Editor Note: We do interviews with magazines (recently for NRN) and in those we express what we call “ad hoc” opinions based on what we have seen and heard.
For sure, QSR orders for self-service kiosks have declined in certain segments. Drive-Thru has been steady through all of this. But orders from your usual fast-casual companies serving that market and others of the world have dropped off substantially. Most places don’t allow people to come indoors so a kiosk doesn’t make sense.
There is a lot of talk that tells us there is serious pent up demand though. We think we’ll see an explosion of various kiosks as people start to re-open and look for a way to keep their costs in check.
Dealing with a machine or a phone has become primary as opposed to dealing with a person across all the verticals since the pandemic has started (healthcare for example and patient check-in).
My estimate is currently 40% but that number is headed down. More like 30% for the year expected as restaurants have had to really cut expenses. The decline of self-order machines’ order has stayed steady compared to other outlays. Drive-thru even more so.
When the pandemic struck (late March/early April) for comparison things came to a complete stop.
Since then we have seen people like Sonic and Taco Bell redesign their new restaurants to accommodate more mobile and drive up and pickup as opposed to in-store dining which is still problematic.
What About Point-Of-Sale?
It’s worth looking at Point-Of-Sale (POS) opportunities as well. In the SLED and Federal markets we see historically over $6B worth of opportunities, 6000 opportunities and an average value of 4M per opportunity. Right now we see 261 active opportunities. For contracts, add another $5B over 2000 contracts (1400 active).
Chain, hit hard by Manhattan closures, outlines pandemic-accelerated strategies tied to digital ordering and store formats; new Shack Track store debuts in Los Angeles; in-house delivery a priority, leaders say.
Tapit, a leading restaurant and retail-focused software vendor, has launched Selfit, a self order kiosk platform with accompanying online ordering via a mobile app and interface to the restaurant’s website. Purpose-built for the restaurant and retail industries, Tapit demonstrated its self-ordering platform at the National Restaurant Association 2019 Show.
According to an IHL Services research, 96% of adults aged 18-39 favored self-kiosks for food ordering. With Tapit, single restaurant locations or large chains can meet this demand and affordably install Selfit’s feature-rich, highly customizable and scalable technology.
“On average, Tapit self order kiosks increased each individual order by a remarkable 30% and 13% per branch,” said Eli Cohen, head of operations at New Deli restaurant chain.
Excerpt from BakeMag Jun article. Read full article
DENVER — The Denver Broncos, in conjunction with Aramark, formally unveiled concessions improvements at Empower Field at Mile High. They released a nice video going thru the various changes.
The key changes are to increase speed of service. In the video you can see Aramark highlighting the self-order stations from Appetize (made by Olea Kiosks).
“Empower Field at Mile High is constantly looking for ways to improve the fan experience, and we are confident that with Aramark as our concessionaire we can modernize how fans enjoy food and beverages at our stadium events,” Stadium General Manager, Empower Field at Mile High, Jay Roberts said. “We are also thrilled to debut several newly renovated concession stands on Sunday, which is the first step in a multi-year process to improve speed of service while also adding more variety to the menu.”
“We’re excited to expand our partnership with the Broncos and undertake this transformation of Empower Field at Mile High’s dining experience,” Jay Morrison, District Manager, Aramark’s Sports & Entertainment division, said. “We have a long, proud history of serving Denverites and, with our close ties to the community and knowledge of the local food scene, I’m confident we will deliver an innovative, dynamic and engaging food and beverage experience for everyone attending events at the stadium.”
The gist was that although major players like Subway, McDonald’s, Burger King and Arby’s started experimenting with kiosks in 2006, we had yet to see mass adoption in the restaurant space, despite kiosks’ rapid deployments in airports, grocery stores and casinos.
In technology terms, it has since been a lifetime. However, kiosks finally seem to be having their moment in the quick-service space.
Self-Order Kiosk Research
New research from Tillster shows that 25% of restaurant customers have used a self-ordering kiosk at a restaurant within the past three months—up 7% year-over-year. Further, more than 65% of customers said they would visit a restaurant more often if self-service kiosks were offered, and 30% of customers prefer to order from a kiosk versus a cashier if the lines were of equal length.
I have covered the restaurant industry since 2010 when I was named editor of QSRweb. I later added fast casual and pizza beats to my portfolio as editorial director of foodservice media. This coverage spanned the gamut of topics that make up the foodservice space, from marketing and customer service, to the supply chain and display technology. My work has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Crain’s Chicago, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine. I continue to serve as a contributor for many publications, including QSRweb, Food Dive, Innovation Leader and the Digital Signage Federation.
