Jeremy Julian

Are Self-Serve Kiosks the way of the future?

September 20, 2017

You may have noticed a growing trend that is happening slowly, but surely: the increase of self-serve kiosks. We all know Panera was one of, if not the first, major fast-food chain to integrate self-serve kiosks into their restaurants. Now that time has passed, there are some big players taking notice and following suit. McDonald’s and Wendy’s have both announced that they are implementing self-serve kiosks into their restaurants.


What does this mean to the industry? Are kiosks the future of the restaurant industry? Will machines finally replace humans? OK, the last question is a bit dramatic. However, is this not the first step in that direction?


Let’s check out some facts:

  • 13% percent of consumers (and 20% of 18-to 44-year olds) have used a self-service kiosk to place an order.
  • 41% of millennials say they would be likely to use a kiosk in a restaurant, if offered.
  • 50% of consumers believe kiosks ordering will become more prevalent due to increased minimum wages.
  • However, 53% will have a decreased opinion of a restaurant that automates as a response.


So what does this tell us? Younger consumers want technology and are comfortable using it and half of the respondents sympathize with businesses using technology to reduce costs. But customers still need/want there to be a human touch. Where do you draw the line? How much can a business automate without hurting the business?


Turning back to McDonald’s announcement, they plan to have kiosks in all of their restaurants by 2020. That is quick. These kiosks will have ‘recognition technology,’ which will read a signal from customer’s phones that have the McDonald’s app and suggest patrons’ favorite orders and default to the guests’ preferred method of payment. These kiosks will have the ‘Build your own burger’ feature, which has had initial success.


Likewise, Wendy’s is implementing self-serve kiosks in more than a 1,000 locations by the end of this year. The kiosks are being implemented for two main reasons: to offer customers a better ordering experience and to reduce labor costs. Wendy’s says that three kiosks will cost a restaurant $12,000 – $15,000 and it estimates those costs will be paid back in two years.


Now that you have some kind of vison of cost, would your restaurant benefit from a self-serve kiosk?

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