The Future of Restaurant Technology: Self-Service Kiosks

As 2022 gets underway and economic recovery from the pandemic continues, restaurant owners are considering the best paths for the future of their businesses. When looking toward the future, one must also look back to the past to identify trends. One trend that was gaining traction even before the pandemic – and was accelerated by it – is contactless ordering and payment options. Industry experts anticipate the continued growth of this trend, putting a spotlight on self-service kiosks as the future of restaurant technology.

Contactless options such as kiosks are popular for several reasons, including:

  • safety;
  • convenience;
  • and customer preferences.

As many businesses are recovering financially from the pandemic, the demand for self-service kiosks is up.

What does this trend mean for the restaurant industry? Incorporating self-service kiosks will not only provide customers with the level of service they expect; it will also be a smart investment from a business standpoint.

Future-Proof Your Business

The restaurant industry, like many sectors, continues to struggle with labor shortages. Despite regular hiring efforts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the food and beverage industry is still short 1.5 million jobs (12%). Many owners fear it will take a long time for staffing levels to return to normal, if they ever do. A November 2021 survey by the National Restaurant Association found that 80% of full-service operators and 73% of limited-service operators said their restaurant did not have enough employees to meet customer demand (and 31% of them were more than 20% below necessary staffing levels).

You can avoid future staffing shortages by automating key tasks and reducing the need for as many employees. Benefits of becoming a self-service kiosk restaurant include:

  • Customer ordering: When customers input their orders — and their customization requests — directly, accuracy increases. And orders go straight to the kitchen, saving time.
  • Increased ticket sizes: Customers placing their own orders tend to include more items (such as add-ons or upgrades), in part thanks to consistent upselling prompts from the kiosk.
  • Pay at the table: Staff won’t have to run back and forth processing payments, and customers will appreciate not having to wait and not having their payment source (eg, credit card) leave their possession.
  • Staffing efficiency: When freed from running orders and payments, the employees you do have can be better utilized in preparing and delivering food and providing a more personalized, positive customer experience.

Self-service kiosks won’t eliminate the need for employees, but they can help you optimize labor costs and avoid some of the headaches of shortages.

Quickly Get Your Money’s Worth

An important consideration in the decision to adopt new technology is the return on investment (ROI), or how soon you can get back what you put into it and start profiting. The ROI for self-service kiosk restaurants can be swift. Factors such as upselling more items and increasing customer satisfaction due to ease of ordering can help businesses see an average revenue increase of 7% with kiosks.

Self-service kiosks reduce customers’ wait times for orders and payments. Not only does that improve their experience, but it also increases throughput and table turnover times for all types of service, allowing you to accommodate more patrons per shift.

Finally, adding self-service kiosks can help you scale your operations more quickly and efficiently while reducing costs at the same time.

Meet Customer Demands and Be Safe Doing It

Consumers have come to prefer businesses that offer self-service options. Even before the pandemic, in 2019, 65% of customers said they would be more willing to visit a restaurant if self-service kiosks were available. Health and safety concerns have accelerated the desire for the reduced human contact that kiosk service provides.

A self-service kiosk restaurant can meet customers’ expectations for both convenience and safety. Sanitation innovations include antimicrobial materials that can reduce the spread of germs, and durable screens that can withstand frequent (and easy) wipe-downs. Plus, CDC guidelines indicate that the risk of coronavirus transmission from touching surfaces is low. And kiosks assist in creating social distancing and reduced contact, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and staff comfort levels.

The Future of Restaurant Technology Is Here

Implementing self-service kiosks in your restaurant will allow you to:

  • Build your business into an automated machine, removing the added stress of staffing shortages;
  • Increase your ROI without additional hassles, letting the kiosks do the work of attracting customers, increasing sales, and reducing costs for you;
  • Provide the convenient, timely, and accurate service that customers expect, while adding a layer of safety and confidence for diners and staff alike.

Thus, kiosks could be the wisest investment you can make and the best way forward for your business.

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