Step Right Up
Touchscreen ordering can make business more efficient, profitable.
“They don’t feel pressured to finish orders and can look at different options”
From QSRs to finer dining, restaurants across the country have embraced touchscreen ordering via kiosks and handheld tablets to streamline efficiency and boost customer service. In many cases, restaurants have noticed an uptick in sales, but overall, they have helped create more customer satisfaction via a streamlined process.
“The two biggest pain points are at the register, and if you’re the cashier and you have 10 people (in line), you can panic,” says Geoff Alexander, president of Chicago-based Wow Bao. “Then, in the pickup area, you have 10 people waiting and you’re literally throwing food and not giving the best hospitality.”
Wow Bao added kiosk ordering at its original locations in 2009, and in late 2017 opened its first fully automated restaurant where guests order at kiosks, staff behind the scenes prepares and packages food, then guests pick it up in an assigned cubby. The process still allows for robust staffing, but because guests control the process, sales have increased.
“You’re ordering off pictures and it’s intuitive,” Alexander adds. “And the machine up-sells. It allows us to have a higher check average—89 cents to $1.49 per person.”
According to case studies conducted by Toast, a restaurant tech company specializing in POS and touchscreen hardware, restaurant clients, including Philadelphia’s DK Sushi and Chicago-based Protein Bar, saw upwards of a 10 percent higher average order via kiosks.
But for Nellie Thomas, who, along with her husband, owns six McDonald’s franchises in New Jersey and New York, it’s more about customer satisfaction. As part of a nationwide initiative by McDonald’s to add kiosk ordering, Thomas has installed numerous double-sided kiosk machines to all of her locations at $15,000 per unit. Thomas says approximately 30 percent of customers use the kiosks.
“Customers who enjoy it, especially those with kids, can use kiosks leisurely,” Thomas says. “They don’t feel pressured to finish orders and can look at different options they wouldn’t normally add to sandwiches or might add a dessert, which maybe when they’re at the counter, they wouldn’t do.”
While some argue adding touchscreens for ordering reduces staff and human interaction, proponents of the technology insist it not only adds staff in the form of kiosk concierges and food preparers, but gets more satisfaction.
“If you go to a full-service restaurant with an iPad wine list, you’re not waiting for a server,” Alexander says. “You order what you want and it’ll show up. Speed of service increases and it helps turn tables.”