What You Need to Know About Restaurant Kiosks

One of the major factors that can detract customers from your restaurant is long lines and long wait times. Customers want to make their orders and have their food delivered as fast as possible. To address the challenges of delayed service delivery, the use of restaurant kiosks has emerged and grown at an incredible speed. It makes the food ordering process more efficient and eliminates customer frustration over waiting in line to place their orders.

The kiosk system of placing food orders has become a preference for customers, especially the millennials. In fact, about 79% of customers believe that restaurant kiosk improves their experience by offering a quick and convenient way to get food. If you are a restaurateur and you are considering setting up a restaurant kiosk, this article will highlight what you need to know.

Evolution of Restaurant Self Service Kiosks

Traditionally, customers are used to taking initiatives at many dining establishments. This is through placing their orders at the counters or choosing food items they want from a buffet. The model has been widely accepted as a way of allowing guests to order and receive their meals in shorter times. In the recent past, this same model has evolved to kiosk systems with self-checkout screens.

With the emergence of ordering kiosks systems, customers can now scan and select on-screen menus before placing their orders. The process is fully automated without any human involved as payments can be made via credit cards. For some of the major fast-food establishments, the self-service kiosk has become the norm to meet the increasing customer demands. Big brands like Taco Bell and McDonald have already set up restaurant kiosks in almost all their locations.

For small restaurant chains, they are using technological innovations to join the trend. One of the ways they are doing this is by incorporating digital tablets at their tables showcasing their menu specials. The tablets have the option to order meals or drinks and make payments, allowing the restaurant to meet increased customer demands. With this becoming the norm, many restaurant owners are considering adding the kiosk technology in their business model.

How Restaurant Kiosks Work

The easiest way to understand how restaurant kiosks work is thinking of a touchscreen ordering of food. This is a guest-facing restaurant POS system where customers browse through a digital version of a restaurant menu. They then select the items they want and customize how items they needed in the order. The last step is to place the order and make the payment without the need to involve a human cashier. Payment can be done through credit cards or mobile payment options (NFC).

Once the order has been placed, the customer selection is sent straight to the kitchen. The order is instantly synced with the restaurant POS system and taken through the other ordinary stages of ordering food.

Types of Businesses that Integrate Restaurant Kiosk

Restaurant kiosks are becoming normal among fast-casual restaurants and quick-service restaurant chains. The self-serve kiosks are usually placed near the entrance where guests browse menus, place their orders, and pay without having to stand in line. Other types of restaurant businesses like fine dining and bars are using tablet menus, which are more versatile. These restaurants place a tablet on the table, where customers can make their orders instead of having to go through waitstaff.

Why Customers and Businesses Prefer Restaurant Kiosks

The main argument that has been placed against restaurant kiosks is that the touchscreen ordering will make restaurant customer service less personal. Concerns have been raised that touchscreens are making the ordering process more robotic. However, the opposite is proving to be true. In fact, both customers and businesses prefer touchscreen ordering because of its convenience.

Restaurant kiosks promote bonding among the staff. Servers spend less time taking order from the client and running to the kitchen. By focusing on one area only, they become more effective while bonding with guests and their colleagues. This new approach to restaurant ordering provides instant gratification. For instance, tablet menus will also stay at the table and customers can update their orders at any time. They may want another round of drinks and order more appetizers simply by selecting that on the tablets.

Restaurant kiosks and tablet menus allow a customer to order exactly what they want. They do not have to be limited on the exact menu but can decide to mix up things to build a totally new meal. The touchscreens allow you to be creative and personalize your meal to get exactly what you want. The ability to personalize and customize your order also means that the touchscreen considers the dietary preferences of different customers. Customers who follow special dietary lifestyles like vegan, keto, paleo, or gluten-free can choose the meals that they love from the digital menu list.

