Self-​Serve Kiosks Drive Sales, Especially in Fast Food Restaurants

BY Rachel Cagle
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The world of retail is being turned upside down with consumers and investors alike preferring 'human-​less' transactions, interactive retail services and multiple payment options, reports Financial News Media. It's no secret that traditional retail brands are doubling down on their investment into autonomous robotics in the name of competitiveness and bottom-​line profitability. Kiosks are also becoming a growing trend.

Millennials in particular prefer to avoid any human interaction at all during the shopping or the delivery process. This tech-​savvy generation places a premium on time, convenience, and customization, favoring machine automation over human interaction. Steve Easterbrook, the CEO of McDonald's, had this to say about the future of self-​service kiosks: "What we're finding is when people dwell [around our self-​service kiosks] more, they select more. …We do know it helps grow the business, we know it's the right route to go down. We can't get there quick enough in the U.S."

In the U.S., 10.6% of adults eat fast food three to four times a week and 5.4% eat fast food five or more times weekly, according to AudienceSCAN. Nearly 29% of Fast Food Lovers are between the ages of 25 and 34 and 19.1% are ages 17 to 24.

From consumer electronics to bank branch transactions to ear buds to frozen yogurt, consumers of all ages are demanding both self-​service and multiple payment options. Investors with early insights into these new norms of daily commercial behavior are poised to prosper.

Greg Nichols of Robotics writes that we're on the verge of a total sea change in the retail industry: "A billion dollar industry is emerging to make checkout faster by removing human cashiers." In the absence of a cashier — and the traditional bricks-​and-​mortar retail environment — unattended retail attracts more customers who spend more money. Fully-​autonomous, self-​monitoring, self-​cleaning vendors that don't take breaks, sick leave or vacations means greater efficiency for retail operators, investors and consumers.

Robotics and automation are changing everyday consumer behavior, and food service disruption is everywhere.

San Diego-​based Generation Next Franchise Brands, Inc. is the developer of the world's first fully-​automated robotic frozen yogurt vending kiosk designed to disrupt brick-​and-​mortar competitors: Red Mango or Orange Leaf. These "unattended" robots eliminate the need for costly rents and employees; significantly reduce food safety concerns; and are capable of operating 24-​hours a day.

As ZDNet's Larry Dignan outlined in a recent article, McDonald's is using kiosks as a centerpiece of its comprehensive AI strategy. McDonalds Corp. food service automation is reaching new heights. If you have been to a McDonalds in Europe, Canada, or an airport recently, you have probably noticed the kiosks that allow you to order your food using a touch screen display and pick it up when it is ready. Even further, McDonald's opened a beta version of a fully-​automated McDonald's in 2015 involving robots that work 50 times faster than the average human. Shares of McDonald's have steadily increased since 2015, reaching all-​time highs.

According to Dignan, Wendy's Co. is also joining the rush to autonomitize its customer service offerings: "Wendy's plans to roll out more self-​service kiosks, use agile software development, develop mobile ordering and create a customer experience that drives loyalty and revenue." Todd Penegor, CEO of Wendy's, emphasizes that "technology can play a great role in creating a better customer experience." The fast food chain, which delivered 2016 revenue of $143 billion with net income of $129.6 billion, highlights how every company is becoming a digital one.

Fast Food Lovers are becoming increasingly reliant on technology. According to AudienceSCAN, 34.4% of Fast Food Lovers have used the internet to order food within the last 30 days alone. Within the last six months, 34.5% of Fast Food Lovers have used a mobile wallet for payment as well. A personal goal for this year for 43.2% of this audience is to buy things that make them feel more comfortable. If they can't order their food online, kiosks may be the next step in making them feel more comfortable in the food-​ordering process.

Increasingly, advanced vending machines are not only selling healthy food and drink options, but they increasingly offer other convenient items that people on the go frequently need like earbuds, power cords, batteries and toothpaste; and the available options via mobile pay mean 24-​hour customer transactions.

Young Americans are the biggest segment to shy away from cash purchases, and prefer other means of payment. With PayPal, Google Wallet, Apple Pay and numerous other mobile payment options, Americans find it more convenient to pay for in-​person purchases electronically.

In places like Japan, unattended ordering and checkout are already the norm. Like so many other facets of life, the future of consumer retail will be increasingly automated, efficient and human-​less. Each of the companies mentioned in this report are poised to leverage the financial upside of increased robotic efficiency, multiplying paying options and a vastly improved customer experience.

TV is one of the most effective ways to showcase new technology within fast food restaurants. According to AudienceSCAN, last year, 74.7% of Fast Food Lovers took action after seeing a TV commercial. They're also 78% more likely than other adults to be driven to action by pre-​roll video ads. Social media is also a great place to reach them since 67.8% took action after seeing an ad on a social network last year.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.