Preference for self-order seems to have swung positive over last 12 months (MSN poll quoted)
Younger customers contributing
Amazon trained us
Subway is big example nowadays
Wendy’s covers 2/3rds of locations. Thinks it has a return.
KFC to do 5000 by 2020
Taco Bell doing entire chain
Self-service market research by Tillster says 30.8 billion
Taco Bell Kiosk – Taco Bell president on kiosk: ‘It’s super fun’2019/06/24 Excerpt from Nation’s Restaurant News June 17, 2019 Editor’s Note: How China tariffs might affect this are in play. Taco Bell Kiosk consumer-facing technology efforts are in full force this year. On the heels of rolling out delivery nationwide in February, Taco Bell has quietly installed kiosks in about 4,000 restaurants. Rob Poetsch, spokesman for the Irvine, Calif.-based chain, …
Asian Grill Opens New Location with Self Order Kiosks 2019/06/21 Asian Grill Opens New Location with XPR Kiosks Asian Grill, known for its authentic regional cuisines, has recently implemented XPR’s self ordering kiosks and mobile application to help automate the ordering process. Along with the new equipment throughout the kitchen to help relay orders to the staff, these changes have helped to improve operational efficiency, check …
McDonald’s & Sonic Optimizing with Self Order AI Technology2019/06/20 Self-Order and AI Sonic McDonalds Read full article at PSFK From menus curated to individuals’ dietary needs to offers that adjust in real time to trends and even weather patterns, here’s how top food names like Sonic and THE.FIT are using AI to enable tailored food experiences Today’s consumers have more food options than ever. The ordering experience …
Tapit demonstrates unique self-ordering kiosk 2019/06/18 Excerpt from BakeMag Jun article. Read full article Tapit demonstrates unique self-ordering kiosk Courtesy of Tapit 06.11.2019 By John Unrein Tapit, a leading restaurant and retail-focused software vendor, has launched Selfit, a self-ordering kiosk platform with accompanying online ordering via a mobile app and interface to the restaurant’s website. Purpose-built for the restaurant and retail industries, Tapit demonstrated its self-ordering platform …
Inside Times Square McDonalds flagship – CNBC 2019/05/29 McDonalds Times Reprinted with permission in full from CNBC May 2019 & Amelie Lucas On Thursday, McDonald’s opened a new flagship store in Times Square, expected to be its busiest in the U.S. The location showcases the modern updates that McDonald’s has been bringing to its U.S. stores. It boasts digital menu boards, 18 self-order kiosks and wireless mobile …
Self-Order Kiosks – Forbes Article Having A Moment was last modified: July 31st, 2019 by News Editor
From menus curated to individuals’ dietary needs to offers that adjust in real time to trends and even weather patterns, here’s how top food names like Sonic and THE.FIT are using AI to enable tailored food experiences
Today’s consumers have more food options than ever. The ordering experience is incredibly important, and a good one can keep customers coming back time and time again. To help guests navigate drive-thru menus, companies like Sonic, McDonalds, and THE.FIT have incorporated AI into their ordering to create a seamless transaction.
Taken from PSFK’s Food Service Debrief report, take a look at how these innovators have redesigned ordering to offer personalization and enhanced convenience:
Sonic, Mastercard and ZIVELO
Global payment company Mastercard has partnered with self-service kiosk technology provider ZIVELO to trial AI-based voice ordering at select locations of the drive-in chain Sonic. At the restaurant, guests place their orders with an AI-powered voice assistant, while an integrated digital menu display can be customized in real time, taking into account context, like weather, time of day, season and location, as well as specific customer preferences. The system aims to streamline repeat orders and use data to offer personalized suggestions and loyalty rewards that are more relevant.
Mobile order and pay garnered quite a bit of attention, as did product vending solutions. One of the real stars of the show, however, was self-order kiosk technology thanks to their demonstrated ability to increase customer throughput and increase sales by automating suggestive selling.
Still, it’s not enough for a restaurant operator to just install a kiosk near the counter and wait for the orders to roll in. The design of the kiosk itself goes a long way toward encouraging customers to use the devices. In conjunction though the restaurant needs to ensure kitchen output matches up with kitchen input. Bakery café chain Panera Bread updated their kitchens first and then added kiosks and multi-channel ordering. The objective is more orders taken and fulfilled, faster.
