Quick service restaurants (QSRs) are always looking for ways to move hungry customers in-and-out as fast as possible. As the following article reports, an early test of McDonald’s order-and-pay kiosk delivered appetizing results.
Gone are the heady days of cashiers asking if you want your order “supersized.” Not only has the infamous upgrade gone by the wayside, but cashiers at fast-food restaurants are becoming increasingly uncommon. McDonald’s started rolling out ordering kiosks at its US locations in 2015, and the chain hasn’t looked back since: by 2020, most of its 14,000 locations will have kiosks installed.
Panera Bread has also committed to digital ordering. Admittedly, when I first tried it in 2015, I found it had decidedly dystopian vibes. But it ended up being a fairly pleasant and painless experience.
A recent poll conducted by Business Insider’s partner MSN suggests that diners aren’t big fans of automated kiosks: 78% of customers said they would be less inclined to go to a restaurant that has automated ordering kiosks.
The popular narrative is that kiosks and mobile ordering are here to take jobs and hours away from underpaid cashiers, ultimately saving companies money in the face of rising labor costs — but the data suggests that isn’t true. It may be true for some, but most chains are simply reallocating labor behind the scenes. And with such a tight labor market, many chains are struggling to hire and retain customer-facing employees.
Americans don’t seem too threatened by automation in general. Nationally, only 21% of responders to MSN’s poll believe their job may one day be done by machines. And restaurants like automated ordering for its increased accuracy and efficiency as more chains look towards cashless options.
Mobile apps have conditioned consumers to expect immediacy and convenience when ordering and paying for products and services. Fast food restaurants are the sweet spot for mobile order and pay apps so that customers can avoid in-store lines. More recently, in-store kiosks are becoming a variation of mobile order and pay—although without the smartphone. Will they replace counter help entirely some day? Probably not, but they will become more prevalent so that customers can order just the way they like it—and not wait in line.
Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group
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