Is this the future of fast food?
Wendy’s announced last month it plans to install self-ordering kiosks in 1,000 of its restaurants by the end of 2017. Competitor McDonald’s has seen success with similar kiosks and table service at locations nationwide, and industry experts say the demand for such technology is growing, particularly among millennials.
“Younger customers prefer to use a kiosk” over ordering at the counter, Darren Tristano, vice president with food service research and consulting firm Technomic, told the Columbus Dispatch. “[Wendy’s] are trying to enhance the customer experience.”
Such a move will also save money in the long run. While installing three kiosks will cost a Wendy’s franchise about $15,000, the machines will pay for themselves in less than two years, thanks to labor savings and increased sales, according to David Trimm, the chain’s chief information officer.
“There is a huge amount of pull from [franchisees] in order to get them,” he said of the kiosks. “With the demand we are seeing … we can absolutely see our way to having 1,000 or more restaurants live with kiosks by the end of the year.”
One downside to installing kiosks is a possible future loss of jobs. A recent five-percent wage inflation forced Wendy’s to eliminate 31 hours of labor a week, and technology may someday phase out counter workers entirely. And that’s just the beginning; Trimm and Tristano said the chain is looking into developing a smartphone ordering and payment system, which would allow Wendy’s to get rid of cash registers.
For the time being, the kiosks will give Wendy’s the freedom to shift current employees to other areas, such as the kitchen, which will increase efficiency and output.