Guest Blog by David Clarke, ImageHolders

A visit to a coffee shop is a daily routine for many Brits. In fact, according to a survey in October 2018, the average British person will drink 676 cups of coffee a year and buy three cups from a café or coffee shop each week on average. The average British person will drink 676 cups of coffee a year amounting to £303 spent on coffee each year.

No one would argue with the fact the coffee shops are big business and competition to stay ahead with an infinite variety of options to please individual tastes, is impressive. But in the drive for increased profit margin and competitive advantage through enhanced customer service, one thing continues to remain baffling. The big queue.

The Big Queue Vs Grab and Go

Coffee purchases are by their very nature grab and go. So why do we face big queues, especially in locations where we need speed most of all? Whether on a busy high street, train station, airport or motorway service station, it can be a frustrating, slow or downright scrum to get that grab and go coffee at the speed we want. Those loyal to a Brand seem willing to persevere but those under time pressure or with less patience simply ditch the queue and go elsewhere.

And coffee chains are coming up with creative strategies to combat the big queue (or at least retain customers within the queuing system). Take Caffe Nero, to serve customers faster, they’ve opted for a policy of several staff shouting at random people “Yes, please, hello” to move the queue quicker. Costa Coffee on the other hand, which launched an initiative in 2016 to employ more staff in a chain to process transactions quicker to reduce queue length. In today’s world of technology, both these tactics of queue busting seem rather antiquated, especially as self-serve is in our daily lives from travel, ticketing, medical to retail. In fact, many consumers prefer to use self-serve and love the familiarity it now offers.

Queues are something no coffee shop owner or chain can truly afford. Grab and go means grab and go, not stand in a queue to make an order then wait in another queue for your order.

Speed, service and value is what makes coffee shop winners in the minds of the UK consumer. It is not surprising that every coffee chain is having internal conversations on self-serve kiosks, albeit some slower than others in making their plans.

Self-serve Kiosks the Logical Answer for Coffee Shops

Surely self-serve kiosks are the obvious, pragmatic, productive and financially more rewarding solution? And the very nature of a coffee purchase makes self-serve kiosks ideal. So why isn’t it happening? Procrastination, watch and wait and internal challenges seem the biggest blockages to kiosk deployment in the coffee shop sector.

Forward thinkers are going beyond the core necessity of queue busting and reducing order abandonment. These senior coffee execs are seeing other opportunities:

  • Attracting footfall via external self-serve kiosks to cash-in on impulse buying e.g. shopping centres.
  • Create an environment to carry forward brand values and the customer experience strategy.
  • Make loyalty programs more potent.
  • Acquire big data for future AI plans.

McDonalds have proven kiosks work and customers love them. It is only a matter of time before coffee shops and the wider QSR sector follow their path. And against a backdrop of raising wages, increasing food costs and increased competition, kiosk strategy is top of the agenda when it comes to reducing cost and creating new customer experiences to drive footfall and increased transaction value. The self-serve kiosk is proving a powerful differentiator.

What is Holding Back the Coffee Shop Kiosk?

Deploying self-serve kiosks across an estate, or even a few sites, is not straightforward. From the physical deployment, software integration into an often complex PoS structure, through to senior management buy-in and budget restrictions, all create several complications which can result in projects stalling.

Despite the number of considerations and individual nature of site environments, deploying self-serve kiosks doesn’t need to be complicated with the right road map and expertise.

The Coffee Shop Experience of the Future is Here. It Just Needs Knitting Together

The coffee experience of the future is here. All the ingredients for self-serve technology are not only here but proven and accepted by consumers.  Coffee shops and chains are increasingly taking an interest in kiosks to increase speed of service, re-purpose staff for increased productivity and make the whole coffee experience more in tune with modern consumer expectations including convenience, control, choice and digital familiarity.

Whilst some senior management may still be sitting on the hedge about whether the investment stacks up with provable return and questioning whether self-serve kiosks are really worth the effort, the arguments against deployment are beginning to run out of steam.

The Important Role of Aesthetic Kiosk Design. Key Considerations.

Aesthetic design plays an essential role in the in-store customer digital experience. Physical devices, functionality, touch screen interface, printer, scanner, camera, payment device all need to be accommodated for.

The Customer Journey

Kiosks take many shapes and positions depending on who will be using them, what the intention of use is and how long a consumer should be making the transaction.

After all, the physical journey to place an order in 30 seconds is very different to a 3 minute process order. As is the number of items people need to browse and the average number of items to be ordered and the payment type. These variables all dictate the hardware type and enclosure design.

“Does it need to be an environment of comfort or speed?

Intuitive Design

Essential to success is a customer’s ability to intuitively know what the kiosk is for. How the branding and graphics work onscreen and offscreen are just as important as the kiosk’s location within the outlet.

On-trend Looks and Materials

For many operators, the kiosk enclosure is a key element to attract attention whilst also becoming a natural element of the brand, interior and furniture. Today there are no end to the materials and styles that can be used. In 2019, kiosk enclosure trends included:

  • Lighting: Illumination through LED technology for buyer attraction
  • Colour : White
  • Style: Clean and fresh
  • Native: Designed to become part of the furniture
  • Brand: Colour pallets to reflect the overall brand experience

Top 5 Considerations for Kiosk Design

  1. Budget – bespoke finishes in materials and colours to standard basic
  2. What you want the customer to do at the kiosk
  3. How long you want a customer to take to place an order
  4. Desired environment for both the interface and enclosure
  5. How and where it is going to be mounted instore. No store is the same and different solution designs for an entire estate may be required

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