Why Over Half of UK Hospitality Operators Will Have Self-order Tech by 2020

Projections estimate that by October 2020, 58% of hospitality operators will have adopted self-serve technology for food ordering. The business case now is impossible to ignore.

The latest UK research on UK hospitality Self-serve kiosk adoption has revealed 53% of operators who do not have self-order have plans to install it, with half of these planning roll-out within the next twelve months.

The technology has been at the front and centre of some of the world’s most successful QSR brands for some time and it is now a high priority for both large and small British operators, especially in the QSR and casual dining space.

No longer the preserve of corporate global players or a novelty or cost cutting measure, but a serious business case focused on increasing staff productivity, increasing product sales and queue busting.  

According to Kurve’s One Poll Survey of 2,000 Brits, 41% of us want more self-order kiosks in fast food, casual dining and coffee shops.  And when it comes to capturing the all-important Millennial and Gen Z market, it is absolutely an essential ingredient. In fact 61% & of Brits aged 18 to 24 said 57% aged 25 to 35 years said they prefer self-serve kiosks and are not prepared to queue.

When it comes to commercial success through kiosk strategy for staff productivity and younger customer attraction, US operator Wendy’s is the perfect example. It didn’t become of the most successful fast food chains in the highly competitive American market by accident. And their decision to install kiosks across their outlets wasn’t a chance gimmick or wild attempt at innovation. They saw a way to better serve customers while redeploying labour to accomplish other important tasks such as table service and faster food prep.

Wendy’s findings mirror UK industry research which found 65% cited staff productivity as the main benefit of kiosks, followed by reducing customer wait times, 62% and revenue generation 58%. Whist much has been said about queue busting in the industry, less has been talked about in regards to the big commercial drive for staff productivity and its consequent effect on revenue.

According to David Trimm, Wendy’s chief information officer, there are two primary benefits of installing kiosks:

  1. They give younger customers (and those who are young at heart) an ordering experience they prefer.
  2. The increase employee productivity by un-tether workers from the counter and frees them up for other important tasks. 

And self-serve kiosks are not limited to younger customers. 44% of those aged 35 to 54 years also want to seem more because of the speed and control offered.

Today, self-service kiosks are expanding into almost every industry, including the restaurant industry, at exceptional rates. They are becoming the new norm. From your typical fast food restaurant to casual dining, operators are transforming their ordering model to incorporate self-service kiosks, table-side ordering, mobile App and online ordering. Our customers want convenience and in the restaurant setting, that means the ability to order what they want without staff involving staff.

The Drive for Productivity

65% of British operators cite staff productivity as the number one benefit for kiosk deployment. It’s not about reducing staff and propelling the industry into a scenario of mass redundancy. It’s about re-purposing staff to increase operational efficiency and the customer experience without increasing salary headcount.

Add this to some expressed fears of staff shortage post Brexit, it is clear why staff productivity tops the perceived benefits of self-serve kiosks and the investment in the technology and store refits.

Blaine Hurst, Panera’s Chief Transformation & Growth Officer, explained Panera’s commercial gain in this area, “The consumer-facing technology results in labor savings for Panera; these hours are redeployed in the cafe. In fact, in most cases, Panera increases the number of associate hours in our cafes; and they see increases in overall guest satisfaction.”

Properly implemented, kiosks can shift a significant percentage of employee costs away from order taking and towards order delivering. When the former accounts for roughly 30% of a QSRs total cost, any improvement is going to be significant.

The Drive for Revenue

Not surprising, the kiosk and self-order technology’s potential to increase revenue was cited by 66% of operators as the major benefit.  The proven ability of self-order kiosks to increase revenue has been well documented, with McDonalds claiming a 30% increase. Whilst there are a host of ways kiosks can increase revenue, the top four include:

  1. Increased transaction value per order: With intuitive and easy menu mapping, kiosk interfaces enable upselling of side orders and meal deals like never before.
  2. Customer privacy and control: British diners have confessed they prefer self-order so they can “go-large”, customise their order and add extras without feeling greedy or risking order inaccuracies.
  3. Customer attraction and retention: 41% of consumers want restaurant kiosks and are no longer prepared to wait to be served. Their preference is to go to outlets that offer self-order and deliver the experience of speed, convenience and customisation they want. In addition, the rise in the Mobile App is propelling Click and Collect in the sector and providing a platform for advanced loyalty programmes, mobile ordering and personalisation.
  4. Increased throughput/covers: Not only does the kiosk have the ability to queue bust to enable more throughput but self-serve technology platforms give operators a slick and fast Kitchen Management system from order to table service, allowing them to serve more customers quickly and with a 100% accuracy.

Success Lies on the Self-serve Strategy and Software that Drives it

Whilst we often talk about the many benefits for the operator and the customer and the over-arching business case, self-serve and kiosk technology is only as good as its strategy, existing IT integration, features and applications. I was recently asked to round up what I considered to be the ten most important features for a successful self-order kiosk platform:

  1. User interface to provide simple, intuitive order steps for guests
  2. Features displaying prices for add-ons or combos
  3. Remote Head Office or Local menu editing
  4. Payment flexibility supporting debit, credit, mobile payment system and cash
  5. Quick, easy and live detailed reporting to understand customer preferences and inventory better
  6. Mobile App integration with added Click and Collect and Advanced CRM and loyalty applications
  7. Kitchen Management Systems to turnaround order faster, accurately and efficiently
  8. EPoS integration including traditional PoS option
  9. Open API platform for current and future software and application integration
  10. Good Network Services provisioning to ensure reliability and capability of internet infrastructure

Wrapping Up

Self-service kiosks are becoming central to the business strategies of the quick serve, fast food and casual dining restaurant industry. It has gone beyond a tactic to queue bust and much further down the line of self-serve and kiosk technology to dramatically increase staff productivity to better serve (and retain) customers and its enormous ability to drive revenue across multiple elements of the operational structure from order process through to kitchen management and deliver customer preferences and essential business data intelligence.

We will be launching our 2020 Self-serve Tech Report for Hospitality Operators very soon with the full research findings. If you would like to register for a copy, please email info@kurvekiosks.com

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