Tag Archives: self-order

Appetize POS Boosts Consumer Spend, Driving Demand for Self-Serve Kiosk

Press release from BusinessWire May 09, 2019

Self-Service Kiosks Drive Up to 40% Lift on Orders; Company Brings on New Customers AT&T Center, LSU, Museums

PLAYA VISTA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Appetize, the modern Point of Sale (POS) and enterprise management platform, today announced strong results from its self-service kiosk technology seeing up to 40% increase in order size across its customer base. Appetize is at the forefront of a growing industry shift toward self-service kiosks and has recently expanded its kiosk reach with new customers Louisiana State University (LSU), AT&T Center, home of the San Antonio Spurs, and SSA (Service Systems Associates), foodservice provider for the Cincinnati Museum Center and other attractions.

Self-Service Kiosks from @appetizepos Deliver Up to 40% Lift in Orders. Announces New Customers @Attcenter, @lsu and more

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Appetize’s Interact self-service platform offers embedded upsell functionality and data shows that consumers are 47% more likely to add an item on a kiosk than when asked to do so by a cashier. The company is seeing consistent results from kiosks across multiple industries, including attractions, education campuses, restaurants, and sports and entertainment facilities.

Some recent data shows customers are experiencing both an increase in order size and items per order, including:

  • AT&T Center selected Appetize to be its point of sale platform arena-wide in 2018; in 2019, it deployed self-service kiosks and has seen an 18% increase in average order size.
  • SSA (Service Systems Associates), a foodservice provider for leading cultural attractions, deployed Appetize self-service kiosks at Cincinnati Museum Center and saw a 40% adoption rate in less than six months and a 20% increase in average order size.
  • LSU deployed Appetize self-service kiosks in its arena and has seen a 16% increase in average order size and 25% more items per check at kiosks compared to terminals at point of sale counters.

“We have been working with Appetize since 2017 and recently deployed kiosks to enhance our food service and offer a more convenient and frictionless experience for our students and guests,” said Matthew LaBorde, Assistant AD from LSU. “Appetize made it extremely easy for us to deploy a self-service platform and shift toward the future of ordering at athletic events.”

“Our customers are focused on two things: guest experience and financial performance. The Appetize Interact platform offers a modern and dynamic digital experience for guests while driving increased share of wallet for the business,” said Max Roper, Co-founder and CEO at Appetize. “In the past six months, over 45% of our deployments have included self-service kiosks, and we expect this trend to continue as businesses require more automation and consumers desire a more frictionless experience.”

Designed to enhance the guest experience and increase staff productivity, Appetize’s cloud-based self-service platform, Interact, gives businesses an intuitive checkout interface with custom menu ordering and branding for both Quick Serve and Retail environments. The platform also includes a back of house management suite, real-time connectivity for fulfillment and cashless payment experience, and more.

About Appetize

Appetize is a modern Point of Sale, inventory and analytics platform transforming how enterprises manage and process guest transactions. With an omni-channel approach, Appetize makes front of house transactions more intuitive through fixed, self-serve and handheld form factors, while providing robust kitchen and back office tools. Appetize is trusted by some of the largest and highest volume businesses in the world, including sports and entertainment properties, education campuses, theme parks, travel and leisure sites, and national chain brands. For more information, please visit getappetize.com.

Appetize Contacts

Kathryn Kelly

AI Drive-Thru Kiosk – Good Times Using AI For Order Taking

 Original complete article on the Denver Post published 2/15/2019.  Support the Denver Post!  Updated 3/23/2019.

AI Taking Your Order at Drive Thru Kiosk

The Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard at 2095 South Broadway is testing artificial intelligence to take drive-through breakfast orders. The artificial intelligence company, Valyant AI based in Denver says their deal marks one of the first in the world for this type of business-focused technology.
AI Drive Thru Kiosk
The new system will help Good Times during peak hours when speed is a priority. Quick-serve restaurants earn nearly 70 percent of their business from drive-through customers, the release stated. If a line of cars stretches too long, potential customers are likely to drive away. That is where Good Times hopes artificial intelligence can step in.

