Why Self-Service Kiosks are a Smart Investment for Your Restaurant

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February 24, 2021

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Self-service kiosks are great for customers. They’re quick and easy to use, and let you skip long EPOS queues. For restaurants, they save staff time and increase average spend too. That’s why fast-food giants like McDonald’s and KFC have been using them for more than a decade.

Historically, the restaurant kiosk was a standalone bit of hardware. It was big, clunky, and expensive to install. Although the technology could provide financial advantages to multinational QSR chains it remained unfeasible for much of the restaurant industry.

Fast forward to today and kiosk technology is a completely different beast – flexible, affordable, and cloud-based – and many more operators are recognising the benefits. Self-service kiosks are being embraced beyond the QSR sector, as leading brands such as Leon, YO! and Tossed take advantage of kiosk technology to unlock value for their restaurants.

So, how exactly has kiosk technology changed? Could kiosks be the right investment for you restaurant today?

How has self-serve kiosk technology changed?

Restaurant kiosks have better hardware

A lot has changed since the early days of the touch-screen kiosk. Leading kiosk providers now use PCAP touch screen software – the same tech you’d find in iPhones and tablets – to give pinpoint touch accuracy on their kiosk screens. Developments in processing power means that modern screens can be far more compact, providing more options in the size of your kiosk hardware. Today, some restaurant operators prefer to use smaller screens, even consumer devices such as iPads, as their tabletop kiosk hardware.

“Kiosks aren’t new, but the way leading QSR and fast-casual restaurants are using them is. Overwhelmingly, the trend is towards smaller, software-led kiosks, that allow restaurants to build custom solutions with standard parts. This approach is fast, agile, and much, much more cost effective”

Jim Foster, Elo Touch Solutions

Restaurant kiosks are agile

In the past, restaurant hardware has been limited and fixed. Operators would buy a piece of technology and be stuck  with that same solution for years. Today, kiosk screens are designed to be easily customised with plug & play connections, such as ePDQs, QR code scanners, and other devices that ‘snap on’ to the side of the kiosk. This massively increases flexibility for operators – restaurants can adapt their kiosk solution without repaying the full hardware costs. It also means restaurant businesses can be more agile, as new functionality can be live in days and weeks, rather than months.

Restaurant kiosks form part of a wider digital ecosystem

By far the most important shift in kiosk technology is the role that they now play within a restaurant’s wider digital ecosystem. For most modern restaurants, kiosks are just one of many digital ordering channels. While good hardware remains important, having robust software driving your kiosks, and seamlessly connecting to the rest of the restaurant ecosystem, is what takes the benefits to the next level.

Restaurant kiosks are intelligent

Self-service kiosks that sit within an omnichannel system can be intelligent and responsive. For example, live menu updates flowing into a kiosk menu can prevent customers ordering items that are currently out of stock. The reverse is also true, when live orders from kiosks and other ordering channels flow into a single KMS these can enable better kitchen prioritisation, increase speed of fulfilment and improve operational efficiency. Touchscreen kiosks can even boost a restaurant’s marketing and business strategy by enabling the collection of comprehensive sales data. With a channel-by-channel breakdown of customer habits, operators can better optimise their menu offering and overall strategy.

What are the benefits of restaurant kiosks?

Following the modernisation of touchscreen kiosk technology, more and more restaurant brands are tapping into the benefits. But what are they?

Self-service kiosks drive labour efficiency

The beauty of kiosks is that they allow operators to effectively outsource order taking to their customers. Taking this work away from restaurant staff enables a restaurant to either reduce labour costs or reallocate staff time into more value-adding work such as greeting customers, or prepping meals. Kiosks allow restaurant resources to be used more efficiently, and less time to be spent on keying orders into an EPOS.

Self-service kiosks increase throughput

People queuing round the corner to buy your food might feel good, but the reality is it’s probably costing you sales. In the traditional QSR set-up, taking orders often becomes an operational bottleneck, limiting takings over peak. Self-service kiosks are the perfect solution to this – they exponentially increase order-taking capacity. By splitting orders up between EPOS and kiosks, operators can cut down queues and bump up sales.

Customers spend more when ordering on a kiosk

Industry data consistently shows that customers spend more when placing their order via a self-service kiosk. In fact, operators report 10-30% increase in ATV for orders taken on a kiosk compared to an EPOS. Why? A well-designed kiosk is the perfect ordering companion. It helps customers to explore the whole menu, providing enticing images, thorough meal details and a full range of optional extras.  A kiosk never forgets to upsell, and customers using one don’t have to worry that the screen will judge them for supersizing. People take their time when ordering on a kiosk and it helps them to get the meal they really want, which is a win-win for operators and customers alike.

Read more about the benefits of digital ordering for restaurants here.

mcdonalds kiosk

Should I invest in kiosks for my restaurant?

As mobile ordering becomes increasingly popular in the hospitality industry, there is a legitimate question whether operators should still consider investing in kiosks. After all, can’t a mobile app provide the same benefits without the hardware costs? The reality is, it depends – no two restaurants are the same.

Of all digital ordering channels, kiosks are the largest, most visible, and lowest effort for your customers. If you offer an app to download, or a QR code to scan, customers are likely to default back to the easiest choice – queueing at your EPOS. Touchscreen kiosks, on the other hand, take zero customer setup, are extremely visual and intuitive – customers can just walk up to them and order. Kiosks also help customers to get familiar with your digital platform, so next time they come back they may be more likely to try click & collect.

Used well, self-service kiosks can be a powerful tool to cut costs, boost operational efficiency and increase revenue for your business. But, you will only realise their full potential by implementing them as part of an holistic digital strategy.

Learn how top hospitality brands are unlocking the value of digital technology in our free whitepaper: Digital Transformation & Hospitality.

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