quickly become a liability.
Regular cleaning and upkeep are essential to keeping kiosks in good working order. In addition, it is important to make sure that the software and hardware are regularly updated. This can be challenging, as kiosks are often located in high-traffic areas and may be subject to vandalism or misuse.
Nonetheless, proper maintenance is essential to ensuring that self-service kiosks remain a valuable asset.
No, self-service kiosks are not limited to the food industry. Kiosks are being used more and more in a variety of industries as a way to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
For example, many retail stores now use self-service kiosks for tasks such as checkout and returns. Hotels are also using kiosks to check guests in and out, and some airlines are using them for ticketing and baggage check.
You can even find self-service kiosks in museums and art galleries, where they can provide information about exhibits and help visitors purchase tickets. As technology continues to develop, it is likely that self-service kiosks will become even more widespread.
To learn more on how to start your own coffee shop checkout my startup documents here
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun
My adventure in coffee began when I first launched my first coffee shop back in the early 2000s. I had to figure out so many things on my own and to make it worse within 2 years of opening two large corporate coffee chains moved in just blocks away from me!
As I saw smaller and even some larger coffee shops in the neighborhood slowly lose customers to these giant coffee chains and slowly close up shop, I knew that I had to start getting creative…or go out of business.
I (like you may be) knew the coffee industry well. I could make the best latte art around and the foam on my caps was the fluffiest you have ever seen. I even had the best state-of-the-art 2 group digital Nuova Simonelli machine money could buy. But I knew that these things alone would not be enough to lure customers away from the name brand established coffee shops.
Eventually, through lots of trial and error as well as perseverance and creativity I did find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the coffee/espresso industry even while those corporate coffee chains stayed put. During those years I learned to adapt and always faced new challenges. It was not always easy, however, in the end, I was the sole survivor independent coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of my location. Just two corporate coffee chains and I were left after that year. All told the corporate coffee chains took down over 15 small independent coffee shops and kiosks and I was the last one standing and thriving.
Along the years I meet others with the same passion for coffee and I quickly learned that it is not only “how good a barista is” that makes a coffee shop successful, but the business side of coffee as well.
Hence why I started this website you are on now. To provide the tools and resources for up and coming coffee shop owners to gain that vital insight and knowledge on how to start a coffee shop successfully.
Stick around, browse through my helpful blog and resources and enjoy your stay! With lots of LATTE LOVE!