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self service screen

Adding a self-service kiosk to your shop is a great way to simplify ordering and improve efficiency, but what do you need to know if you’re considering purchasing one? 

For the majority of customers these days, using technology to order food is a given. Therefore, adding a self-serve kiosk isn’t the great leap of faith it was once viewed as. 

By putting customers in charge of their own ordering you’re not only reducing wait times and taking more orders – according to Flipdish its kiosks can process up to three orders per minute at busy times – you’re also improving staff productivity by freeing them up to focus on service and sales. What’s more, most operators see an increase in the average order value when customers use a kiosk – Flipdish customers report an uplift of up to 31% – which means the technology could very quickly pay for itself.

So what do you need to bear in mind? Firstly, the cost of the units. A few years back the average cost of a kiosk was around £7,000, making it only really an option for the larger chain restaurants. However, as demand has risen, hardware manufacturers have been able to bring the price down. Jason Bailey, sales manager at PanaEpos, comments: “We are now able to offer them fully installed and programmed for around £2,500 which makes them more accessible for an independent. Consequently, over the last three years, our kiosk installs have doubled year-on-year.” 

If cash flow is looking tight or you just want to reduce the initial outlay it’s also worth asking if the manufacturer offers a lease option as most do.

You also need to bear in mind the quality of the hardware and the software you are purchasing and don’t assume they are all the same. Steve Luicuex, sales director at Epos Ready, comments: “You want good functionality and reliability so that it delivers on quick service, that’s the whole point of using kiosks, you want it fast so that customers don’t get frustrated and join the queue for the counter. Good hardware running reliable operating systems is key so ask what kind of warrantees it comes with and how do you know this will last you a long time?” 

When it comes to software, you want something advanced, that can offer features such as upselling to boost customer spend, and that further down the line can continue to be added to so you can keep driving business through these units. Steve adds: “Spend some time getting to know the manufacturer and the technology. The one thing we insist on is going out and doing demonstrations and showing the software and how it works and performs.”

Next, consider the kind of kiosk you want. Whether this is a countertop, a wall-mounted, a free-standing floor mounted, a double-sided or an external vandal proof model will very much depend on the space available. Either way, think about where to position your chosen unit. Paul Goodgame, managing director at The Chesterford Group, discovered recently how much of an impact this has on how often they are used and their earning potential at his Churchill’s and Fish ‘n’ Chick’n sites.

Paul comments: “Whilst self-serve kiosks have worked well for us, out of ten we’ve rolled out there are a couple that haven’t worked in sites that are busy because they have to be in high visual areas. As you walk in the door you want them to be disruptive so it’s the first thing the customer sees, but you have to balance that up with making sure that a family of four standing in front of the screen doesn’t disturb the flow of your normal customers queuing up at the counter.”

To get the most from a screen or kiosk, Carl Harris, managing director of Gardiff Epos, says it’s important that it works seamlessly with your EPOS system, so all orders are processed in one place and sent straight to a printer or order screen in the kitchen. He adds: “It’s also important to choose a system that is tried and tested and provided by a partner who will take care of the setup and installation for you. However, once the initial implementation is completed, a self-service kiosk solution should require very little maintenance and return its investment back to your business within six months.”

Ultimately, the success of self-serve rests with customers using the devices and this will entail proactive staff pointing them out to customers. The Chesterford Group’s Paul Goodgame recommends having someone pop their head up during a busy shift and saying to customers in the queue that the kiosk is free if they would like to jump on and place their order that way. He adds: “I would also recommend on the first week of launch having someone whose job it is to show people how easy they are to use and to encourage them to go over and use them.” 

Epos Ready’s Steve Luicuex has the final piece of advice, which is to check the terms and conditions of your contract to see if you are tied in and, if you are, for what and how long. He adds: “We provide our software on a 30-day rolling contract, if someone cancels the software it stops working but they can go to another company and use their software with the existing hardware. Some manufacturers lock the hardware down so if you do cancel not only does your software stop working but your hardware is rendered useless too.”

Epos Ready 0115 882 8852 www.eposready.co.uk

Flipdish www.flipdish.com

Gardiff 01462 428 470 www.gardiffepos.com

PanaEpos 01692 404949 www.panaepos.com

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