Restaurant Self-Service Kiosks: Why You Need One & How to Get Started

Restaurant Self-Service Kiosks: Why You Need One & How to Get Started

Have you ever used a restaurant self-service kiosk before? 

Considering there are over 350,000 self-service kiosks installed in restaurants around the world…I’d wager your answer is “yes.”

Surprisingly though, the restaurant industry is still in its first decade of the self-service kiosk game, despite the steadily increasing number of kiosk installations (and already-impressive self-service success stories…but more on that later). 

So, self-service kiosks may be relatively new to the restaurant industry.

But the idea of self-service — and the public’s desire to serve themselves — definitely isn’t. 

(It was just way less tech-y before.) 


A Brief History of Restaurant Self-Service

Back in 1946, the first all-you-can-eat American buffet opened at Las Vegas’ El Rancho casino. Legend has it that employee Herb McDonald was gathering goodies for a midnight snack when casino patrons noticed and wanted in. So, instead of encouraging them to leave the casino for food, McDonald laid out snacks for the patrons to munch on before they headed back to the slots… and the Buckaroo Buffet opened not long after. 

Fast forward about 40 years, and self-service had found its way to grocery stores, too. 

In July 1986, a Kroger store in Atlanta added the first ever automated checkout machine (ACM) to its store — and with great success. Kroger’s then-VP said shopper response was “very positive,” and a second Kroger in the area geared up to have ACMs installed, too. 

Grocery store self-serve kiosk.

In 2016, we finally saw self-service kiosks reach the restaurant industry. QSRs like McDonald’s have been leading the kiosk crowd since then, while tons of other restaurants caught up a few short years later in response to the pandemic. 

So, while the development of restaurant self-service kiosks was much more intentional than the snaccident behind the buffet craze, the principle is the same:

People want to have control over their food experiences, whether it’s loading up on cold cuts between poker hands or customizing their Junior Chicken combos on a touch-screen. 


Why Restaurant Self-Service Kiosks Work

Over the years, restaurant self-service kiosks have become the rule rather than the exception. 

That’s because they’ve proven time and time again that they’re a smart move for restaurants, both from a business perspective and from a customer satisfaction perspective. 

So, here are just some of the benefits a restaurant self-service kiosk can offer you. 

  1. Restaurant self-service kiosks better meet your consumer’s preferences
  • Kiosks satisfy our love of tech 
  • Kiosks make personalization easier 
    • Personalization requests increased by 14% on kiosks vs. over-the-phone 
  • Kiosks allow anonymity and reduce stress

2. Restaurant self-service kiosks automate and speed up orders

  • Kiosks reduce wait times
    • 56% of consumers will only wait at a till for 5 minutes before getting annoyed
  • Kiosks make ordering more convenient
    • 97% of consumers have backed out of a purchase because of an inconvenience (like wait times) 
  • Kiosks reduce order errors 

3. Restaurant self-service kiosks increase your restaurant’s revenue 

  • Kiosks increase average order size
    • Kiosk users purchase <30% more than those ordering from an employee
  • Kiosks make upselling easy
  • Kiosks let employees focus on customer experience (CX)

David Gibbs, the CEO of Yum Brands, said “[average] kiosk sales [for Habit Burger Grill] see 10% higher checks than front counter sales.” Considering kiosks offer stress-free personalization options, shorter wait times, and automatic upsell recommendations… a steady increase in customer spend isn’t a big surprise. 


McDonald’s: A Self-Service Kiosk Success Story

McDonald's self-serve kiosk.

So, we’ve seen that restaurant self-service kiosks can offer an impressive range of benefits to restaurant owners. But what does a successful restaurant self-service kiosk look like in practice?

One of the best success cases of restaurant self-service kiosks is McDonald’s, considered one of the “original” adopters of this type of restaurant tech. 

McDonald’s first started experimenting with self-service kiosks back in 2003 as a solution to “speed up the order and delivery process” for its customers. Then, in 2018, McDonald’s revealed a 2-year plan to add self-service kiosks to every restaurant in the U.S. (which, if you do the math, means adding kiosks to 10 stores every single day).

As of now, McDonald’s is considered “the world’s largest deployer of [self-service kiosks],” with over 130,000 kiosks installed in restaurants around the world… but how do we know their kiosks are actually working? 

Simple: their digital sales speak volumes. 

In 2022, Chris Kempczinski – McDonald’s President & Chief Executive Officer – reported over $6 billion in digital sales. And, considering McDonald’s kiosks showed an average order increase of 6% in the first year after rollout, it’s understandable that Kempczinski continues to call the brand’s digital channels “ [their] biggest opportunities for growth.”


How Local Restaurants Can Replicate That Success (with Craver) 

If you’re ready to get your restaurant on the self-service kiosk train, Craver’s got your back. Our self-serve kiosk solutions help you capitalize on the power of kiosks in 3 big ways: 

  1. Stronger brand identity and recognition

Your customers are your customers because they love everything about your restaurant. Why not add that same level of brand recognition to your digital channels, too? Craver’s self-service kiosks are branded with your unique colors, logos, and images, turning everything your customers love about you into a digital experience. 

2. Improved processes and efficiencies

Craver’s self-service kiosks also free up your employees from front counter duty, streamlining the order-to-kitchen pipeline while allowing them to engage with your customers for a better experience. When your restaurant adds a self-service kiosk, you can finally reallocate your time and energy to the place it matters most — customer satisfaction. 

3. Better customer experience

The nice thing about Craver’s self-service kiosks is how they improve customer satisfaction, too. With order personalization at your customer’s (anonymous) fingertips, they make sure they get the right order without worrying about menu anxiety. And, the cherry on the kiosk cake? No more waiting in lines that never end. 

Customer paying through one of Craver's self-serve kiosk.


Wrap Up

The self-service kiosk market is expected to reach ~$27 billion this year, fueled by evidence of better CX, improved efficiencies, and a stronger digital experience. 

So, with everything you know about the power of restaurant self-service kiosks… are you ready to see what a kiosk could look like for your restaurant?

The Craver team can show you — schedule your demo today!