“The biggest challenges to these types of models is nobody orders food the same way,” Carpenter said. “Think of soda, or pop, or Coke. In one region, Coke could be referring to I want a soft drink. In another region, Coke refers to a very specific product.”

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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

Full article originally published on TheAllState.com

Chick-Fil-A Now at School Campus with Self-Order Kiosks

chick-fil-a kioskNew 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.

Point of Purchase Trends – Recap 2018 Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.

This article is republished from the Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. blog

2018 Recap

 Katie Kochelek November 14, 2018

self-service order kiosk for mcdonaldsIt feels like just yesterday I was opening a fresh Word document to start writing a wrap-up for 2017, and here we are rounding out 2018.

With retail transforming at a rapid pace, it’s not terribly surprising that the year has flown by.  The industry has witnessed some undeniably innovative changes – checkout-free convenience stores, an embrace of self-service kiosks in the quick service restaurant (QSR) and fast casual industries, and augmented reality playing a larger role in personalizing the customer experience.  On the flipside, we’ve also bid farewell to some traditional retailers that sadly couldn’t keep stride with their more inventive competitors.

All in all, though, 2018 really shone a spotlight on the winners of the brick and mortar sector of retail – those willing to regroup, reinvent, and reestablish a presence in their various verticals.

I sat down with my Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. colleagues to get their unique perspectives on the point-of-purchase and retail industries in 2018.  My questions and their answers are below.

How would you sum up the last year in the point-of-purchase industry?

2014_Mike-Mayer_web-use.jpgMike Mayer, President 
MM: Still solid. Brick and mortar retail remains strong but will need to continue striving to provide a positive and exciting experience to attract customers. Then the retailers need to continue to change to keep them coming back.

2014_David-Anzia_headshot.jpgDavid Anzia
Senior Vice President of Sales

DA: There appears to be more category-managed merchandising and displays.  It’s about streamlining the shopper experience and removing competing graphics, colors, and messaging.  I’m also seeing more measured, ROI-based models for all displays.  Because brands tend to have a smaller inventory on the product shelves, ROI is tested even more in regard to how quickly the product sell-through takes place.

Cheryl Lesniak.jpgCheryl Lesniak
Integrated Marketing Manager

CL: It’s been quite the shake-up in retail this past year.  Those retailers who are willing to embrace technology to provide a customized consumer experience are proving why brick-and-mortar stores are still integral in the shopping experience.

Joe Holley_FMA-2013 (2).jpgJoe Holley
Vice President of Business Development
JH: OEMs and retailers have had a challenge this year.  I’ve noticed in client meetings that many are trying to reinvent themselves to combat online ordering and home delivery as well as separate themselves from the rest of the competition.  They’ve had to really examine brand equity issues with buying groups.  How they shop and how quickly they want items has an impact.

Ryan's Photo.jpgRyan Lepianka
Creative Director

RL: It appears the ‘pie’ is redistributing with less market share being used at major department store chains, and more warehouse outlets relying heavily on point-of-purchase to tell a product’s story in the absence of sales associates. In some retail stores, the level of style and experience in POP has increased, with brands at these outlets focusing their spending on portraying a ‘showroom’ appearance. After all, while customers may end up making their purchases online, a great display can still help purchasers make a brand decision as people feel better about purchasing something they have seen and touched under favorable circumstances and not just only viewed on their phones.

What changes or trends did you see emerge in 2018?

DA: A trend toward more category-managed displays as well as the use of more semi-permanent materials on permanent displays to reduce overall costs.

JH: I saw a lot of retailers take a step toward “pick up in store” capabilities. It seems to help them minimize some inventories and offers more products that don’t need SKUs out on the floor.  It ends up being a win for the customers as well when they don’t need to pay for freight to the store.

CL: We’re seeing multiple e-commerce sites branch into the brick-and-mortar sector, but with nontraditional marketing and customer service plans.

RL: In 2018, I saw better looking, more dramatic, bigger, bolder, more innovative, higher-quality displays in focused retailers.

