Automation in restaurants and other retail stores is gaining more attention as businesses look for ways to minimize social contacts. Kiosk point of sale systems offer retailers an option for reducing direct contact between customers and employees.
The challenge in discouraging the spread of COVID-19 is to keep the kiosks disinfected. This requires thoroughly cleaning the kiosk touch surfaces between each use. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, there were reports of bacteria-laden kiosk screens at eight McDonald’s restaurants in the U.K., as QSR Web reports.
The restaurant industry’s response to the reports includes holding all self-service kiosks to the same sanitary standards as kiosks used in healthcare settings. Self-service kiosks reduce face-to-face interactions for hospital staff, which benefits all parties. Kiosk Marketplace notes that hospitals place hand sanitizer and screen wipes adjacent to the kiosks along with reminders to the public of the importance of cleaning their hands and wiping down surfaces.
Faster, Safer, More Accurate Service for Retail Patrons
Customers want more control over their interactions with retailers. Restaurants such as Applebee’s and Outback Steakhouse found that use of self-service technology increased patron’s spending per minute.
- Self-service kiosks allow customers to place their orders at their own pace, without having to wait for restaurant staff to take their order.
- Restaurants generate extra revenue by offering diners pay-to-play games on tabletop tablets.
- Tablet-based self-service kiosks are inexpensive enough to allow restaurants to evaluate kiosk point of sale systems without requiring a large upfront expense.
More importantly, kiosk point of sale systems have become multimedia business hubs. In addition to their customer-facing mode, the kiosks can be used by staff to complete transactions and access accounting, purchasing, human resources, and staff management components of a cloud-based POS system.
The mobile tablet’s highly visual interfaces and customizable menus allow the devices to serve as in-house versions of the restaurant’s online ordering system. For restaurants in particular, terminals connected to staff stations in the front of the house and in the kitchen ensure fast and accurate order processing. In addition, the insights into their customers and their business processes offered by kiosk POS systems help retailers make their operations more efficient and more effective.
The Hidden Benefits of Self-Service Kiosks for Retailers
Profit margins among retailers are among the lowest of any industry, averaging between 0.5 percent and 4.5 percent. Any technology that saves retailers labor or inventory costs can be a major contributor to the business’s bottom line. Kiosk point of sale systems check both boxes by making employees more productive and inventory management more efficient.
When customers place orders and find product information through self-service kiosks, staff members are able to spend more time performing such important tasks as solving problems and addressing customer concerns directly. When work processes are well organized and communication between staff is optimized, retailers are able to get more work done with fewer employees.
Similarly, kiosks are able to update inventory counts in real-time, which helps reduce retail shrinkage. The National Retail Federation estimates that shrinkage cost retailers 1.38 percent of their total sales in 2019. Considering the low-profit margins of retailers, any reduction in shrinkage will boost the operation’s profitability sufficiently to help keep the business in the black.
Kiosk point of sale systems improve customer engagement by indicating which items are out of stock to prevent orders being placed for products that aren’t available. They also make it easy for store clerks to identify stock that is running low from the sales floor so reorders can be placed in a timely manner.
Lastly, customers benefit from using kiosks by having ready access to complete information about the items they’re shopping for. They can view all the details about their order at a glance, and they can also be presented with special offers and upsell options that are customized to their sales history or participation in the store’s loyalty program.
Tips for Implementing POS Self-Service Kiosks
When kiosks replace free-standing POS terminals in retail stores, they make more space available for merchandise display and other uses. In addition, the mobility of kiosks that are connected wirelessly to the retailer’s POS system brings store employees to the customers to answer questions and complete sales transactions.
The key is to implement self-service POS kiosks in a way that meets the needs of customers and staff, enhancing the experience for all parties. Businesses looking to implement kiosk POS stations can follow these guidelines:
- Use kiosks as an adjunct to traditional sales terminals rather than a complete replacement to ensure that customers retain the option to make their purchases via the standard checkout process.
- Place the kiosks strategically where customers are most likely to find and use them. For example, rather than placing the kiosks in a corner or against a wall, the devices should be located in highly-traveled areas of the shopping area.
- Analyze data about how customers are using the kiosks so that you can better anticipate when and where clients are having problems using the devices. This lets you more strategically place employees nearby to assist customers in need so that fewer potential sales are abandoned.
- Test the connections between the kiosks and the POS terminals to ensure links to barcodes scanners, receipt printers, card readers, and other attached devices are operating as expected.
Since the dawn of the retail industry, one truism has remained: Give the customers what they want. Today’s retail customers want to feel like they are in charge of the transaction. They want their orders to be completed accurately and quickly, and they want their merchants to anticipate which products and services they’d be most interested in before the customers know it themselves.
The combination of real-time information and self-service transactions make kiosks a simple and inexpensive way for retailers to engage their customers and leave them feeling good about their shopping experience. Happier customers and more efficient and more profitable operations make self-service kiosks a no-brainer for retailers.
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