Self-service Kiosks – Coming Soon to a Restaurant Near You

An Article by Jeff Hastings, CEO of BrightSign

This May we’ll attend the 2019 Restaurant Show in Chicago. We’ve attended the show for many years, during which time we’ve seen the restaurant industry embrace digital signage more enthusiastically each year.

If you look at the evolution of restaurant-based digital signage, it started out very utilitarian – primarily menu boards in quick-serve restaurants and other high-traffic establishments. The ability for restauranteurs to rotate menu items more easily and change prices on the fly was a huge leap forward compared to static, legacy signage.

As software platforms became more powerful and user-friendly, rich content became more commonplace. Menu boards were no longer just informative, they were eye-catching as well. They grew in number, to the point where video walls became commonplace. The ability to synchronize content across an array of screens opened up new possibilities for restauranteurs to present visually striking content and for stadium concessionaires to brand their stands in different ways depending on the current live event.

Despite this proliferation of digital signage, in most cases the screens remained behind the counter. But that’s changing, and changing fast.

The digital transformation taking hold in today’s restaurants is the integration of customer-facing interactive displays. Some of these are found in QSR drive-throughs, and a growing number take the shape of interactive kiosks found inside restaurants themselves.

Indeed, there was a great deal of buzz around interactive kiosks at the 2018 Restaurant Show, and I expect that trend to grow at this year’s show. The emergence of self-serve restaurant kiosks doesn’t come without its share of controversy, particularly around the question of whether kiosks will put jobs at risk. But I’m of the opinion that kiosks represent a net gain for the restaurant industry in that they give customers the choice of interacting with a kiosk or a traditional cashier. In my opinion, even the most tech-forward restaurants will embrace this self-service/full-service hybrid model for the foreseeable future. Early adopters are already on board with the idea of ordering from self-service kiosks, with mass-market acceptance just around the corner.