Was there anything that you thought would be big, but ended up being less impactful?

MM: With so much buzz around self-service kiosks, I expected greater implementation of order entry kiosks in the QSR sector.  While slower than originally believed, I think 2019 will be the year we really notice them being executed in-store.

DA: Virtual reality still hasn’t quite caught on at retail.  It’s a great solution for flagship locations or a small segment of a company’s overall store count, however, at this point, VR does not appear to be a technology-based resource that will help consumers make a buying decision at retail.

RL: I agree about virtual reality.  Apparently, the overall cost and inconvenience (for example, dangling cords, obtrusive headsets, etc.) has been too much for the marketplace to overcome this year.  More development is needed to bring this technology into the mass consciousness.  I’m hopeful that phone processing power will one day reach a level to help this take off.

Any surprises from certain industries?

DA: The proliferation of self-checkout across a number of retail chains.  The momentum will only continue to accelerate through 2019.

JH: Home delivery being offered from grocery stores.  Not only can you pick up curbside at the story, but now they’ll deliver your order directly to your home.  In fact, Kroger is testing driverless cars that pull up to your driveway and require a code to access your groceries.  Even George Jetson didn’t have that benefit!

RL: Not a big surprise, but I continue to see more QSR kiosk examples in the field.

CL: The department store sectors have had to reinvent their traditional models to extend a more experiential shopping trip to customers.  Testing products, tailoring services, makeup tutorials, dining experiences – these offerings are drawing the consumer in while the merchandise feels less “center stage.”


So where do our trusty experts see the point-of-purchase market heading for 2019?  Keep an eye out for our first blog post of the new year where we predict what the industry has in store!

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Taco Bell Self Order Kiosks Get Inspiration From The Airlines

Taco Bell is trying to convince customers to order via kiosks instead of cashiers at restaurants across the US — and it’s drawing inspiration from an unlikely source

From Business Insider Aug 3, 2018

taco bell ordering kioskTaco Bell is installing kiosks in all of its restaurants.

 Hollis Johnson

  • Taco Bell is set to install self-ordering kiosks at all locations across the United States by the end of 2019.
  • The fast-food chain turned to the airline industry to better understand how customers reacted when confronted with machines instead of human employees.
  • Taco Bell ‘s biggest takeaway was that airlines made a major mistake by not having employees around to help customers understand how to use kiosks — a misstep the chain plans to avoid.

Read full article on Business Insider

Acquisition – SICOM Acquires Self-Order Point of Sale Solutions Provider NEXTEP SYSTEMS

SICOM Acquires Self-Order Point of Sale Solutions Provider NEXTEP SYSTEMS

Lansdale, PA and Troy, MI – June 12, 2018 –Nextep Systems Order Kiosk SICOM announced today the acquisition of NEXTEP SYSTEMS, a provider of self-ordering point of sale solutions, digital signage and restaurant management software for managed food service, quick service and fast casual restaurants. NEXTEP’s lineup of self-ordering solutions includes kiosks, touchscreen drive thru systems and mobile ordering and will be added to SICOM’s Encounter™ Omni-Channel Point of Sale platform.

NEXTEP was founded by Tommy Woycik when he realized self-ordering technology could prevent people from waiting in lines at restaurants. After creating its first self-ordering solution, NEXTEP has expanded its product catalog to include a full spectrum of order management solutions on its single-platform, cloud-based architecture.

NEXTEP has also introduced several innovative technologies in the self-ordering space, including Intelligent Upsell™ for increasing check averages and facial recognition functionality that provides a personalized guest experience.

“We are truly excited to welcome NEXTEP to the SICOM family,” said Jim Flynn, CEO of SICOM. “The talented team at NEXTEP has created an impressive lineup of industry-leading and inventive self-ordering technologies, and this acquisition will allow SICOM to offer the most comprehensive omni-channel point of sale platform in the industry. We’re also excited to expand into managed food service and fast casual restaurants with a broader and proven suite of products designed specifically for these markets.”

