If you haven’t been into a McDonalds store in the last couple of years, you’re in for a big surprise the next time you venture under the ‘golden arches’. Counter service is now all but gone, largely superseded by a bank of touchscreen panels inviting you to place your order at them.
This trend of replacing personal order taking by a staff member with an integrated self-order device controlled directly by the customer, whether a touchscreen kiosk, mobile application or electronic menu, is being widely adopted in the fast food and QSR sector, and the trend is moving across to the café and restaurant industries.
So what are the reasons behind the change? Should you consider these alternatives for your hospitality venue?
Here are 5 reasons why businesses are shifting to customer self-ordering technology:
Improves in-house efficiency
With customers selecting and submitting orders themselves, there is less room for miscommunication and mistakes. The customer can view their order and provide confirmation, and the order is sent directly to the kitchen via the controlling POS system. This can also positively impact on meal production and delivery. When a customer wishes to order additional items (another drink, or dessert) this can be done without waiting for assistance and be delivered quickly.
Saves on staff costs
In the case of QSRs and fast food outlets, the saving on staff is more readily apparent, with the requirement for counter staff greatly reduced. With table service venues, the saving largely comes with more efficient usage of waitstaff time. The focus can shift from the somewhat rudimentary activity of order taking to more customer-service oriented tasks that add to the dining experience.
Upselling invitations are more consistently promoted
One of the key ways that hospitality businesses can increase average customer spend is through offering premium extras. While waitstaff and servers can ask the appropriate upsell questions, there is a limit to how much can be offered without seeming too pushy or overwhelming the customer with too many choices. However, many venues using self-ordering technology express that little such reluctance occurs when using electronic kiosks or menus, despite the fact that more options are being offered more consistently through the use of these devices.
Customers are more likely to order more
There is strong evidence to suggest that customers will also naturally order more from a screen than they would from a person. Perhaps there is a perception of judgement on the part of a staff member that doesn’t occur when ordering from a device. Or it may be that suggestive selling, such as optional extras, is easier to take up when self-ordering. Whatever the reason, many sites that have added this technology report a considerable increase in average sale, which goes a long way toward paying for the purchase of the equipment in the first place.
Younger customers tend to prefer technology
The target demographic for most hospitality venues has now grown up with online shopping and mobile smart devices, using the internet to gather information and bypassing human interaction in favour of the efficiency of electronic transactions. So it is little wonder that this generation is happily adopting self-order devices. Additionally, the dining experience becomes self-paced and more convenient – customers in a hurry can order and be served quickly, circumventing more traditional ‘first in, first served’ models.
There are sound reasons for considering adopting integrated self-order technology in your café and restaurant. Analyse the potential benefits it could have on your business profitability. Ask your current POS supplier about alternatives that can be added on to your existing system, or investigate reputable hospitality tech brands that have a solution that will suit your venue.
Note: The information in this article is based on anecdotal evidence provided through discussions with restauranteurs, articles and comments by industry sources, and internet research. You are encouraged to further research this topic when deciding whether this technology would be suitable for your business.