Self service kiosks are the future of restaurant tech. Customers love them and they’re great for operators too. Fast food giants like McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King have all seen huge success since installing self service kiosks. It’s this widespread adoption of tech that has drastically changed the way we order food and drink over the past decade.
For restaurant operators considering self serve kiosks, it can be hard to know where to start, let alone how to incorporate them as part of your wider strategy. “Which kiosk provider should I use? What hardware do I need? How many kiosks should I install? How do I make sure my customers actually use them?” These are all common questions that we get asked at Vita Mojo.
This blog outlines the key considerations you should make when choosing self service kiosks for your restaurant. Follow these four simple steps to ensure you get the best value from your self serve kiosk technology.
Digital transformation might sound like an overwhelming concept, but it really doesn’t have to be. We’ve broken down the buying and implementation process into four key steps: software, hardware, space planning and order fulfilment. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Four steps to choosing your self service kiosk
Step one: Start with the right kiosk software for your brand
Choosing the right restaurant technology has historically been a hardware-led decision but as hardware is becoming cheaper and more standardised, it’s increasingly what’s on the inside your kiosk that really counts – your software. Choosing the right software provider for your kiosks will have the most influence on the quality of your customer experience, your flexibility in making kiosks work within your restaurant operations, and the overall success of your kiosks.
How it looks and feels
When choosing touch screen kiosk software, look for a digital interface that simple and easy to navigate. Good kiosk technology will guide your customers intuitively through your menu, enabling easy ordering and payment. Today’s customers have little patience for poor UX: don’t risk them defaulting back to your tills or abandoning your restaurant altogether.
Customisation and upselling
Increase basket spend by choosing a provider with sophisticated customisation and upselling features. It should be easy to switch the milk in your coffee, select a gluten-free option or remove items or toppings. Your kiosks should also upsell in an intelligent way e.g. knowing when to upgrade to a meal deal or suggest an add-on.
Look for software that gives you flexibility. Think different pricing for eat in versus takeaway; the ability to add discount campaigns and promotional banners; allowing customers to pay with gift cards; or adding an optional charitable donation at check-out.
Opting for cloud-based software will create a unified user interface across all customer channels, from kiosks to online ordering. Not only is this great for encouraging loyalty, it can also help you to reduce admin time down the line (such as updating all of your menus across all of your channels in one place).
Your kiosk software needs to integrate with your POS and other ordering channels so you can gather holistic sales data and maximise operational efficiencies in your back-of-house.
In summary: Good kiosk software is key. Make sure it looks great and upsells your menu.
Creating value for customers with smart UX
I am Doner’s strong and colourful brand is front and centre of their kiosks. Customers get the same great experience across all ordering channels.
Step two: Choose your kiosk hardware
A good kiosk provider will offer hardware that’s fully customisable, including colours, styling, payments and configuration options. As well as aesthetics, consider your hardware in terms of the problems it solves for you and your customers. Ask yourself:
- Are you making the most of limited space?
- Do you want collection screens or printed receipts so that customers know when to collect their order?
- Will your provider help you to maintain your kiosks and troubleshoot any problems once they’ve been installed?
When it comes to kiosks, size matters. Larger screens are eye-grabbing and easier for some customers to use, but take up precious space and often cost more. Smaller kiosks are effective for smaller locations.
From countertop to free-standing or wall-mounted, there are a range of kiosk options depending on your space and the overall effect you’re hoping to achieve.
Opt for a modular product that allows you to add or remove features at any stage. For example, you might decide you need a scanner for loyalty barcodes or ‘grab and go’, a printer for receipts or a PDQ machine for contactless payments.
When it comes to how many kiosks you need, there are no hard and fast rules. Work with your hardware provider (and interior designer, if you’re using one) to assess your space and decide what would be most effective. Remember, you can always add more down the line.
How much does restaurant kiosk hardware cost?
In total, a standard kiosk’s hardware tends to work out at £1000 to £1500, including the screen, stand, wall mount, ePDQ and other core hardware. With three kiosks, a high footfall QSR can expect to see these costs covered after just one month. Even so, this is significant capital investment – particularly when multiplied across several sites. For this reason, it’s best to prioritise your highest footfall locations and rollout gradually to trial your kiosk choices and spread your hardware costs over time.
In summary: Keep your kiosk hardware simple and test in high-footfall locations first.
Step three: Kiosk space planning
One factor that is often overlooked by operators is the physical placement of the kiosks. Where you position your kiosks within your restaurant venues can have a major impact on customer uptake, which directly affects your bottom line. Testing out various locations and signage options is paramount to optimise your customer journey. Your site flow should direct customers towards your kiosks and encourage them to order for themselves rather than joining a queue for the till.
The biggest error operators make is tucking kiosks away in a corner. Put your kiosks front and centre so it’s really clear where customers need to go to place their order. This will create a better experience for your customers while also maximising the commercial benefit for you.
It has to be crystal clear where customers need to order and collect their food. Use collection screens to show a customer’s name and/or order numbers when their order is ready, and make sure the collection screen is in a visible location. Additional signage for collection areas will ease queues during peak hours.
Create a designated waiting area so that customers don’t crowd the counter from all angles. Operators like McDonald’s and HOP Vietnamese have designated waiting areas to reduce congestion while their food is being prepared. They also have separate collection points for delivery drivers to prevent confusion with customers.
In summary: Plan and test your restaurant flow to maximise uptake of your kiosks.
Inspiring human connection with clever space management
HOP Vietnamese is a quick service restaurant that collaborated with Vita Mojo and YourStudio to create a smart, customisable and efficient self serve experience for customers. They build their space around digital ordering, with signage and clear areas for order and collection guiding the customer throughout the process.
Step four: Incorporate self serve kiosks into your wider digital strategy
Build an omnichannel ecosystem
The low friction nature of kiosks can make them an ideal gateway into your digital brand. Kiosks provide a strategic advantage for onboarding new digital customers onto other digital channels, such as Click & Collect or mobile order and pay.
Create an integrated restaurant tech stack
Get the most out of your kiosks by planning how they’ll connect to the rest of your restaurant tech stack. As a standalone tool, self service kiosks can boost throughput, but when part of an integrated restaurant ecosystem they can revolutionise your operations. Being able to send orders from all your channels into a single back-of-house system can drastically boost fulfilment efficiency, while big-picture sales data segmented by channel can give strategic insight into your customers’ habits.
In summary: Integrate your kiosks for better data insights and operational flows
How to get started with self service kiosks
Figuring out self service kiosks can be complex and overwhelming. That’s why it pays off to look for a software provider who has experience with this process, and can provide consultancy, as well as technology, to support you on your digital journey.