From Counter to Kiosk: The Evolution of Ordering in Restaurants

self service kiosk ordering
self service kiosk ordering
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Initially met with skepticism, self-service ordering kiosks have become an integral part of the hospitality sector.

With over 65% of quick-service customers1 opting for kiosk-based ordering, the labor shortages have acted as a catalyst, propelling businesses to explore automated solutions.

Establishments equipped with kiosks consistently report higher sales, a testament to their effectiveness in streamlining operations and catering to modern consumer preferences.

Beyond merely boosting revenue, the reallocation of labor towards more value-added services, such as customer interaction and table service, enhances the overall dining experience.

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This shift isn’t just about operational efficiency or cutting costs. While technology plays a pivotal role, the underlying driver is the desire to meet evolving customer expectations.

In fact, 79% of customers2 find kiosk-based ordering more convenient.

Offering a More Convenient Customer Experience

With their intuitive interfaces, kiosks promise swift service. Customers can effortlessly navigate menus, place orders, and finalize payments in seconds.

For many diners, time is of the essence. 56% of diners admit their patience wanes after waiting in line for 5 minutes to order food.

Modern kiosks have evolved beyond mere order takers. They’ve become personalized culinary advisors. Patrons can now customize orders based on dietary needs, and the system’s intelligence can suggest add-ons based on past preferences.

This blend of technology and personalization is even making its way into upscale restaurants, ensuring that luxury dining remains efficient without compromising the experience.

Self-Service Market Growth and Potential

The post-pandemic world has witnessed an unprecedented surge in kiosk adoption, with projections indicating the market could reach a staggering $30.8 billion by 2024.

These machines aren’t just cost-effective; they’re proven revenue boosters. Interactions at kiosks often lead customers to spend 10% to 30% more.

With a current valuation of $40.3 billion in 2022 and an anticipated growth trajectory, the kiosk market is on course to touch $63 billion by 2027.

While some fear that kiosks signal the demise of human roles in hospitality, the reality is quite the opposite. Kiosks serve to augment human efforts, enabling staff to channel their energies into roles that truly elevate the guest experience.

This synergy between technology and human touch paves the way for a more vibrant and streamlined future in the hospitality industry.

Revenue Maximization

With the right strategy, kiosks can become powerful tools for revenue maximization. Kiosks can be programmed to suggest complementary items to customers based on their current selections.

For instance, a customer ordering a burger might be prompted to consider a special combo that includes fries and a drink or even a premium side dish.

Cross-selling increases average transaction values and enhances the customer’s dining experience by offering them a complete meal solution.

Similarly, up-selling becomes more seamless with kiosks. If a customer selects a regular-size beverage, the kiosk can suggest upgrading to a larger size for just a little extra.

By visually showcasing the value proposition, customers are more likely to opt for the premium choice.

Large Players Lead the Charge

The shift to digital ordering in the restaurant industry has been influenced by industry giants3. McDonald’s, always at the forefront of innovation, began experimenting with kiosk ordering as early as 2003 and fully integrated the technology by 2020 across its U.S. outlets.

Following suit, Taco Bell introduced a kiosk-only location in the same year, showcasing a commitment to modernized customer service.

Shake Shack’s integration of kiosks in nearly all locations led to a notable revenue boost, reporting $271.8 million. Meanwhile, Burger King, addressing labor challenges and changing consumer preferences, saw over half of its 2022 sales coming from digital platforms.

These industry leaders highlight the undeniable potential and growing preference for kiosk-based ordering.

Self pour beverage wall PourMyBeer Impact Report
Self pour beverage wall PourMyBeer Impact Report

The Rise of Self-Service Beverages

Amidst the rise of self-service food ordering, the hospitality industry has also seen the established growth of self-serve beverage technology.

Self-serve beverage systems empower patrons, allowing them to pour their own drinks from a selection of craft beers, specialty cocktails, or non-alcoholic beverages.

This autonomy not only lets customers sample and savor at their own pace but also significantly reduces wait times at the bar, especially during peak hours.

The technology directly addresses labor shortages by reducing the need for multiple bartenders during busy periods. Moreover, it offers an opportunity to showcase a diverse range of beverages, encouraging patrons to explore and discover new favorites.

An added benefit is the environmental impact; with patrons pouring exactly what they’ll consume, there’s a reduction in beverage waste. PourMyBeer’s self-serve beverage technology has been adopted by various establishments worldwide.

Over 2.5 million consumers tapped into the convenience of PourMyBeer’s self-pour technology in 2022 alone.

The Future of Dining

The transition from counter to kiosks in restaurants is more than just a shift in technology; it’s a reflection of changing consumer preferences and the industry’s response to modern challenges.

As the hospitality sector continues to innovate, businesses that embrace these trends position themselves for success in a competitive landscape.

The future of dining is not just about food but the entire experience, and with the integration of self-service technologies, that experience is becoming more streamlined, efficient, and tailored to individual preferences.


1. QsrMagazine
2. Buzztime
3. NRN

  • RAK Porcelain
  • RATIONAL USA
  • Imperial Dade
  • Epiq Global Payment Card Settlement
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • McKee Foodservice Sunbelt Bakery
  • Day & Nite
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • Inline Plastics
  • Atosa USA
  • Easy Ice
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