The Advantage of Remote Kiosk Ordering

Kris Morphis foodesign vice president Written by Kris Morphis, Foodesign VP

With the move of many fast food restaurant chains – such as Wendy’s and McDonalds – moving toward the obvious route of cashier-less remote ordering kiosk, I ask myself, “How will this trend affect corporate or student dining in large food halls when it comes to design and operations?”

A number of university dining programs are starting to look at, or have already moved to, remote kiosk as a way to solve queuing and speed of service issues. 

But why not design it this way from the beginning?  Take advantage of the technology that is available to us.

Incremental minimum wage increases have forced designers and foodservice directors t0 start discussing whether the cost of labor is starting to significantly affect the labor force, as dining directors are forced to cut staff in order to meet the budget requirements for their programs. 

Recent technology has afforded us solutions to help solve a few issues:

1. Avoid long lines. There are always unforeseen issues when designing a project, one of which is being able to foresee how popular a concept might be and how it will affect customer queuing.  By having multiple remote kiosk and/or utilizing a mobile ordering system, a dining facility can avoid any queuing in front of your serving counter.  The staff can bring the food to you at your table using table tracking devices which increase productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.

2.Provide more space for product.  By removing the cashier counter, the new space can be used for selling product.  Meaning more opportunity to make money. Whether it is a refrigerated merchandising refrigerator, hot food, or just snacks, merchandising space is a premium and removing the POS system from the counter opens up prime real estate.

3.Reallocate your labor cost.  According to the CIO of Wendy’s, David Trimm, their return on investment for a remote kiosk is about two years.  Instead of employee dollars going towards someone taking and punching in orders, let the customer do it. Why not allocate the money to the back of house for staff–delivering food production and focus on a better-quality product?

Technology has come very far very quickly.  I believe a remote kiosk ordering system is a great solution for a facility wanting to increase production, eliminate or reduce queuing, increase speed of delivery and reduce labor cost.  But I do see this as just one solution that could be implemented in any existing or new dining facility.

I believe that, ultimately, mobile app ordering is the way of the future.  Everyone has a smart phone and the generational gap is decreasing on users becoming more comfortable with using it as a tool in the food service industry.  The Starbucks App, for example. I use it on a regular basis to order my coffee ahead of time to avoid the lines.  This idea will be used more and more when ordering food on the way to the dining hall. We use it for call-ahead seating, why not use it have your food ready when you get there on your own time.

As a kitchen design consultant, these are the conversations that we have to have from the beginning of a project. Understanding trends and opportunities in the food service industry and making sure that the foodservice director knows what is available, then providing the best designed space that is utilizing today’s technology to meet demands.