There’s little doubt that self-order kiosks will be an central component of the QSR and fast-casual restaurant landscape going forward. McDonald’s expects to have self-order kiosks in most of its 14,000 restaurants by 2020, while Wendy’s currently has them in many of its 6,500-plus locations. Other fast-food operations are following suit, creating their own variations best-suited for their restaurant environments. More compact and less costly designs that are cost-effective to deploy are starting to become commonplace.
On the fast-casual side, Panera made self-order kiosks an integral part of its “Panera 2.0” effort, which it began rolling out in 2014. Before the company was taken private last year, officials indicated that sales increases at restaurants outfitted with the initiative were outpacing sales at those without the technology.
It’s evident that these companies and others wouldn’t be investing millions of dollars in self-order technology unless it had been proven to offer tangible benefits. To maximize those benefits, though, deployers should take a few critical factors into consideration when planning to incorporate self-order kiosks into their operations.
The user interface
Key to encouraging customers to use self-order kiosks on a regular basis is a clean, simple user interface. The order flow must be intuitive and easy to navigate. Choices should be presented logically, with similar items on the same page and accompanied by professionally shot images. Add-ons should be suggested where appropriate. Also, it should be easy for the customer to go back and make changes if they decide on a different selection.
Enclosure & mounting
It’s likely that some customers will need some degree of education to encourage them to use a self-order kiosk. For freestanding kiosks, the enclosure and attractor screen should include messaging that illustrates the kiosk’s purpose. Tablet-based kiosks should consist of nearby signage along with the attractor screen inviting users to bypass the line.
More importantly, self-order kiosks need to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Are the devices usable by someone in a wheelchair? What about a blind or visually impaired customer? Accessible by all should be ensured.
The last thing a restaurant deploying self-order kiosks wants is to be branded with the reputation that they don’t care about the disabled. On the flip side, the disabled will likely be a growing customer base if you support ADA. When it comes to self-order kiosks, ADA compliance is a minefield best navigated with the assistance of an experienced kiosk vendor, and possibly your legal department.
A kiosk is a collection of electronic components and as with any such device it will eventually need service, whether that be a simple cleaning or the replacement of a part. Can the unit be serviced easily and with a minimum of effort? Can parts be swapped out quickly, keeping downtime to a minimum?
Just as important, does the kiosk vendor offer phone support to assist deployers with service issues by phone, and service programs designed to resolve problems quickly when a site visit is required
The rest of the operation
One of the main reasons a restaurant operator will consider deploying a self-order kiosk is to alleviate congestion at the counter and increase order throughput. The misconception that self-order kiosks will help cut labor is just that: a misconception. Many restaurants that have deployed self-order kiosks reported an increase in sales, requiring more, not fewer employees to accommodate this influx.
However, increasing the rate at which orders arrive at the kitchen creates another problem. If the kitchen can’t keep up, the result will be long ticket times, crowding by the food pickup area, and ultimately, dissatisfied customers. People tend to order more when they order from the computer as well (25% more).
Consider, for example, the experience encountered by Starbucks when it released a mobile ordering app in 2015. The app led to a flood of orders, which in turn led to congestion at the drink hand-off area. Furthermore, many customers came in, saw the long lines, and naturally turned around and left.
To solve the issue, Starbuck’s added employees and implemented new systems that enabled stores to handle the additional orders. When Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants faced similar problems, they began implementing a second make line devoted solely to digital orders.
How restaurants handle orders coming in via self-order kiosks will likely be determined by customer flow and the design of the store itself. This could translate to different kiosk form factors being needed.
Much like anything else, a best practice is to train employees on how to utilize the kiosks. This is made much easier by deploying a kiosk that utilizes the same components used in the restaurants already. Still, training is important.
Think of it this way: If a restaurant installed a new point-of-sale system, they would train each employee on how to use it. Kiosks are no different. Employees should know how to direct traffic to the kiosks during rush hour properly, and how to service the units in a timely manner.
If employees recognize kiosks as a tool for them to use, rather than their competition, it is likely the devices will produce a much faster return on investment. Employees will be more willing to push customers to the kiosks, generating more usage and increasing average ticket size.
At the end of the day the best way to provide a self-order solution that improves the guest experience, simplifies the restaurant operation, and increases sales is to work with a kiosk vendor who is experienced in the deployment of self-order kiosks and has a track record of success. Olea Kiosks stands ready to help.
