Are Kiosks Dead?


August 19, 2020

Self-Service Kiosks are one of the many trends first popularised by that big daddy of the fast-food industry, McDonalds. Ronald was getting his customers to order using a screen long before it was cool, and proved the value-add to both customer and operator.  Since then, the use of both tablets and freestanding kiosks had been growing steadily throughout the QSR sector but, like so much, has been halted for the past few months by Covid-19.

Now, as we come out of lockdown operators no doubt have new questions and possible reservations about the use of Kiosks. Will customers be comfortable sharing a touch-screen device in the current climate? Have Mobile Ordering solutions made the hardware costs unnecessary? Will the financial investment pay off quickly enough? To put it simply – are they still worth it? As always, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, but the pros and cons of Kiosks are worth considering in the ‘new normal’.


The Benefits of Kiosks

Kiosks in your restaurant allow more customers to order at once, cutting queues and pushing up throughput capacity. We all know that more customers through the door means more orders made and more cash in the bank and the current need for physical distancing, plus the economic climate, mean this is more valuable than ever. Of course, you can always just add more tills, but that comes with additional staffing costs. Plus, many quick service restaurants simply don’t have the square footage. Kiosks are a low-footprint way to drive up your throughput and cut that precious time being wasted while guests stand in line. The end result is a better experience for your customers and financial benefit for you. It’s a win-win.

Studies show that when customers use a kiosk they don’t just order faster, but on average they actually spend more too. One study found that the average transaction value (or ATV) of orders was 30% higher when customers used a self-service Kiosk. When The Athenian started to roll out Vita Mojo’s self-service Kiosks in their chain of Greek quick-service restaurants they noticed a significant difference in ATV within just a few weeks.

“We’ve seen about a 39% lift in AOV… when customers are stood in front of a tablet, they’re more likely to order more but also it’s a more natural customer journey.”

Patrick Gray, Head of Operations, The Athenian


This increase in average spend comes from the clarity and flow of the kiosks user experience, as well as a significant reduction in ordering anxiety. In the privacy of a digital ordering experience, customers are less likely to feel embarrassed about choosing larger, higher-calorie menu options – after Subway introduced kiosks they noted that customers began ordering more 6-inch Subs, adding toppings such as bacon, and making their order into a meal.

A dynamic, touch-screen interface also makes it far easier for customers to explore all of their options than trying to read a small-print menu off a restaurant wall. For restaurants with a complicated menu or customers with specific dietary requirements, this enables far greater clarity. Our kiosks can even provide custom filters and intelligent upsells which highlight relevant menu options relevant to a particular customer, making the ordering process more efficient and successful, as well as driving profit.

Kiosks are no cure-all solution to restaurant operational challenges but they can be a valuable boost to the efficiency of a QSR. They work most effectively in a wider digital ecosystem which includes other digital channels such as click & collect or mobile order & pay, a POS to aggregate orders and smart kitchen display screens for streamlined fulfilment. Kiosks are also an easy point from which to onboard customers with your other digital channels which require them to  login to an account, such as Click & Collect, Scan’N’Go or Mobile Order & Pay. These channels provide more customer and marketing data as well as opportunities for personalised ordering experiences and in-built digital loyalty schemes.


Reservations with Kiosks

A common concern regarding Kiosks, especially in the post-Covid era, is that of hygiene. Obviously, without the right precautions in place, Kiosks which are being touched by a large number of customers could result in the spread of germs.  Like any restaurant touchpoints (e.g. toilets, tables, door handles) staff are responsible for regularly disinfecting their kiosks throughout the day. Some kiosk manufacturers have produced anti-bacterial screen coverings for their devices. With these measures in place, kiosks present no significant increase in risk to customers. In fact, as they can reduce time spent standing in line close to other customers the overall impact on health is likely to be positive.

With the growing popularity of Mobile Ordering solutions, you might wonder what need remains for kiosks. While it’s true that there are many benefits of getting customers to order using their own devices, kiosks play a unique and valuable role in the QSR ecosystem. Because they are visible and convenient, kiosks provide an extremely low-friction option for first time customers, customers who are in a hurry (common for QSRs) or those who aren’t yet comfortable with ordering on their mobile. The success of the McDonalds kiosks was always that even the most technophobic customer could figure out which buttons to press to get their Big Mac and Diet Coke and that remains true today. There is now a much wider awareness of mobile ordering but the kiosk remains the most convenient ordering option for many.

leon kiosks

Using Kiosks Effectively

Introducing Kiosks into your restaurant can be an impactful way to introduce digital ordering to you customers while increasing your operational efficiency, ATV and throughput. You make it easiest for customers to engage with your digital menu when you provide them with a large, touchscreen version. It’s a faster, easier way for them to order and it has the potential to increase your profits significantly. 

If you decide you want to introduce Kiosks you should be prepared to make the initial investment of both capital and time to effectively integrate them into your operations, which should pay itself back quickly in increased revenue. You need to ensure that you really understand the flow of your stores and where your customers are most likely to interact with Kiosks naturally. You should also choose carefully whether you need freestanding or mounted Kiosks – while large, freestanding Kiosks can be very visually impactful, Kiosks which use iPads can be easier for staff to manage, charge and operate. We recommend you get at least two or three kiosks, as the savings from a single Kiosk might not be sufficient to cover your costs, and visually it will be more noticeable. Making effective use of signage is also key for directing customers away from your POS queue and towards your Kiosks. Ultimately, if and how Kiosks will work for your restaurant depends entirely on your unique customer base, floor plan, budget and fulfilment strategy. But we can confidently say that even after Covid-19, Kiosks aren’t dead (but Elvis probably is).

We partner with Leon, Yo! Sushi and other leading restaurants using digital technology to develop their business model. If you’d appreciate some tips around the options for Self-Service Kiosks or advice about digital ordering for your restaurant, please reach out for a free chat. We’re always happy to help.