$15 Minimum Wage in the Age of Self-Service Kiosks: Pt. 3

In our previous blog, we covered the five W’s of self-serve kiosks -- who, what, when, where and why.  Now it’s time to begin taking a more in-depth look at how self-service kiosks are being utilized -- often in some lesser-known ways -- and the benefits that can be gained both for those deploying them and end-users alike.

With a range of industries investing in consumer-facing digital kiosks, it stands to reason that the ways in which they are being deployed also vary widely. From Delta Airlines’ self-service check-in areas, to Staples’s digital catalogs in brick-and-mortar stores, to Panera Bread’s customer-initiated kiosk ordering process, consumers are seeing this technology more and more frequently, presented in increasingly diverse ways. This exposure, in turn, results in a level of comfort with using these types of technology that simply didn’t exist even five years ago.

Self-Service Kiosks Aren't Just for Multi-Million Dollar Companies

Because large companies have paved the way for the use of self-service kiosks, it’s become easier and more affordable for smaller companies to install them in their businesses, too. This is especially important, as some of the companies that will be hardest hit by the implementation of a $15 minimum wage are not the giant conglomerates, like Yum! Brands, but instead, “mom and pop” operations. For instance, Assistant Professor Ryan Buell of Harvard Business School recently discussed some interesting research showing that self-serve kiosks in liquor stores (which are very often locally owned) actually increased purchases of certain difficult-to-pronounce items by 8.4%.  Why? People didn’t want to ask a clerk for something they couldn’t say.  In that case, automating the process by using a kiosk allowed customers to buy a product without feeling embarrassed that they couldn’t say it correctly.

Self-Service Kiosks Create Cost Efficiencies in Food Service Environments

Not having to hire as many employees at a higher wage after automating the process would also potentially help add to the business's bottom line. In the same discussion, Buell noted study results that correlated a 7-second decrease in service time with a 1-3% uptick in market share for fast-food restaurants -- a massive increase in an industry constantly searching for ways to differentiate in order to nab loyal customers from competitors.

This kind of increase could then possibly be extrapolated out to apply to smaller establishments as well.  Restaurants are notoriously low-margin; if customers could walk into their local diner and order on a kiosk before sitting down, and receive faster, more accurate service, it stands to reason that they would be happier with their experience and more likely to return. As an added boon, the table would also turn faster, resulting in the ability to seat a greater number of customers over the course of the day. Just seating a table just one more time per day in a restaurant with 15 tables and an average check of $25 could result in an annual increase of $117,000, if they were open 6 days per week.  Not exactly small change, literally or figuratively, especially for a small business, and the $15 per hour savings that would result from only needing one front-of-house employee rather than two over an 18-hour day could potentially save almost another $85,000 a year. Taken together, this type of automation may add more than $200K to this small business’ revenue -- more than justifying the long-term investment required to purchase one or two digital kiosks.

In our next blog, we’ll discuss additional benefits of self-service kiosks, and finish up with a discussion of some of the drawbacks, in particular, how the typical pitfalls can be avoided with smart advance planning. Want to know how REDYREF can help your business thrive with self-service digital kiosks? Simply submit a request for proposal online or call (800) 628-3603 today for more information.

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