The Austin Kiosk from Olea Kiosks, for example, is a versatile solution available in multiple form factors so deployers can choose the one that best suits their needs. The kiosk is available in countertop, wall mount, and freestanding versions – all utilizing the exact same components to ensure that customers are always greeted with the same technology.
The Austin uses familiar POS components such as Elo Touch Solutions, Epson and STAR Micronics-brand printers, and industry-favorite Ingenico and Verifone EMV payment terminals.
For more information call 800.927.8063 or send an email to email@example.com
Self Order Kiosk Solutions Take Center Stage at Restaurant Show was last modified: June 17th, 2019 by News Editor
ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America, an industry leader in food services technology, announced today the launch of its new turnkey kiosk solution that provides restaurant customers an immersive, customized, and faster experience. The new solution will premiere at FSTEC 2018 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando on October 1-3, 2018, in Booth 801.
“Panasonic kiosks have proven that they drive a significantly higher check and that the guests using them experience an overall satisfaction similar to or greater than those placing their orders directly with staff,” said Michael D. Clarke, Owner, Lickety Split Food Services, LLC, a Texas Dairy Queen multi-unit franchisee.
Panasonic’s end-to-end platform is managed at the enterprise level, allowing chain restaurants to deploy large installations easily and efficiently. The enterprise-grade application features full Point-of-Sale and Payment integration, a cloud-based enterprise management portal, flexible screen design, highly responsive user interface, suggestive selling, and order customization throughout the customer ordering journey.
“The highly intuitive, digital user interface promotes customer engagement, increases restaurant sales and profits, and frees up staff to tend to other business needs,” said M. Faisal Pandit, SVP and Chief Digital Officer, Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America. “Customers interact with kiosks in myriad venues and have come to expect that same connectivity in restaurants too. And kiosks can have a significant impact on sales and profits with transaction uplifts of 20%-30% versus the traditional counter.”
Restaurant brands can have one strategic partner for a comprehensive menu of hardware choices, software, and consulting, with full deployment and after-installation services that can help scale self-ordering kiosks across an entire enterprise with speed and agility.
About Panasonic Corporation of North America Newark, NJ-based Panasonic Corporation of North America is a leading technology partner to businesses, government agencies and consumers across the region. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Osaka, Japan-based Panasonic Corporation and leverages its strengths in Immersive Entertainment, Sustainable Energy, Automated Supply Chains and Connected Solutions to provide secure and resilient integrated solutions for B2B customers. Panasonic was highlighted in Forbes Magazine’s Global 2000 ranking as one of the Top Ten Best Regarded Companies for 2017. The ranking is based on outstanding scores for trustworthiness, honesty with the public and superior performance of products and solutions. Learn more about Panasonic’s ideas and innovations at Panasonic.com.
Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. introduces expanded line of self-ordering kiosks
GRAFTON, WI – Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. is proud to present the latest additions to its self-service kiosk line. In addition to its original freestanding Approach floor unit, available as both a 32- and 22-inch touchscreen, the company has now expanded the roster to include a countertop unit, tablet, and wall unit.
The new line marries smart design with different sizes, offering an array of customization options and brand personalization – all while being backed by Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.’s trusted name in delivering experience and unsurpassed quality in the interactive kiosk market.
“From the quick service restaurant utilizing the freestanding unit to the luxury hotel looking for a countertop kiosk, the Approach line gives brands a wide selection of self-service kiosks to meet their specific needs,” says Mike Mayer, President of Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. “The Approach kiosks provide solutions for any self-service environment.”
In addition to operating within quick service and fast casual restaurants, Approach self-service kiosks offer functionality for a variety of other markets including retail, hospitality, automotive, home improvement, grocery, cannabis dispensaries, and more.
Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. is a leader in the development of in-store merchandising displays, interactive kiosks, and store fixtures for brands and retailers nationwide. The company helps retailers and brands utilize the latest display solutions and technologies to create engaging customer experiences. For more information on the Approach family of kiosks, visit www.frankmayer.com/approach.
David Anzia, Senior Vice President of Sales
Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.
