Self-Service Ordering: The Future of Restaurant Tech
Updated: May 27, 2022
In the past several years, self-ordering kiosks have become commonplace in large chain restaurants like McDonald’s and Panera Bread. But since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, small- and mid-sized restaurants have also recognized the benefit of this technology. Additionally, it was revealed in a survey by Tillster that customers of all ages are interested in using self-ordering kiosks, which is another reason more restaurants are taking the leap and adding this technology to their restaurants.
Restaurant self-ordering kiosks are typically touchscreen or standalone kiosks that allow customers to place their order and pay for it without help from an employee. Self-ordering kiosks have proven to reduce wait times, increase order accuracy, and increase how much customers spend per order. In this article, we’ll explore why self-serve kiosk software is the future of restaurant management and how you can identify the perfect software for your restaurant.
What Is a Self-Ordering System?
As mentioned above, a self-ordering kiosk allows customers to place their orders on a digital device without help from restaurant employees. However, when it comes to the larger system, there are self-ordering kiosks that can integrate with your point-of-sale (POS) system, ensuring your business runs seamlessly.
For example, INFI’s self-ordering kiosk is customizable for each business and can synchronize order information through the restaurant’s already-established printer or kitchen display system (KDS). INFI’s kiosks also have the ability to notify customers via POS dashboard when their order is complete.
Even if your restaurant doesn’t have an integrated POS, INFI’s self-ordering kiosks can contribute to smoother restaurant operations. Learn more about the benefits of INFI’s self-ordering kiosk options here.
Key Features To Look for in a Self-Ordering Kiosk
Whether you’re new to restaurant kiosks or shopping around for an upgrade to your restaurant’s current system, it’s important to look for technology that has key features your restaurant will benefit from. Below we’ll break down some of the most important features, including intuitive customer experience, upselling abilities, sales data, POS integration, and real-time customization options.
Offers an Intuitive Ordering Experience
When comparing different self-ordering kiosk options, the first area to review is the technology’s intuitiveness. You’ll want to make sure it’s easy for you and your staff to navigate, but more importantly, you’ll want to ensure the technology is simple and straightforward for customers.
Consider the system’s user experience. Are the icons large and easy to read? Does the color contrast on the screen make everything easy to read? Do the steps to place an order make sense? The worst thing is to invest in a digital ordering system as a way to free up employees’ time, only to have customers constantly asking how to use it.
Promotes Quick and Easy Upselling
Another key feature to look for when vetting self-ordering kiosk systems is the ability to upsell and promote specials with ease. Whether it’s a special of the day or reminding customers that spending a dollar more will earn them a free dessert, a system that makes these announcements prominent and encourages add-ons to customers can be a win-win for you and your customers. You’ll see higher ticket totals and customers will feel like they’re getting a great deal.
Provides You With Unified Sales Data
The ability to track and analyze your fast casual restaurant’s sales data is vital to the growth and success of your business. We recommend looking for a self-service ordering kiosk that has robust reporting capabilities. This can help you track how certain menu items are doing in real time. It can even help you decide where and when you may want to consider adding new items to the menu.
Has a Seamless POS Integration
Integration with your restaurant’s point-of-sale system can make the process of adding new technology to your quick service restaurant exponentially more streamlined. When you choose a self-service kiosk with POS integration capabilities, information from your kiosk is sent directly to your POS system, making your transaction management process easier than ever before. Still on the hunt for the right self–service kiosk POS system? Read more here.
Lets You Edit Your Menu in Real Time
Another excellent benefit of self-serve ordering kiosks is the ability to make changes to your restaurant’s menu in real time. Most kiosk systems with this feature allow you to make these changes on the back end of the system through an online portal, and then everything is automatically ported to all of the kiosks in your system. For example, if you are a bakery and run out of a menu item, instead of erasing items from a chalkboard menu you can simply update it in the system and customers can immediately see which items are out of stock when they place an order.
5 Major Benefits of a Self-Ordering System
Now that you know some features to look for when researching self-ordering kiosks, let’s dive into the multiple benefits these systems can provide for your restaurant, your team, and your customers. For a detailed pros and cons list for self-ordering kiosks, read more here.
1) Decreases Lag and Wait Times for Orders
Because self-ordering systems are highly efficient, they have the potential to speed up the ordering process for customers. The streamlined process of on-screen ordering is often much quicker than relaying an order to a team member. When customers place orders with staff, the process takes longer — staff members typically repeat the order back to the customer to verify accuracy. By placing orders directly through a kiosk, each order takes less time to place — meaning that you can accept and prep more orders in the same amount of time, drastically reducing customer wait time.
2) Improves Order Accuracy
As important as person-to-person communication is in our society, sometimes communication can break down. If this happens at a restaurant when a customer is ordering, there is a high chance for order inaccuracy. Using a self-service kiosk can cut down on order mistakes tremendously, since customers are typing in exactly what they want rather than communicating what they would like to a cashier who then types it into the cash register.
3) Automates Repetitive Tasks (Like Taking Orders)
A huge benefit of self-ordering kiosks for your restaurant’s staff is the elimination of repetitive tasks. Taking order after order all day can be draining, and most of the time, staff members could be better suited to performing other duties around the restaurant. Additionally, since all menu items are described in detail on self-ordering kiosks, employees won’t need to answer menu-related questions as frequently.
4) Saves Your Restaurant Money on Labor Costs
A self-ordering kiosk can take on the role of one-and-a-half cashiers, according to Kiosk Marketplace, which can directly save your restaurant money on labor costs. Having even a few self-ordering kiosks in your restaurant can free up staff to tend to other important tasks like customer service, inventory, or marketing and administrative duties.
With the hourly staffing crisis at an all-time high since the start of the pandemic, self-service options also give restaurant owners a little more breathing room in terms of hiring. When customers can place their own orders, it allows existing staff to shift responsibilities with greater flexibility so that short-staffing situations aren’t as crippling. Even more, since kiosks can take orders at a quick, steady pace, you won’t need to account for more staff during your restaurant’s more busy times.
5) Creates a Safer and Cleaner Environment
One of the major business takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic is how important it is to be able to pivot to a pandemic-proof business model. Luckily, technology is advanced enough that we can do that now with self-service ordering. Because self-serve kiosks are contactless and require credit card transactions for checkout instead of cash, they can be a great solution for customers and employees who may still not be completely comfortable ordering face to face. Having optional kiosks for customer orders at your fast food restaurant can signal to customers that you are considering their comfort level, which further supports a great customer experience. Learn more about the benefits of investing in self-ordering kiosks.
Self-Service Ordering Is the Future — Get Your Kiosk Today
Based on the numerous benefits of self-ordering kiosks, as well as the high-tech features they provide, there’s no doubt that this technology is here to stay. Customers, restaurant owners, and employees all find immense benefit in self-service ordering systems.
If you’re ready to invest in the perfect solution for your restaurant, check out INFI’s self-service kiosks — found to increase the average ticket size by 20%, decrease labor costs by 23%, and increase peak-hour capacity by 30%. Get your INFI demo today to learn more about what our kiosk solutions can do for your bottom line.