How to Set Up a Self-service Restaurant Kiosk

         If you are thinking of setting up a self-service restaurant kiosk, several stages are involved:

  •     Identify Customer Experience: You need to think about the kind of user experience you want to design for your customers. Understand who your target customers are, their needs, and how the kiosk can address those needs.
  •     Choose a Language: Choose a language that is used by your customer. While English may be your first choice, you may consider a second or third language depending on the kind of customers you attract.
  •     Customize Your Kiosk: Customize your touchscreen to include everything that a customer may need. For instance, you may include a Get Help button to help customers with the common challenges faced when interacting with the kiosk. An alternative would be a simple How it Works options to guide the customer on the steps involved in using the kiosk.
  •     Provide Order Options: Provide a variety of options for ordering food. You may include options such as eating in for diners or take away. Depending on the kind of customers you receive, an eat-in and takeaway option may be feasible as well.
  •     Customize Dishes: Your restaurant kiosk needs to have a variety food to choose from. Customize you dishes so that your restaurant can stand out from the rest. Provide the option for the customers to personalize their order, and be creative on the combination of the food that they want to order. This also includes the ability to add and remove ingredients before placing an order.
  •     Integrate a Payment System: Your restaurant kiosk is only complete if customers are allowed to make a payment on the system without having to engage a human cashier. Once a customer has selected the items they want, they should be able to proceed to checkout and make a payment. Since the entire process is digitally driven, make sure you have integrated the appropriate payment methods. This may include payment via card using a pun, magstripe, EMV chip, or contactless payments using NFC.
  •     Integrate Kiosks to Your POS: Your restaurant kiosk should be fully integrated to your restaurant point of sale. You need to have a way of tracking the sales make through the kiosks, the inventory used, and the payment received. The whole process should be seamless and cover all the necessities needed to place an order and have the food ready. Integrating the kiosk system to the restaurant point of sale ensures that the business is running as one. 

Benefits of Restaurant Kiosks

What makes the restaurant kiosks an attractive business model is the ordering process. The model makes the ordering process in a restaurant more efficient, meeting the needs and expectations of the customers. Fast food chains benefit the most from this aspect since the process is automated, meaning that all employees optimally improve customer experience. For instance, restaurants no longer have to employ people at the cashier registers. Instead, they recruit more staff for assembling orders reducing wait times, and delivering orders quickly.

Restaurant kiosks improve the customization and accuracy of orders. For many years, order accuracy has been an issue, especially in quick-service restaurants. Customers usually go through a frustrating experience whenever they want to request an order change via the food counter. Apart from the process being slow, the changes are never accurate. However, restaurant kiosks allow customers to add, edit, or delete ingredient of their orders and create any specifications on how they want their food to be prepared.

For fast casuals, restaurant kiosks provide an opportunity to make more sales. Normally, customers tend to spend more on self-checkout kiosks compared to traditional food counters. When placing orders, the kiosk system tends to upsell other menu items before checkout. The tablet and kiosk menus usually include menu prompts, which recommend extras. For instance, when a guest selects a salad on the menu, a pop may appear asking whether they would like to add chicken for $5.

In terms of the bottom line, restaurant kiosks increase the profitability of a restaurant business. As an emerging modern restaurant technology, kiosks integrate touchscreen ordering that boosts sales. In McDonald’s the integration of restaurant kiosks in their business model boosted its quick-service restaurants. The company reported an increase in the average check size by 30% whenever guests use digital ordering. A similar trend was reported by Taco Bell, where kiosks increased average check sizes increased by about 20%.

Feasibility of Restaurant Kiosks

Before deciding to integrate a restaurant kiosk into your business, you need to consider several factors. The first thing you need to consider is the kind of customer that you have and your type of restaurant. You need to ensure that your customers will respond positively to self-checkout kiosks. For instance, fast-casual restaurants tend to appeal to a younger customer who may respond positively to self-serve kiosks. On the contrary, a sit-in establishment that offers a relaxed atmosphere may not respond well to the kiosk model. Such restaurants can benefit from a human touch.

Take time to get feedback from your customers and waitstaff. If the customers are excited about a system where they can serve themselves, then the kiosk model may work. You may also consider to set up a restaurant kiosk if service is taking too long or the lines are the counter tend to be long at specific times of the day. Having a kiosk will help you overcome challenges associated with multiple menu options, ordering, and payments.