“The team at NEXTEP has accomplished a tremendous amount since our inception in 2005,” said Tommy Woycik, President and Founder of NEXTEP. “SICOM is a perfect fit for NEXTEP, and we are excited to join a company with the same level of commitment to providing leading technology solutions to managed food service providers and quick service and fast casual restaurants. We’re confident that joining forces with SICOM will provide new opportunities for the NEXTEP team and our customers.”

ABOUT NEXTEP SYSTEMS

From Self Order Kiosks and Touchscreen Drive Thrus to mobile ordering and traditional POS terminals, the NEXTEP SYSTEMS solution empowers guests to check out faster, resulting in bigger check totals and higher sales volume. With 7 patents granted and 4 more pending, NEXTEP SYSTEMS offers the industry’s first and only 360° integrated foodservice technology platform to more than 1,500 managed food service, QSR, and fast casual customers.

ABOUT SICOM

SICOM Systems, Inc. is a leading best-of-breed provider of end-to-end technologies and services for quick service and fast casual restaurants. The company offers front-of-house solutions (Digital Menu Boards, Point of Sale and Order Confirmation Units), back-of-house solutions (Drive-Thru Director™ and Chef™ Kitchen Management), as well as above-restaurant solutions (360° Data Analytics, SEMS4 Restaurant Management and RTIconnect Restaurant Management) that are helping leading restaurant brands around the globe streamline their operations. SICOM has over 40,000 digital menu boards, 8,000+ Drive-Thru Directors and 7,000+ Chef Kitchen Management solutions in operation worldwide, while its Point of Sale systems are in more than 6,500 restaurants worldwide and it has more than 10,000 restaurants leveraging its enterprise management systems. Founded in 1987, SICOM is headquartered in Lansdale, Pa. and can be found online at www.SICOM.com.

5 Technology Trends Spotted at The NRA Show 2018

5 Technology Trends Spotted at The NRA Show 2018

With another successful year at the National Restaurant Association Show under our belts (our 13th!), we gathered the most talked about technology trends from the show to share – just in case you missed it…

pexels-photo-1053769.jpeg

1. Third-party delivery replacement

Restaurant operators have come across many issues with third-party delivery companies: loss of brand value, high commission cost, data usage, etc. That’s why companies like ShiftPixystood out this year as a self-delivery option that allows clients to use their own employees to make deliveries.

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2. The Touchscreen Drive-Thru

Self-order isn’t limited to the indoor variety: meet the self-order drive-thru. The Touchscreen Drive-Thru introduces huge operational efficiencies, allowing chains to redirect labor full-tilt towards fulfillment. Not to mention, the technology has been refined over the course of a decade: “NEXTEP SYSTEMS displayed its fifth generation, drive-thru self-order kiosk, which automatically adjusts the center of the touchscreen to the height of the customer in their car. The touchscreen adjusts as soon as the customer touches it. The system also automatically adjusts the brightness of the touchscreen to the level of outdoor light. Additionally, the kiosk includes a built-in air conditioning unit.” (Kiosk Marketplace)

antunes.jpg

3. Food at faster speeds

It was all about speed in terms of fulfillment this year. Devices that prepare food in seconds like the Antunes JS-1000 Steamer, which can make scrambled eggs in 12 seconds, gave operators something exciting to look forward to: less wait time for customers.

4. Giving customers the reigns

Self-order menus with endless custom options are giving customers the control they crave. Whether because of dietary restrictions or particular preferences, guests are able to seamlessly create the perfect, customized meal in a few taps with NEXTEP kiosks. This year, it was clearer than ever that self-order design matters. Many POS companies jumped at the chance to say they could offer self-order, but very few were able to execute kiosk software that looks beautiful, answers guests’ questions before they even have to ask, and works seamlessly with the rest of the operation.

freestyleColourRGB.jpg

5. Going digital for streamlined operations

Digitally-enhanced self-service has taken over not just as a way to order, but in every aspect of the restaurant experience. The Coca-Cola Freestyle 9100, for example, was debuted this year with new features that create an interactive experience for users.  Users can download the Freestyle mobile app, connect to the machine via Bluetooth, and pour their own beverage mix from their phone.

