Kiosk-based ordering is no longer a novelty. Touchscreens are finding their way into a growing number of quick-service establishments, as operators discover their labor-saving and check-boosting potential. As with any emerging technology, though, it takes some time to work out the kinks.
Here are some best practices from kiosk vets to ramp up throughput as well as check averages with touchscreen ordering.
1. Location is crucial
Chicago-based fast-casual chain Wow Bao has had kiosks in its units for about eight years. Two stores have kiosks near the registers, while three others have them posted near the entrance. Those doorway kiosks do a much better volume than the register-based ones, brand President Geoff Alexander says, because they grab customers’ attention while letting them order without interacting with others in line. “It allows you to order, walk in and walk out.”
2. Know what problem you’re trying to solve
“I get annoyed when I see other concepts using tech to look cool or thinking it’s a silver bullet to help their brand,” says Honeygrow CEO Justin Rosenberg. “I needed technology to solve a business problem.” When he launched the fast-casual chain in 2012, Rosenberg says, he realized that customers couldn’t get stir-fries and salads from the same down-the-line makeline. “It’d bottleneck the whole line,” he says. Kiosk-enabled ordering solves that problem by allowing diners to submit their customized creations.
3. Consider beyond the front of house
Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs has offered touchscreen ordering at its drive-thrus for the past 14 months. Orders placed at the 32-inch screens, which are covered in weatherproof covers and protected by a canopy, have averaged 15% to 20% higher than those at the chain’s traditional drive-thrus, says Scott Ford, chain president. The chain is currently testing in-store kiosks because of this success.
4. Make it pretty (and simple)
Honeygrow’s kiosks add an indie feel by interspersing videos of local spots with the ordering screens. “We have a video shoot in every market we go into,” Rosenberg says. Beyond aesthetics, though, the user interface must be uncomplicated. “I had my 4-year-old testing it,” he says. Goodcents opted not to enlist an employee to help customers with the touchscreens. “If we’d needed to do that, then we’d failed in the development of our user interface,” Ford says.
5. Speed of service is essential
"It has to be at least as fast as your regular service standard," Ford says. Goodcents originally added a second makeline to handle phone and online orders. Now, all kiosk orders are prepared by the back makeline as well. "It wasn’t fully busy," he says. "But now that we added the kiosks, the people in the back are fully engaged."
6. Keep ‘em clean
It may sound like a no-brainer, but, as with everything in the operation, be sure the touchscreens stay clean. Goodcents has employees on the floor several times each hour and includes wiping down the screens as part of their routine, Ford says. Promoting further cleanliness, Honeygrow stations bottles of hand sanitizer by each kiosk for customer use. “That was my wife’s idea,” Rosenberg says.