1975 Wisconsin Ave., Grafton, WI 53024
(855) 294-2875 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Self-Service Kiosks Meeting Customer Service Needs – Frank Mayer Expands Line was last modified: March 22nd, 2019 by News Editor
Chick-Fil-A Now at School Campus with Self-Order Kiosks
New to the nation and new to the APSU campus, Chick-fil-A order-taking kiosks were officially debuted to students on Monday, Jan. 14. The kiosks are located in the Morgan University Center food court. Lauren Fladger, Senior Leader of Chick-fil-A’s Service and Hospitality team, said “[Austin Peay] is the first college campus that Chick-fil-A has been really involved with the implementation of kiosks.”
Construction for these kiosks began in December and was completed just in time for the Spring semester. There are a total of three kiosks and customers can easily navigate the touch screens when fulfilling their orders.
The kiosks will automatically change menus depending on the time; properly formatting to breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
Upon completion, students or guests will be shown an order confirmation on the kiosk screen and receive a printed receipt. After that, customers can get into line to receive their order from Chick-fil-A’s counter.
Craig is a senior staff writer for Kiosk Industry Group Association. He has 25 years of experience in the industry. He contributed to this article.
Chick-Fil-A Kiosks Installed on Campus was last modified: January 17th, 2019 by News Editor
Editors Note: We originally reported this on November 28 and continued to monitor this story from the UK to see how it developed. It originated on the tabloid website — https://metro.co.uk/ which generally publishes things that only some people on Facebook are looking to believe.
The article below came out on a tabloid and it certainly bears a closer inspection before taking it at face value.
Not that screens don’t need to be cleaned. They do. And they are treated with antimicrobial treatments to ensure they stay as clean as possible.
Editors Note: It is amazing to us the number of top-tier, presumably news organizations that felt compelled to excerpt a tabloid site and push it out to the masses though. Maybe our current President is correct in some fashion here. They need to revisit their ethics. Being first and being the most extreme in delivery can reverse the criminal act here in our opinion. I don’t eat at McDonalds but I do read the news. I’d rather not read tabloids or a rehash of one.
Sad to see kiosk niche sites propagate this with no restraint. Are they working for the self-service industry or for a buck? Appears to be a buck…
Excerpt: “Poo found on every McDonald’s touch screen tested.”
So says a tabloid headline that conjures an image of stool smeared on McDonald’s self-order touch screens ― you know, those giant screens that people touch just before they eat their cheeseburgers.
But the reality is far more mundane, not the public health pandemonium this headline suggests.
No, there is no poop on McDonald’s touch screens. There are, however, bacteria — a lot of them. These are the same bacteria that live in people’s gut, intestines, nose, skin, mouth, throat and, yes, stool. Some live in soil and water. The article with the aforementioned headline lists the harmful bacteria that were found on the touch screens of several McDonald’s restaurants in the London area. It notes the infections and diseases people could get from them.
Also — The McDonalds order kiosk manufacturers in the US, Canada and Rest of World are using a special hardened AntiGrafitti powder coating which is resistant against aggressive, disinfecting cleaning substances. It is unknown what kind of surface treatment is used or done by the UK manufacturer.
Maintenance and design are critical steps and even more critical when it is a multi-national deployment that involves multiple providers in the supply chain. We would estimate as high as 7-10 kiosk manufacturers involved across the world. This incident is just some restaurants in the UK.
These strains of bacteria are not “an active threat to human health but something to be monitored,” one of the study’s authors said in a statement.
Additional excerpt: Matewele said he did not intend to place any blame on the fast-food giant and only wanted to raise awareness, especially among people who consume food at restaurants or other public places.
“If people know about it, they can do something. … They can probably take something like an anti-bacterial cleanser,” Matewele said.
In a statement, McDonald’s said: “Our self-order screens are cleaned frequently throughout the day with a sanitizer solution. All of our restaurants also provide facilities for customers to wash their hands before eating.”
Traces of feces have been found on every single McDonald’s touchscreen swabbed in an investigation by metro.co.uk. Samples were taken from the new machines that have been rolled out at restaurants across the country – every one of them had coliforms.
Metro.co.uk’s study with the university’s school of human sciences involved swabs taken from eight McDonald’s restaurants. Six in London and two in Birmingham.
A McDonald’s spokesman said: ‘Our self-order screens are cleaned frequently throughout the day. All of our restaurants also provide facilities for customers to wash their hands before eating.’
The following is excerpt from the latest whitepaper by Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. covering Self-Service Kiosks in Quick Service and Fast Casual. See the complete whitepaper on the Frank Mayer website.
Enhanced Customer Service
Recent industry news pertaining to quick service restaurants (QSRs) and fast casual establishments has shined a spotlight on a growing trend in both sectors – the desire to enhance the customer experience through digital measures.
