Why 2019 Was the Year of the Self-order Kiosk
While we read and heard a lot about delivery and the rise of ghost kitchens in 2019, another trend was quietly making waves: quick serve and fast casual restaurants rolled out self-order kiosks in a big way.

Today, the thriving restaurants are the ones that make it easy for customers to do business with them.

While we read and heard a lot about delivery and the rise of ghost kitchens in 2019, another trend was quietly making waves: quick serve and fast casual restaurants rolled out self-order kiosks in a big way.

Why? Here’s a look at a few reasons we believe kiosks are springing up at a restaurant near you.

The Trend: More Self-order

Here are examples of the widespread adoption of self-order kiosks:

  • KFC, owned by YUM Brands, plans to roll out 5,000 kiosks by 2020

  • Taco Bell, KFC’s sister company, is wrapping up a rollout of self-order kiosks across its entire 7,000-unit system in the US.

  • Some concepts have been more public with their technology adoption and kiosk rollout announcements. Others have been more subtle. You’ll find kiosks in McDonald’s, Panera, Subway, Wendy’s, and Tim Hortons to name a few.

Restaurants Love Them

It’s no wonder thousands of kiosks are being installed nationwide. Kiosks offer a ton of benefits for quick serve and fast casual concepts:

  • They boost check average (Xenial kiosk customers report a 15% to 20% bump due to intelligent upsell). The benefit is being proven out by McDonald’s, which is reporting incremental sales increases from its kiosks.

  • They increase order accuracy. Customers input their orders themselves, leaving no  opportunity for confusion or miscommunication between the customer and a human order taker.

  • Kiosks can speed up ordering and reduce or avoid lines. Kiosks can easily show an image for every menu item, which tends to speed up ordering, since our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text! If the technology can recall past orders, guests can re-order their favorite in just a few seconds.

Guests Like Them

Guests like self-order experiences for a number of reasons. 

  • The self-order experience is akin to shopping online. Guests have time to peruse the menu without the pressure of a lineup of people behind them. They can compare options, see images of what their order will look like, and read nutritional and allergen information.

  • They can take time to appreciate the menu options, and explore new choices. This was an unexpected benefit that Taco Bell experienced with its kiosks: guests were more willing to try menu items they hadn’t before.

  • Xenial kiosk customers tell us that 70% of guests like to customize their order in some way. Kiosks make it easier for guests to consider all the possible customizations (extra sauce, no lettuce?) as well as add-ons, and make their order truly made-to-order without holding up a line.

  • When there is a line at the counter, guests prefer to order from a kiosk.

Are Kiosks Replacing People? Maybe Not.

Many have expressed concern that self-order and other types of automation cut jobs. However, long-term historically low unemployment has left approximately 900,000 positions in restaurant and hospitality unfilled. Doesn’t that mean there is room for a few kiosks without upsetting the balance? 

A few factors are slowly changing how people view technology and its impact on jobs:

  • Acceptance of self-service technology in various areas of our lives. Airport check-in, retail/grocery check-out, and motor vehicle licensing are just a few examples.

  • The sheer length of time we’ve experienced record low unemployment and the difficulty restaurants have with retaining employees.

  • The fact that kiosks do two tasks that many employees consider menial or downright distasteful anyway: taking orders and payment and upselling. This leaves staff available to add value where it matters most: quality, speed, and customer experience.

According to an article on, “ might be a bit of an exaggeration to say that the era of minimum wage jobs is over because of kiosk automation. Moreover, capturing the jobs that will be lost does not necessarily offer up the full count on jobs that will be created.”

Ready To Make Self-Order Tech A Part Of Your Concept?

Talk to us about your goals. Our team of experts will ensure your kiosk strategy is a success, now and in the future.