The Fast-Food Kiosk: Technology in Fast Food

Posted by Patrick Maness +

It's appropriate that the fast-food industry, which changed the way the world eats by offering ready-made meals, is taking full advantage of technologies that make ordering and picking up food even faster and more efficient.

People can order fast food online and by stepping up to the self-serve kiosks at the front of their favorite restaurants. A fast-food kiosk allows customers to easily customize their meals and get their food quickly. Not only does this increased automation help restaurants serve more customers in a shorter amount of time, but managers have found that it also increases the price of the average order.

Currently, these kiosks are being installed in select McDonald's and Panera Bread locations, mostly in major metropolitan areas. It’s likely, too, that they'll reach beyond the fast-food industry and eventually land in sit-down restaurants.

Order, pay and be entertained

If you’ve been in an airport in the past few years, you’ve probably seen tablets on restaurant tables — maybe you even ordered from one. One of the largest providers of these table-side kiosks is Ziosk. Diners across the country run approximately 50,000,000 orders through a Ziosk kiosk each month, and thanks to contracts with major chains such as Olive Garden, Red Robin and more, it’s likely they’ll become much more common in the coming years.

From a customer's point of view, a Ziosk station makes it easy to order drinks and appetizers as soon as they've been seated. It eliminates a big part of the “waiting” common to the dining experience — waiting to order entrees, waiting to order another drink, waiting for the check, etc. For restaurant owners, this leads to quicker turn-over time, which means more checks and more revenue.

Additionally, Ziosk tablets provide a platform with which guests can remain connected with a given restaurant. Guests can offer real-time feedback, join loyalty clubs, check in and share their meals on social media, and much more.


Despite the enthusiasm people have for Ziosks, some worry that these self-serve kiosks will depersonalize the restaurant experience. While this is certainly a legitimate worry, many have found that whether it’s a McDonald's kiosk or a table-side tablet, this type of automation actually provides guests with more individualized attention. A server may not be around as much, but in an industry that is constantly changing, self-serve kiosks represent one more shift in the customer service — one more way to provide guests with exactly what they want.

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