Self-Ordering Kiosks Offer Customers Customization Options
In-store self-ordering kiosks offer customers the convenience of placing their orders exactly how they want them on an easy-to-read and hopefully, easy-to-use digital interface that isn’t dependent on a Wi-Fi connection, their cell phone’s provider or the restaurant’s app that might be buggy. Self-ordering kiosks are
designed to cut down on long lines at the register, encourage larger orders from hungry patrons and negate any errors in the order process.
But, is this digital convenience too severe a threat to customer engagement?
Benefits of self-ordering kiosks
According to Brittain Brown, president of GIVEX, kiosks actually empower customers, because at a kiosk, the customer is completely in control of his order; by taking the “ordering” out of the human customer service equation, an operator or restaurant staffer is able to focus on the product, which is really the reason a customer patronizes a restaurant in the first place.
“The main appeal of self-checkout kiosks is to make the ordering process more efficient. Operators are not looking to hire fewer staff members but to utilize them in other roles that help with improving the experience of patrons,” says Tim Powell, managing principal of Foodservice IP. “Staff is able to walk around and strike up conversations with guests to make sure they are satisfied.”
Kiosks can also offer customers information that staff members can’t as well as deliver operators vital data that can help their restaurant grow.
“Kiosk software also offers important features such as customer analytics, sales reporting across multiple locations and immediate menu updates with transparency around ingredients and nutritional information,” according to Saleem S. Khatri, CEO of Lavu, a restaurant management platform.
Brown adds that kiosk software can offer operators an easy way to present loyalty programs to their customers. The upsell opportunity is greater with the kiosk, too, thanks to clear imagery and immediate pricing.
Powell agrees, “Another benefit is that customers actually tend to spend more — with the added ability to display bundling and final pricing. Seems to be paradoxical to the hospitality dogma, however.”
Drawbacks of self-ordering kiosks
Operators hesitant to lose face time with their customers for even one second, might also be swayed from installing a self-ordering kiosk in their restaurant due to cost.
“Cost is a barrier to entry especially since there’s a variety of costs depending on where you want to be,” Brown says.
According to Jovan Milenkovic, co-founder of KommandoTech, costs can range from $200 to several thousand dollars depending on the kiosk you choose — a tablet or a full-blown wall-mounted device.
“Industry estimates put the typical cost per kiosk (which includes the display, scanner, credit card reader and receipt printer) at about $5,000, $10,000 depending on functions,” according to Powell.
Then there’s the software itself. You need the kiosk to be as versatile, complete and programmable as possible for every item on your menu and every customer preference. You’ll want a complex system that allows for customization, advises Brown.
“And it’s not just about creating a menu. It’s about offering the customizations to the items that customers have become accustomed to. I need to be able to order a Caesar salad with no capers. I need to order my pizza with pepperoni on only half… All of these things need to be accounted for when you design the kiosk interface,” according to Shayne Sherman, CEO of TechLoris.
Customer perspective on self-ordering kiosks
Efficiency, upsell opportunities, nutritional data and analytics, although valuable to operators and important to some customers, might not be interesting to everyone who walks through your door eager for a slice of pizza or your famous calzone.
“There is also the possibility that people just won’t like having to rely on technology to order and pay for their meal. Our data shows that more than three-quarters of consumers still prefer to order in-person at a restaurant — so there is work to do,” according to Powell.
Of course, customer perspective and opinions are ever-changing.
“Shockingly, people were not thrilled with the concept of the self-ordering kiosks when they first started popping up. In 2018, 78 percent of people said they wouldn’t go to a restaurant that offered a self-ordering kiosk. In 2019, conversely, 65 percent of those surveyed said they’d visit more often if a restaurant offered them. And, 30 percent of those said they’d prefer the kiosk to an actual cashier,” according to Sherman.
Front of house prep for self-ordering kiosks
If your restaurant already offers online ordering and/or an app or you’re ready to implement a digital interface because your customers have indicated they prefer a tech option when ordering, a self-ordering kiosk in store can serve your customers well and help with so much more than just customer orders in your operation.
“For operators looking at the future of their front of house operations, they can now streamline operations with one integrated system. This means a restaurant can have its point of sale, self-ordering kiosk and back of house software synced up to ensure accurate communication and comprehensive data analytics,” according to Khatri.
But, don’t forget to factor into your operational budget upkeep costs in your tech investment.
“I think it’s important to remember that there are maintenance and replacement costs with every technology you invest in. So the bigger and more complex the infrastructure and devices in your establishment, the more it will cost to keep them running over the years,” according to Milenkovic. “However, I still think that the overall increase in profits and savings from installing self-serving kiosks outweigh the yearly maintenance costs, not to mention intangible benefits such as an
improved customer journey. ”
A self-ordering kiosk offers customers more control over their order and as long as you provide a comprehensive platform, you’ll benefit not only from a more efficient ordering process but also upsell opportunities leading to larger orders. In order for customers to embrace the functionality of a self-ordering kiosk, make sure your staff takes special attention to engage with your customers throughout every facet of their visit, including ordering, especially if they are new to the kiosk.
DeAnn Owens is a freelance journalist living in Dayton, Ohio. She specializes in features and human-interest stories.