According to a survey by Tillster, 60% said they would visit fast casual or quick service chains more often if self-service kiosks were offered. Restaurants of all kinds have been employing tablets and kiosks that allow consumers to quickly order and receive their food without much human interaction. McDonald’s and Panera are the leading quick service food chains that have kiosks in the front of the restaurant so consumers don’t have to deal with someone at the counter. In sit-down restaurants the tablets found at tables can quicken the ordering process and entertain while guests wait for their food. Though different, these two types work in favor of the consumer and can better their experiences.
Panera first debuted their ordering kiosk in 2015; they were the first major chain to do so. Depending on location size, Panera typically deploys four to eight kiosks, and has sometimes even removed cash registers in favor of them. Consumers have taken a liking to the kiosks, as the chain has seen sales increases since implementing them. In addition, kiosks see a 20% higher average ticket over ordering at the counter; the pictures displayed just look so good and people feel okay about adding the extra cookie with no one judging them. Kiosks are also great for chains like Panera that specialize in customization as kiosks take away the hassle of human error when customizing items. With that, they speed up the ordering process for consumers.
Kiosks (or tablets) at sit-down restaurants can be found on the tables. Diners can use these tablets for making requests like getting a refill or getting extra napkins. Servers are still around to actually serve everything. Tablets also feature games that can entertain guests while they wait (usually for a price). Some restaurants like T.G.I Friday’s and Chuck E. Cheese equip their servers with tablets so orders and requests can be sent to the kitchen in real time. All of the tablets, no matter how they are used, are connected together via the cloud (SaaS) so requests and payments can be processed centrally. This also allows for new updates to be made to all individual units at once. These easy-to-use tablets speed up the dining process so restaurants can turn more tables and serve more guests.
A popular feature of the tableside kiosks is the ability to pay at the kiosk, which quickens closing out the bill. The speed and ease of paying on the kiosks is worth it for many consumers. “More than 70 percent [of Applebee’s diners] interact with the tablets, and more than 50 percent of those guests will use it for payment,” says Charlie Jones, executive director of digital and guest-facing technology for Applebee’s parent company DineEquity. Paying on the kiosks also makes it easy to divide the bill between multiple guests at the table.
With the kiosk market expected to reach $1 billion by 2021, don’t be late to the game. Increasing sales and quickening the process for diners is worth the initial investment. “We have dramatically increased our sales in the last two months since we installed tableside ordering and payments,” says Tom Marcellino, co-owner of Calzolaio Pasta Company. “I’ve estimated it saves a minimum of 15 minutes to half an hour per table.” Numbers like that don’t lie.
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