More Pictures from NRA

Craig is a longtime writer of technical stories and documentation for many companies. He has 25 years of experience in the industry

You’re Going To Use That Self-Checkout Machine Whether You Like It Or Not

Self-Checkout Machine – You are Going to Use It

We may not realize it, but retailers are conditioning us to be our own cashiers.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

After two decades of freeze-ups and unfamiliar items in the bagging area, self-checkout may be in the midst of an expansion. RBR, a research firm focused on banking and retail automation, says that self-checkout terminals recently had a “breakout year,” with global sales increasing by 67 percent in 2016; a surge in U.S. big-box stores purchases was a driving factor. NCR Corporation, the leading manufacturer of self-checkout machines, says it’s had record growth over the past two years.

The way retailers and industry watchers tell it, self-checkout is growing because customers want it to grow. Tech-savvy millennials would rather deal with a machine than make small talk, and even old-school shoppers might like to avoid a long cashier line if they’ve only got a couple items.

Self-Order Kiosk Approach Announced by Frank Mayer

Approach32  Self-Order Kiosk for Fast Casual

frankmayer approach kioskFrank Mayer and Associates, Inc.’s self-ordering kiosk delivers an interactive dining experience that offers expediency and order process efficiency to both customers and store employees.

GRAFTON, WI – Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. announces the launch of Approach32, a self-service kiosk designed to meet the quick service restaurant industry’s demand for customer convenience, order accuracy, and faster service by enabling consumers to browse a digital menu, customize an order and pay at the kiosk.

Frank Mayer Approach KioskOutfitted with a 32-inch touchscreen monitor, the kiosk also features a payment terminal and printer, assistive technology and a software package option to integrate with various POS systems.

The enclosure marries smart design with a small footprint, 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.

“With our history of serving the kiosk market, designing Approach32 to fit the distinct needs of quick service restaurants and fast casual dining was a logical step,” says Mike Mayer, President of Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. “The Approach kiosk is the answer to the growing movement toward self-service.”

Approach32 is also available as a smaller unit, containing a 22-inch monitor and tailored for restaurants with less floor space.

In addition to operating within quick service and fast casual restaurants, Approach32 also offers functionality for a variety of other markets including wayfinding, product selection, self-service checkout, and registration check-in.

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. Visit www.frankmayer.com/approach for more information about Approach32 and Approach22.

******

CONTACT:
David Anzia, Senior Vice President of Sales
Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.
1975 Wisconsin Ave., Grafton, WI 53024
(855) 294-2875 | info@frankmayer.com

MORE SELF-ORDER KIOSK IMAGES

Top 10 stories of 2017: Self-order food kiosks dominate reader interest

Self-order food kiosks dominateSelf-order food kiosks dominate

Self-order kiosks in restaurants dominated reader interest in 2017 as several national foodservice chains announced kiosk deployments.

Source: www.kioskmarketplace.com

Writeup on most read stories on KMC this past year by Elliot Maras.

 

1. best read story in 2017 was a summary of self-serve kiosk introductions at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago.

 

2. The second best read story addressed disability access lawsuits, an ongoing issue that continues to dog self-service technology.

 

3. Redbox announced plans to add 1,500 kiosks.

 

The usual “we are going to launch” PRs.

 

KFC to launch 5,000 kiosks with facial recognition to predict customers’ orders in China. Interesting that they have partnered with Baidu (BIDU).

 

Subway and McDonalds of course.

 

I think here in December a lot of buzz for Taco Bell and YUM has been percolating.  One might think they have issued an RFP…

Self-Checkout Kiosk by Francie Mendelsohn

Self-Checkout Kiosks – a Look at Two

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.

Click for full size

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.

Bistro Self-Order
Bistro self-order – click for full size image

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.

Bistro self-checkout kiosk
Click for full size

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.

checkout screen
Click for full size Checkout

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.

customer instructions
Click to expand

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.

Click to expand

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!

Click for full size CC

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.

Receipt – click for full size

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

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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.  

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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!

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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.

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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.

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