Included among the numerous digital options has been the growth of self-service kiosks where customers independently order food and pay using a touchscreen versus placing an order to a cashier behind a register.
In the April 2018 Restaurant Readiness IndexTM by PYMNTS.com in collaboration with Bypass and Bank of America Merchant Services, 41 percent of restaurant participants surveyed regarding 2017 Q4 data indicated they had implemented in-store kiosks, a four percent increase over the previous quarter. Kiosks were also the in-store feature that represented the greatest improvement since the previous study, showcasing the steady momentum behind restaurants incorporating self-order kiosk programs into their growth plans.
There are many advantages to QSRs and fast casuals adopting self-order strategies, but three well-documented beneits include enhanced customer service, improved productivity and increased profits. The solid growth and attractive benefits of self-service kiosks means we’ll continue to see our favorite QSRs and fast casual restaurants set themselves apart from the competition.
Editors Note : Article for Kiosk Industry by Francie Mendelsohn of Summit Research Associates. Francie is highly respected industry consultant with many years of experience and we are pleased to publish a new article by her. Thanks to Richard Slawsky for serving as editor.
When Summit Research Associates began testing kiosks more than 20 years ago, many of the usability issues we encountered were attributable to the hardware available at the time. Kiosks allowing customers to create their own greeting cards, for example, depended upon pen-plotters to complete the task! (Affordable color laser printers had not yet been invented.) No wonder people got tired of waiting for their custom designs to be completed only to be exasperated by the quality of the finished card because the ink colors ran out unevenly.
Today, many of those deterrents are long gone. The power of the microprocessors running the kiosks have increased exponentially, the Internet is robust and reliable, people are no longer intimidated by keyboards and—because of the widespread use of smartphones and tablets—touchscreens are second nature to almost everyone.
Self-checkout kiosks have been a long-established segment of the kiosk industry. First deployed at grocery stores, they are now a common sight at stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Not all installations have been successful, though. IKEA pulled their units from all US-based stores several years ago because of constant failures, especially in the use of the hand-held scanner. This peripheral is a requirement when checking out the huge boxes containing many of the install-it-yourself products at the home furnishings chain. The tethered scanner was used to read the bar code but it was very fussy; customers either held the device too close to the bar code or too far away. The result: the item was not scanned successfully.
As a result, it was common to observe frustrated customers loading everything back into their shopping cart and finding another kiosk to use. The instructions on the touchscreen never provided even a hint as to where to place the scanner for successful “reading.”
In addition, IKEA did not give customers any choice; you either had to use the kiosks or walk away empty-handed. All the checkout lines consisted of a kiosk, with none staffed by a human being. They also had few store employees nearby to help confused customers complete their purchase.
Unfortunately, a number of kiosks deployed today continue to disappoint and frustrate users. What may look like hardware issues are actually software deficiencies. In this article we will look at two Self-Checkout kiosk deployments, illustrating one that is highly successful and one that is anything but. Because we have long seen that would-be kiosk providers and users will remember the failures far more often than the successes, we will devote the bulk of the discussion to that less-than-successful deployment.
Johns Hopkins University self-checkout vending kiosk.
The Rockville, Md., campus of Johns Hopkins University consists of three buildings and shares space and parking with the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute. A snack bar providing food such as hot and cold sandwiches, soups and beverages, chips, candy bars and other desserts was in operation for many years, but because much of the traffic flow was dependent upon the school schedule, it increasingly became a money-losing proposition and closed for good in Spring 2017.
Students and faculty were not pleased by this turn of events, complained frequently and resulted in management finally providing a solution.
In October, Baltimore-based Black Tie Services installed a series of refrigerated units and shelving in an alcove just off the communal dining area in the main building (Gilchrist Hall) to provide much of the food previously available at the snack bar. Called Bistro to Go!, it allows people to select (mostly) snack food and beverages and pay at the kiosk located near the middle of the space. Black Tie Services is part of Accent Food Services, a national organization that primarily deploys “Micro Markets” and sells hot beverages.
The food and beverages are attractively displayed but there are no prices shown. Accent offers an App, USConnectMe™ at many of their locations that allows customers to pay for their purchases, earn points and add value with a special enrolled card similar to the popular Starbucks card. This is indicated by a square red button near the lower right corner of the touchscreen.
