Self-service POS systems—POS systems that allow customers to control such processes as ordering and payment without server assistance—are growing increasingly popular in the foodservice space. It’s no wonder: In addition to saving time and labor, self-service POS systems allow restaurant staff to provide a more personalized, higher level of service to diners, thereby enhancing the customer experience and attracting repeat business.
Consumers, too, are embracing the self-service POS model: Of 1,926 U.S. adults who participated in a recent survey by Software Advice. an analysis website for restaurant technology, 54% said they would use a self-service POS system to order or pay for their food. Forty-five percent of respondents reported that they would take advantage of self-service POS systems at a casual restaurant; 35%, at a fast-casual restaurant.
However, to maximize your investment in any self-service POS solution, it’s important to understand what customers really want from technology of this type. Let’s take a look at their self-service POS system “wish list.”
1. Order customization and menu-item image viewing options. The ability to tailor orders to suit personal preferences tops consumers’ list of self-service POS “must-haves,” with 47% of individuals queried by Software Advice placing it in the number-one spot .Tablets are becoming the catalyst here, with some operators installing the units at individual tables for this purpose.
Many customers also crave the option to look at images of menu items before ordering them. Operators of table service restaurants can fit the bill using hand-held tablets, while those with quick-service establishments might consider featuring photographs of some or all of their menu offerings on tablet-based self-service POS kiosks.
2. Self-payment pathway. Consumers’ self-service POS “wish list” also includes self-payment mechanisms. This is especially true where fast-casual restaurants are concerned, as 50% of participants in Software Advice’s research said they would prefer to handle payments themselves, rather than through a server or other restaurant employee. The desire to self-pay when patronizing a QSR or fine dining establishment is much less prevalent in both of these segments, with a respective 13% and 8% of respondents to the survey expressing a wish to do so.
Moreover, 43% of respondents to the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast survey claimed they would be inclined to place restaurant orders on a touchscreen kiosk, while 47% of respondents said they would use an electronic payment system to get the job done.
3. Flexible payment possibilities. Bill-splitting among two or more diners has become a common practice in many fast-casual and fine dining establishments. Typically, servers are responsible for handling the check-splitting process. However, pay-at-the-table applications are also gaining ground, and customers may not be willing to sacrifice the speed and convenience afforded by such applications just so they may divide the check. In fact, of all self-payment features incorporated into self-service POS solutions, bill-splitting was the most frequently cited, at 39%.
The flexibility of using multiple forms of payment appears to be equally desirable, occupying the number-two spot on the roster of self-payment features favored by Software Advice survey respondents, at 31%. This is not surprising given the growing tendency among consumers to harness mobile apps, mobile wallets, and online credit and debit card payments. Restaurant operators would do well to consider adding all of these payment options to their self-service POS and traditional POS configurations alike.
As it is easy to see, consumers’ perception of self-service POS systems is highly favorable. Ensuring that these systems include features that most appeal to a majority of diners should make them a valued component of a restaurant’s technology toolbox.