October 1, 2021
There are many reasons for the rise of kiosk and mobile ordering at foodservice outlets: lower labor cost, faster speed of service, ease of cashless transactions, freedom for customers to order at their own pace…Ordering technology has progressed tremendously over the last couple of years, and COVID-19 only accelerated consumers’ preference towards technology-assisted ordering methods.
For many venues and foodservice businesses, it’s been a tough call choosing between kiosks and mobile ordering. Granted, it’s always good to offer multiple options since consumer preferences aren’t uniform: some might prefer to order on the phone and have their food delivered, while others simply couldn’t bother with it. However, not every location is lucky enough to have the best of both worlds and deploy both. When you have to decide between the two, there might be a lot of thoughts running through your head.
For starters, both kiosk and mobile ordering have seen massive adoption — and it’s only going up. Business Insider forecasted mobile ordering to have an annual growth rate of 57 percent and reach $38 billion by 2020, while kiosk ordering is predicted to have a compound annual growth rate of 5.7 percent and reach $30.5 billion by 2023.
While your customers will certainly appreciate your initiative to roll out either kiosk or mobile ordering, we want to objectively look at 4 factors, and offer a side-by-side comparison of the two ordering options to help you decide which one is the better for your business.
Most, if not all, would have to agree that both kiosk and mobile ordering are likely to be more convenient than verbally communicating order details to a cashier and pay in person. Mobile ordering allows people to scan a QR code and open a webpage, where they can add items to cart and check out directly from there. Kiosk is somewhat similar — albeit on a larger screen and might require you to leave your seat — in a sense that it allows you to bypass human interactions and order at your own pace.
However, one problem that kiosks still fail to solve is lines. People tend to go to a kiosk if they see long lines at the counter, but as a result lines at kiosks will build up in no time. The person placing the order will still be under the pressure of having a line of people waiting behind. Mobile ordering effectively solves that since everyone can order in their seat at their own pace. Especially for larger groups or parents with children, they can easily consolidate an order by staying right where they are.
Some might argue that people nowadays have app fatigue and don’t want to download amore apps. We couldn’t agree with that more. That’s why more and more mobile ordering platforms offer online ordering options where people only need to scan a QR code to order in their browser — no app download necessary.
Mike Smith, COO of Taziki’s, has stated that they are skipping kiosk ordering, explaining that “the POS of the future is in our pockets.” While kiosks and table-side tablets make the front of the house more efficient, they lack the expanded benefits of table ordering solutions such as QR menus.
The verdict is that mobile ordering is essentially like having a kiosk in your pocket. Rather than having one or two kiosks in your space, you could have thousands at your customers’ fingertips. It’s not only more convenient for your customers, but also for you in that you don’t have to worry about the setup and maintenance of multiple kiosks.
This is arguably one of the most decisive factors for many operators. Hardware can be expensive; sometimes prohibitively so and as a result deters smaller businesses from purchasing it.
When we think about cost, we need to think about two types of cost: 1. Cost saved by implementing the new technology and 2. Cost of the technology itself.
In terms of the cost of the technology itself, kiosks are almost always going to be more expensive both in terms of the initial setup and long-term maintenance. From countertop and tablet units to large format floor kiosks, a typical price range for a standard self-service kiosk runs between $1,500 to $5,000. Whereas mobile ordering, since it’s a software, is more flexible when it comes to pricing and doesn’t really require much maintenance. Solutions like FanFood even allows you to use the platform for free by charging a small service fee to each consumer.
The biggest cost saving as a result of both technologies is probably labor cost savings. Both kiosks and mobile ordering essentially remove the need for a dedicated cashier. If you use mobile ordering, it might mean repurposing a staff member to manage the order dashboard and hit “Grab” when orders come in, so that the customer is notified that the kitchen has received the order. If you use a kiosk, you won’t have the capability of notifying the customer the order progress, however you can bypass the dashboard management process and have the incoming orders directly show up on your KDS (kitchen display system).
Our partners have found huge success in delegating one person as the “quarterback” of the kitchen: managing incoming orders on the Manager Portal and making sure the kitchen is receiving the automated print-out receipts with order details. However, to achieve the best result, you have to make sure that your team members have clearly assigned roles and not neglect either the digital orders or the in-person orders.
Sanitation has become the hot topic due to COVID-19. Like it or not, having proper safety procedures and social distancing measures is now the expectation of any foodservice or venue operator. In a recent 2021 survey that FanFood conducted of over 3,000 consumers in the U.S., over 70% of people rated having contactless ordering capability as “important”, “very important” or “extremely important” when they’re ordering food in public.
This is where kiosks are slightly disadvantaged compared to mobile ordering. While yes, many kiosks try to use anti-bacterial materials and are being wiped down regularly, it’s near impossible to do so after every customer. Inevitably people will be touching the same screen and causing germs and viruses to spread. Meanwhile, mobile ordering allows people to place an order in an entirely touchless manner: all they have to do is scan a QR code and use only their personal device to submit an order.
Also, kiosks don’t entirely solve the problem of social distancing. You can certainly mark out the appropriate distance and require people to stay apart in a line, but it’s hard to enforce that during peak hours. On the contrary, mobile ordering really helps with keeping people in their seats and minimizing movement around the venue, thus effectively achieving social distancing.
In the same survey that FanFood conducted this year, 45.2% of the thousands of respondents chose “I want to maintain social distancing” as their top reason why they used mobile ordering in 2021, second to “I hate waiting in lines”. It’s pretty clear that mobile ordering has an edge over kiosks when it comes to being the safest way to order.
If you’re still not capturing and making use of your customer data to nurture customer loyalty and grow the top-line revenue — this is the year to start doing so.
More and more businesses are realizing the importance of understanding their customers and re-marketing to them with useful content and promotions. The problem with POS and kiosk transaction is that they only record the data of “what”, as in what people purchased, rather than “who”, as in who purchased what.
Be it ordering online or in an app, customers will have the opportunity to create a profile and save their card on file — something people are less likely to do if they’re using a public kiosk. Especially if you have a lot of returning customers, having their information on file means you know exactly their contact information, preferences, purchasing power and other useful information for you to send targeted marketing messages. You’ll also have the option to enroll them in loyalty programs and encourage larger, more frequent orders.
In conclusion, mobile ordering appears to be the most cost-effective and sanitary way for customers to place an order today. In addition, it helps you unlock massive data collection and analytics potential to build a sustainable, profitable business. Both kiosks and mobile ordering have the ability to help you save on labor, but the actual saving really depends on how well you structure and train your team to work with the technology and improve efficiency.