The developers expect customers to scan the products they are buying to determine the price. The entire success (and failure) of the kiosk depends on that scanner. Unfortunately, until customers “get the hang of it,” the scanner either does not recognize the UPC or it scans the same item repeatedly. There are no helpful hints on the large touchscreen showing customers how close they need to be to allow the scanner to read the bar code. The scenario is very similar to what prompted IKEA to remove its kiosks. Because of these scanner issues, it is common to see people waiting in line to pay for their food during busy periods.
There is a closed-circuit camera that (hopefully) keeps customers honest. Still, the struggle customers experience trying to get the scanner to recognize the items they are purchasing is likely to promote dishonesty–unless other people are waiting to pay and offer to help.
The kiosk sports a large (approximately 11×16-inch) vertically-mounted touchscreen. Yet it does not include How-To instructions. Instead, the developers have placed a rugged plastic sign on the counter listing all the instructions. This is foolish. What if someone were to (deliberately or inadvertently) remove the sign? Then customers would have no idea how to proceed Furthermore, the sign is too low to the ground, making it difficult to read for anyone not in a wheelchair.
Most people will try (repeatedly) to pay for the food they have selected. They will scan their food, which then appears on the screen as a running total, just as a grocery store kiosk works. A very loud voice informs the purchaser (and everyone else nearby) the items that are being purchased. They are then asked to “Select a pay method.” This is unnecessary because the only payment method is via credit card.
The customer is shown an illustration of how to insert their credit card. Now look at the photo of the credit card reader itself.Is it any wonder that people are confused? There is an icon on the reader itself but it is low to the ground and black-on-black is hard to read.
That aforementioned red USConnectMe button is also the cause of much customer frustration at this location. It doesn’t work but people touch it anyway. (In fairness to the customer: how do they know it doesn’t work?) Instead, a screenful of information about loading value on to the card appears which serves to further confuse students. And it dramatically adds to the time it takes for a student to complete his transaction; it is not at all easy to return to the previous screen. I personally witnessed longer (than usual) lines to pay when someone touched this button. The designers should adhere to our long-held rule: if a button is not relevant, REMOVE IT!
Finally, the customer is asked if he/she would like a receipt with large square buttons indicating Yes (green button) or No (red button). When I used the kiosk, I selected Yes, but never received the receipt. There was no way of knowing if the printer was out of paper or was simply malfunctioning.
Because of the many deficiencies listed, the kiosk leaves the user with an unpleasant taste (no pun intended) but if a student is hungry and has no alternative, they will put up with it and keep on trying until they are successful.
These micro-markets have the potential to resolve several problems in food services. None of the current usability issues are deal-breakers. Some common-sense software modifications should be made and will go a long way towards ensuring a successful deployment. Once the units are fine-tuned and made more user-friendly, they will achieve the desired results.
Harris-Teeter Self-Checkout Kiosks
The self-checkout kiosks at Harris-Teeter supermarkets generally work well and shoppers frequently wait in line to use them, even when manned checkout lines are lacking any customers. The 245-store chain is a subsidiary of Kroger and has been making significant inroads in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. Even though there are no signs alerting shoppers to their presence, people enjoy the convenience and generally acceptable functionality of the devices and happily wait their turn to use one. The store features six units, with two banks of three facing each other. A full-time employee is stationed in front of one bank of units.
These types of kiosks will be familiar to anyone who has visited a grocery store over the past few years. They are fast, quite easy to use and do not require much in the way of instructions. The software interface is mostly self-explanatory. The scanner works exceptionally well and is infinitely more reliable than the small unit found on Bistro to Go!
The only problem? Sometimes the prices are incorrect, sale prices have not been updated into the system, and keying in the 4-digit code for produce can sometimes result in errors. These problems are almost always quickly resolved, thanks to the proximity of the store employee.
Payments are made at a separate unit located a few inches from the touchscreen and the well-designed images show how to scan or insert a credit card or pay with cash. The units are outfitted with several expensive peripherals, including the high quality/super-sensitive Toledo-Mettler scales embedded in the bagging area.
The importance of using high-end components can’t be stressed enough. These types of kiosks receive a tremendous amount of use and shoddy peripherals will result in inoperable units which quickly leads to unhappy customers. Whole Foods tried self-checkout units a few years ago but they failed so frequently that frustrated customers avoided them and the project was cancelled. It remains to be seen whether new owner Amazon will try deploying them again.
