Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey contains a glimpse at the future of self-service kiosk commerce. During the film’s opening vignette, a horde of uncivilized proto-humans discovers a stand-alone, sleek black source of all knowledge with a touch-sensitive surface that transforms the primitive people’s lives.
The genius director probably had a deeper meaning in mind with this parable, but add your favorite fast food logo to the black monolith and a little more civility to the gathered masses and it could be a forebear of the modern QSR kiosk.
Now, the modern monolith isn’t going to incite anyone to violence, but there are some pros and cons to operating kiosk POS systems. Get it right, and it’s a font of all knowledge. Get it wrong, and it’s a prelude to disaster. Here’s what you need to know to ensure that your kiosk POS serves and streamlines your business, and not the other way around.
Kiosk POS Systems – You Can’t Miss Them
The first thing you’ll notice about most kiosk systems, be they in a fast food outlet, retail setting, or open mall, is how noticeable they are. Kiosks can be as large as a refrigerator and can be just as clumsy within a flow of human traffic (though there are certainly sleeker, subtler models available).
The advantage of the kiosk is it gives customers the time and space to serve themselves. The goal is to provide either a faster service free of any queues or busy staff, or to provide greater depth, giving people time to search through a detailed catalog or series of elements.
The kiosks generally serve one of three purposes:
- Interactive signage. A multimedia display that entices the customer to sign-up, make a purchase, or hand over details in return for a reward.
- Self-service checkout/order. The kiosk directly replaces customer service staff, letting the customer order or pay for their service themselves.
- Further information. The kiosk offers more options, items, or services than are present in-store, expanding the customer experience and reducing the need to shop elsewhere.
Self-service kiosks have gained in popularity over recent years, with quick-service restaurants leading the way. Research in 2019 found 65% of customers would be more inclined to visit a restaurant if it had a kiosk, while in 2018 almost the reverse was true—75% of customers said they’d be less inclined to do so.
That research suggests there are some real-world advantages to a kiosk POS system.
Self-Service Kiosks – The Pros
Self-service commerce is a 100% buy-in on the adage that the customer knows best, and that they would rather do it themselves than wait for help. On the business side of matters, the hope is a kiosk will improve sales by reducing checkout times, increase the accuracy and speed of orders, and give customers the best of both the online and in-store experience.
Research has found using kiosks reduces waiting times in restaurants by up to 40%. That’s the headline appeal of the technology, and the resulting additional covers can lead to a significant increase in revenue. This can lead to the ability to reduce your staff spend and reduce waste by offering digital receipts.
If the customer knows what they want, get out of their way and let them order it. You’ll need to ensure your self-service hub is intuitive and touch-screen simple, but it’s possible to hand responsibility for dietary requirements and personal preferences directly to the diner.
Speaking of personal preferences—digitizing your menu lets customers mix and match their meals to find something worth returning for. Visual scripts make it easy for the kitchen to understand, and before long all your regulars will have their own signature sandwiches. You can also duplicate your self-service online to add an additional takeaway revenue stream,
Self-Service Kiosks – The Cons
Self-service can be highly efficient but it does dictate the ambiance of your restaurant and the space your guests can move through. While the financials are far more palatable now that software-as-a-service has made most tech available on subscription, you’re still going to have to augment your kiosk with some staff just in case things go astray. Finally, installing self-service means winning your customers’ trust when it comes to sharing their payment details.
These drawbacks can be overcome, but they do need to be acknowledged.
There’s a monolith in my soup
Kiosk POS systems take up a lot of room and change the dynamic of your QSR. You’ll need to account for the flow of traffic around them and leave enough space for customers who prefer the human touch to not feel alienated.
Self-service favors pay-before-you-dine delivery that maintains speed. That leaves your customer to fend for themselves when buying their meal. Many of us have experience using contactless technology, but you’ll have to make a commitment to extra work if you want to help those who prefer traditional payment methods.
We still need servers
Airports are prime examples of the incomplete nature of automation. While self-check-in means that phase of the journey can be completed in less than 60 seconds, there is little that can be done about lengthy security and customs checks. Similar problems can arise with self-help services. Every unfamiliar or uncertain customer slows down the flow, and every modification that doesn’t appear on the menu warrants staff intervention.
You can avoid many of the problems of kiosk-style self-help by adopting a more mobile, less intrusive version.
The Agile Solution
If you reduce the sheer size of your self-help touch-points, you can introduce some efficiencies into the system. A kiosk POS system based around iPad hubs and multimedia self-help menus can be a more practical and flexible solution. It’s certainly one with more promise for smaller spaces and family restaurants.
You can still put the ordering power in your customer’s hands, giving them control over when and what, but you free up physical space and reduce your tech spend. It’s also a more personal service people can share like a traditional menu, and you can add entertainment apps to help pass the (still reduced) wait time.
The result is not as dramatic as Kubrick’s searing monolith, but it’s one that does better represent the sleek, digital future of the 2020s.
When you partner with talech you get access to the best in 2020 business advantages. Our kiosk POS systems can be fully customized to suit your quick-service restaurant and meet the needs of your staff, kitchen, and customers. Reach out to us today to sign up for a demo and to learn more about how talech can be your valued POS partner.