This may be a smartphone age, but our lives are becoming a series of kiosk stops, from ATMs and supermarket checkouts to airlines and gas stations. And now, increasingly, there’s the fast-food kiosk. Kiosks have one main purpose: to save time. And an industry that dubs itself “quick service” has zero choice but to pay serious attention to any device that espouses to shave seconds—if not minutes—off each order. That might explain why such familiar names as McDonald’s and Panera Bread are spending millions of dollars to roll out touch-screen kiosks in stores.
For Panera, it’s all about giving consumers digital ordering choices.
Then there’s that 500-pound gorilla in the room: Aren’t kiosks really about cutting back on labor costs? “How much labor can we remove from the service package until customers finally decide that self service means no service?” Muller asks.
Hurst insists this is not at all the case at Panera. In fact, he says, Panera locations that have kiosks typically spend more on labor costs than those without them.
On the whole, customers mostly love touch-screen kiosks, Hurst says, adding that “the kiosk is basically an iPad.”
Which is why Millennials, in particular, can’t keep their mitts off of them. “Kiosks are a way for us to be even more isolated from random human contact,” Muller says.