Why self order kiosks are NOT labor savers

As minimum wage and food cost increase and margins begin to shrink, major brands and hospitality businesses are looking for more and more ways to improve efficiency. If you’ve heard that self order kiosks are labor savers, let me be the first to tell you that’s not entirely true.

The most common reasoning is because a business will be able to hire less staff because with self order kiosks they won’t need cashiers. Sounds reasonable. In theory this is true. However in practice, this is not necessarily true.

In this article, I’ll go over some of the main reasons why you should not consider self order kiosks as a labor saving technology.

We’re in a transitional period


Although self order kiosks are popping up more and more there are still plenty of people, business models, and store layouts that are not well equipped for self order kiosks. What this really means is that we’re probably going to see the need for at least some cashiers in the near future in order to supplement for those customers who are not comfortable with using self order kiosks to place an order. Some store layouts just make it difficult for customers to order from a self order kiosk and adopting them may just not be effective enough for customers to use.

Additionally the number of kiosks that actually accept cash is even fewer. Self order kiosks generally do not accept cash. As a result, businesses will still have to accept cash at the POS or register. As we transition into a more and more cashless society this may change, but for now cash is still alive and well.


Sometime in the near future we’ll see some of these issues start to fade but just like it took time for people to start adopting smartphones in the same way it’s going to take time for customers to fully adopt self order kiosks.

If you do it right you’ll need more staff


Self order kiosks can definitely increase business and improve order efficiency. With this added benefit also comes some issues that restaurants will need to address which is kitchen and operational efficiency.


Initially, it will probably be a smart idea to bring cashiers from around the counter and have your staff guide customers through the self order kiosk process.

Once the majority of your customer base is in the swing of things your ordering efficiency can dramatically increase. This increase in orders per minute can now cause your kitchen and operational staff to bottleneck. In the long term, this is probably where restaurants are going to need to beef up their staffing at the back of the house.


So as you can see self order kiosks are no magic bullet to just dropping the cost of human resources or just cost savings in general. If it’s done correctly business volume will increase and most likely increase labor costs rather than lower the cost of labor.


Then why should you consider Self Order kiosks?

The shortest answer is that Self Order Kiosks can provide things you just can’t get with people.

  • Better Data Collection – studies have proven that people more often provide their personal information such as name and phone number to a computer compared to a cashier asking for the same information.
  • Better Ordering Experience – a more consistent and convenient ordering experience
  • Better cater to customers needs – self order kiosks can cater to a customers dietary needs and preferences and provide information cashiers generally do not know.
  • Recall Previous Customized Orders – pulling up a previous customized order makes ordering faster and easier.
  • People order more from self order kiosks – psychologically you’re not going to be judged by a machine if you get extra cheese and pepperoni or larger fries.

So there you have it. Self order kiosks are not necessarily the magic bullet to saving money on labor. However we can see that labor savings is not the real value of self order kiosks. The greatest value is that it’s able to deliver and provide an improved customer experience that is not possible with cashiers.

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