Kiosks have emerged as an important tool to help retailers and restaurants control labor costs, drive sales, and streamline the customer experience.
Nearly four in five consumers — 79% — report that kiosks make ordering easier, according to the 2023 Square Future of Restaurants Report. In addition, 44% said kiosks allow them to review the menu at their own pace, and 38% said kiosks allow them to easily search the menu for their favorite items.
“Technology is increasingly a differentiator between the winners and losers,” says Ann Golladay, senior director of content, Datassential, in this recent report.
The pandemic and the labor crunch have accelerated the adoption of many consumer-facing technologies, such as apps and kiosks, she pointed out.
Kiosks offer a low-cost way for both retail and restaurant operators to deliver an enhanced customer experience while at the same time improving both the top and bottom lines. In foodservice locations, kiosks allow customers to bypass the line at the cash register, explore the menu, and take advantage of loyalty program offers. In retail settings, kiosks are also being used to place orders, search for products offered both in-store and online, and access personalized discounts and promotions.
Foodservice operators can use kiosks to minimize the demands on staff at the counter, allowing employees to perform other functions such as bringing food to tables or assisting with takeout orders. Kiosks also function as platforms for ads and promotions to drive revenues and also to gather information about consumer preferences. Searches for specific products, for example, could yield opportunities to optimize assortments by incorporating those items into the mix.
Here are four innovative ways restaurants and retailers are using in-store kiosks:
One example of innovative use of kiosks can be found at the new Kitchen United Mix food halls at Kroger supermarkets. The retailer is allowing customers at a handful of stores to order from multiple restaurants using digital kiosks inside its supermarkets, creating a “virtual food hall” experience. Items from different restaurant concepts can be combined and paid for on the same order, making it easy for a busy shopper to bring home lunch or dinner for the family that day, for example, while picking groceries for the rest of the week.
Retailers and restaurants are increasingly using kiosks for ordering and payment while allowing customers to research specific menu items. Many of these ordering platforms include upselling features that suggest additional items based on a customer’s order, which can help drive check averages by encouraging add-ons such as sides and beverages or calling attention to bundled meals.
The advent of artificial intelligence is increasingly enabling both restaurants and retailers to promote specific products based on time of day, inventory levels, and even local weather.
Restaurants that are running low on inventory of a certain ingredient can automatically stop promoting items that contain that ingredient, for example. Likewise, retail shoppers might be prompted with promotions for snow shovels or umbrellas ahead of a forecasted storm.
Product location/store wayfinding
Walmart has tested kiosks that help customers locate specific products in the store and offer wayfinding services. The test allowed customers to pinpoint the exact location in the store for more than 300,000 products and even suggested that oversized or heavy items could be shipped to a customer’s home, complete with a link for doing so.
Loyalty check-in/coupon loading
Food Lion is one example of a retailer that uses in-store kiosks to allow shoppers to access deals and load personalized offers onto their loyalty cards. As an added feature, customers can also print out a personalized “savings sheet” to help them shop for special offers, including both the personalized discounts and the regular promotions available in the retailer’s weekly flyer.
Members of the retailer’s MVP loyalty program can check in at an in-store kiosk when they arrive at the store and then simply scan their card at checkout to take advantage of the discounts.
Getting started with kiosks
One of the most attractive attributes of kiosk technology is that it is relatively inexpensive to install. Products such as the Square Stand Mount make it easy to turn any space into a kiosk.
This versatile hardware allows retailers and restaurants to create an instant self-checkout kiosk anywhere in the store — on a counter or on a wall, or anywhere else you choose. All you need is a compatible iPad, and your customers can be ordering, paying, and browsing your menu or merchandise assortment in minutes.
Kiosks can help your business improve space management, reduce staffing requirements, deliver a better customer experience, increase your revenue, and gather customer insights. Click here to learn more about how kiosks can help your business.