Over the last decade, self-service tools have revolutionised airports. Endless queues of disgruntled customers stemming from slow-moving check-in desks (that cost a small fortune to staff) have been replaced by standing touch screens, used by 80% of the passengers in 2015 – compared to only 20% in 2005 (Eastwood, 2018).
In 2020, the popularity of self-service has permeated almost every industry, including hospitality. From fast food joints to multi-store enterprises, an increasing number of food & beverage outlets are transitioning from traditional ordering methods to integrated self-ordering models, including contactless table and online ordering. Patrons crave convenience, and the empowerment to order on their own terms is beneficial to both the customer and the business.
Developments over the past 10 years have allowed the ordering experience to go beyond an exchange over a single point-of-sale terminal. Using an omni-channel approach, traditional POS terminals, self-service table ordering, self-ordering kiosks and online/mobile ordering can all function together in a restaurant. Although many operators believe traditional ordering models still reign over self-ordering options, emerging trends in consumer behaviour suggest otherwise.
Speed of service is key to providing customers with an enjoyable, memorable experience. Within the Quick Service Retail (QSR) industry, recent data demonstrates that self-ordering kiosks reduce ordering time per customer (measured from the moment of first interaction with staff/kiosk to collecting the order) by nearly 40% (Klein, 2018).
Increased Order Size and Sales
Self-Ordering Kiosks also provide a boost in sales. In a digital age of increased mobile activity, traditional ordering models are not proving as popular amongst younger generations. Removing the one-on-one interaction between staff and customers allows patrons to feel more comfortable placing larger orders. Data from a recent Appetize case study – comparing sales between self-ordering kiosks and staffed cashier terminals – found that self-ordering stations not only accommodated more orders, but showed a 30% increase in average order size: 1.5x more items were in customers’ carts by checkout, resulting in a bump up to at least $8 per transaction (Eastwood, 2018).
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But at Abacus, we are seeing these same increases for our own partners, too. Pepper Lunch saw a significant improvement “straight away” after implementing the Self-Ordering Kiosk: before, staff attending registers would need to wait around for customers to come to them. Now, with the Self-Ordering Kiosk, staff can perform other duties (such as cleaning, packing takeaway meals or delivering orders to dine-in patrons) as walk-in customers place the orders themselves, leading to an overall reduction in labour costs.
It’s a similar story at Lanzhou Beef Noodle Bar, who attribute an increase in order size using the Self-Ordering Kiosk to customers being able to order dishes freely, without the pressure or perceived judgement of a cashier. An intuitive, customisable interface means that customers are free to visually explore more menu options with the Self-Ordering Kiosk, as well as pay and collect in one go.
More Upselling and Customization
Increased sales and order sizes are not the only outcomes of self-ordering models: intuitive upselling prompts, high customisation and order modification are also incredibly valuable features. With soft upselling prompts, patrons are encouraged to add drinks or desserts that they may otherwise have missed or ignored. In the fast-paced, high pressure environment of hospitality or QSR, staff can often forget to suggest an upsell. When prompted on a self-service kiosk screen, every patron can be gently encouraged to increase their spend, without any pressure.
Increased Customer Insights
As with traditional point of sale processes, self-service models provide advanced customer insights so restaurants can better understand their market: what items are popular, peak ordering times, what items are being modified and more. These insights are invaluable, and enable restaurant operators to determine strategies on what items to promote for the best chance of increased revenue. Pepper Lunch uses their sales data – showing most & least popular menu items – to influence their marketing strategies, especially in designing and implementing promotions to push dishes that aren’t ordered as frequently.
In addition to menu and order preferences, self-service tools offer insights into how customer demographics influence consumer behaviour. Having implemented a Self-Ordering Kiosk in January 2020, Lanzhou Beef Noodle Bar have noticed in-store that their growing base of younger customers (aged 18–25) prefer to use the Self-Ordering Kiosk for its fast, interactive and highly customisable features. Regulars of all ages at Lanzhou Beef Noodle Bar are also showing an increased preference for the Self-Ordering Kiosk, because they already know what they’d like to order and want to streamline that process.
Within an omni-channel approach, self-service kiosks seamlessly sync with the Abacus suite to provide instant, reliable data that can be analysed effectively.
Using Self-Service Kiosks at the Restaurant
When evaluating whether self-ordering kiosks can apply to your restaurant, it’s essential to remember that kiosks are designed to complement traditional point of sale processes. Self-ordering is not intended to entirely replace staff, but rather to maximise sales and improve efficiency. Additionally, personnel should still be available to welcome your customers and to make them feel comfortable, topping up their water, making sure that the floor is clean, and serving meals while they’re hot.
Operationally, kiosks should run in conjunction with traditional POS terminals. In a fast-casual restaurant, ordering at the counter should still be available. For QSR and table service outlets, kiosks can be available as an option for guests to quickly order for dine-in or takeaway. Wall-mounted, freestanding and countertop self-service models ensure operators are maximising space with the option best suited to their business. Also: location matters! Strategically placing kiosks that encourage customers to order is crucial.
Implementation of self-service kiosks in any hospitality setting can offer exponential value. By streamlining the ordering process, minimising wait times and consistently prompting customers to increase order spend, self-ordering kiosks offer a unique edge for restaurants competing in an ever-evolving market. An increasing number of patrons are displaying a preference for self-service options; it’s vital for operators to understand and – where possible – adapt to these growing trends in order to provide a quality, incomparable experience that transforms patrons into regulars.
Eastwood, M. (2018, July 10). Reasons Why Your Restaurant Needs Self-Service Kiosks. Retrieved from appetize.com: https://appetize.com/why-your-restaurant-needs-self-service-kiosks/
Klein, D. (2018, March). Study: Kiosk Demand on the Rise in Quick Service. Retrieved from QSR Magazine: https://www.qsrmagazine.com/technology/study-kiosk-demand-rise-quick-service
Langford, G. (2019). 2019 Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook. Retrieved from Deloitte: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/travel-hospitality-industry-outlook.html
Verifone. (n.d.). Kiosks Reshaping. Verifone.