History has shown that the kiosk costs are more than offset by the number of employees the retailer no longer has to employ. Furthermore, customers love them and are convinced that the process is faster than if they had used a human checker. That is not true, but to quote an adage: perception is reality.
The past few years have shown just how popular self-checkout kiosks can be. Just make sure that they work consistently and do not cause customer unhappiness or frustration. Harris-Teeter has the winning formula. Bistro to Go! at Johns Hopkins could enjoy the same results with some fairly easy modifications.
About the Author
Self-Checkout Kiosk by Francie Mendelsohn was last modified: April 23rd, 2018 by News Editor
That’s a belief driving the startup Bite, which creates facial recognition kiosks for quick service restaurants (QSRs). Using a combination of iPads, proprietary software and machine learning, Bite’s tablet kiosks can recognize your face to unlock loyalty programs, bring up food preferences and provide opportunities for restaurants to upsell.
Jack in the Box CEO, Leonard Comma, made news this week when he said “it just made sense” for his fast-food chain to consider switching from human cashiers to machines. To be sure, there are big societal implications if every restaurant made such a shift, but what if automated kiosks provide a better customer experience?
Bite Says Face-Recognizing Kiosks Improve Customer Experience was last modified: January 15th, 2018 by Kiosk Industry
Andrew Charles from Cowen cited plans for the restaurant chain to roll out mobile ordering across 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017. The technology upgrades, part of what McDonald’s calls “Experience of the Future,” includes digital ordering kiosks that will be offered in 2,500 restaurants by the end of the year and table delivery.
“MCD is cultivating a digital platform through mobile ordering and Experience of the Future (EOTF), an in-store technological overhaul most conspicuous through kiosk ordering and table delivery,” Charles wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. “Our analysis suggests efforts should bear fruit in 2018 with a combined 130 bps [basis points] contribution to U.S. comps [comparable sales].”
Here is a personal opinion letter/piece that I wrote for rebuttal to Andy Puzder and Rensi. I was deliberately ruthless and demonstrative for effect. I also sent to the Washington Post and may send to some more. I also published as personal letter on the Kiosk industry group site.
Letter to Washington Post Job Killing Kiosks
I am the executive director of a kiosk industry group association that specializes in self-service in all industries.
This is in response to the recent news items by Secretary of Labor nominee Andrew Puzder and Ed Rensi, former president and CEO of McDonalds declaring that self-order automation in fast food industry is a “consequence” and a matter of time if we “foolishly” increase the minimum wage.
That is simply not true.
Neither one of them has, to any degree, or wants – to implement modern automation for customers. What they want is to maintain the status quo and use self-order automation as a bully club of sorts. Almost a threat.
The status quo? It is generally lowest paid minority and immigrant (legal and illegal) workers, not unlike field workers in early California days. Hispanic and black predominantly. Virtual slave labor to be harsh. That is the model for their fast food restaurants which the majority they franchise and franchisees factor for their ROI.
Both minimum wage increases and automation “disrupt” that model and make waves for them. They are protecting that model. Not unlike Hearst protecting the paper mills when hemp was shown to be a superior newspaper print medium than cutting down trees. Outlaw hemp and the mills made money.
Meanwhile small business gets left behind, again. They cannot afford the investment for self-order and an high minimum wage is difficult at best for them.
Automation creates a ton of jobs all the way across the food chain (so to speak) from metal fabricators, engineers, service techs, salespeople and many many more. How many jobs does automated checkout at Walmart account for at NCR? Tens of thousands. Panera’s is a great example of modern thinking in the food industry.
How many jobs does Amazon and Bezos create, foster and necessitate? Those automation jobs in the warehouses (even with the automation) count. Those jobs and skills do require training and education.
Has McDonalds in Europe, in their corporate-owned restaurants, seen a reduction of labor due to self-order? No. They have increased employment.
Puzder and Rensi are change-agnostics. They like it the way it is. The old way. McDonalds is changing for the good. CKE may be glad Puzder is leaving.
There is indeed a shift towards more automation in the public space. That certainly redefines workers in the public space as well.
I’m from the south and when I was 14 in 1969 my mother took me to the Arkansas bottomland near Fort Smith and had me pick peas and cut cabbage for $5 a day. We did it one week in the summer. That was a lesson in minimum wage I never forgot. I went to school and that is the best thing minimum wage can do.
Open Letter to Washington Post – Job Killing Kiosks was last modified: December 31st, 2016 by Kiosk Industry