Before the pandemic, we saw them begin to thrive. We witnessed them adopted across the country in McDonald’s and Panera. And now, accelerated by the need to cut costs and reduce human contact, self-ordering kiosks are more crucial than ever.

According to research from Tillster, the self-service kiosk market will reach an estimated $30.8 billion by 2024. Kiosk adoption is steadily on the rise. It’s safe to say that these machines are revolutionizing the industry, so for restaurants that haven’t yet implemented this easy-to-use ordering technology, self-ordering kiosks are on the near horizon. Let’s go examine the major benefits of self-service kiosks to see why.

Right now, ordering from self-service kiosks is simply safer than ordering with face-to-face contact. Kiosks allow customers to place their own orders while maintaining social distance, thereby eliminating unnecessary human contact. Furthermore, kiosk POS systems are incredibly easy to clean between each use. Employees can wipe down screens in a matter of seconds. Alternatively, customers can clean screens themselves using a wipe from a dispenser attached to the side of a kiosk. Even once the health crisis has subsided, hygiene concerns aren’t going to disappear. A lingering desire for contactless ordering will be part of the new normal. Restaurants with self-ordering kiosks will show care for their guests and win back the trust of their in-store customers.

Self-ordering kiosks are masters when it comes to upselling. That’s because the technology allows restaurants to strategically curate their user interface and menu items in order to suggest add-ons or upgrades. Naturally, this leads to higher ticket prices.

Along with the safety benefits, self-service kiosks provide operational advantages. First, self-ordering kiosks are efficiency powerhouses. It’s no secret that kiosks reduce customers’ wait time. Restaurants with kiosks ensure faster orders, shorter lines, and happier customers.

Self-ordering kiosks increase order sizes not only by strategic upselling but also simply by their judgment-free nature. When ordering at a kiosk, customers feel less pressure and thus are more comfortable ordering, for example, extra fries or a milkshake. When all you have to do is tap a screen, it’s easier to give in to temptations, a profitable advantage of this technology.

Kiosks help restaurants collect data to understand their customers’ eating habits. For example, kiosks can easily keep track of the most popular menu items, successful add-ons, and busiest times of the day. When integrated with a full automation ecosystem, kiosks can even help track inventory levels and make menu adjustments accordingly. Millennials and Gen Z are most familiar with and expect technology in most aspects of life, so restaurants must appeal to those generations. Yet it’s not just young people who desire updated technology; the same Tillster study showed that more than 65% of customers said they would visit a restaurant more often if self-service kiosks were offered. Older demographics appreciate kiosks’ ability to decrease human error and eliminate language barriers and miscommunication.

So, with all these benefits in mind, why wouldn’t restaurants everywhere race to adopt kiosks? The current global situation is accelerating tech trends that were already on the rise, and all signs point to self-ordering technology that will propel the hospitality industry forward through the coming years. Kiosks aren’t just the distant future of restaurants; they’re the right now and beyond.

This is a big one, especially in the rough economy ahead. Investing in self-ordering kiosks will save restaurants costs on staffing by reducing the number of necessary cashiers. Front of house staff members can be delegated to food preparation or other tasks where they can help increase efficiency. Plus, when employees don’t need to constantly enter in orders and deal with long lines, existing counter staff can engage more meaningfully with customers.

What should businesses look for in a self-ordering kiosk?

Now that we have addressed some of the many benefits of self-ordering kiosks, business owners are sure to wonder which features are preferable when adopting this technology.

Customizable

Every business is different, so no two self-service kiosks will be identical. Business owners should therefore seek a kiosk manufacturer that is committed to fully customizing the technology for the business’ purposes.

Easy-to-Use

Since kiosks immediately help reduce labor costs, no one wants kiosks to create more confusion among customers, necessitating the presence of more employees who can provide technological help. The best customer-facing self-ordering kiosks have an interface that is extremely simple and intuitive to use. If the technology is too convoluted, customers may prefer face-to-face contact as opposed to automation, defeating the purpose of streamlining technology.

Comes with Support

A final tip for selecting the best self-ordering kiosk is less about the kiosk itself and more relevant to the manufacturer. Business owners need to ensure that the kiosk manufacturer is easy to reach and can offer technical support around the clock. Self-ordering kiosks are a smart investment, but things are bound to go wrong, especially as customers and employees adjust to using the technology. The availability of constant support is therefore critical.

While this tech represents the future of business, not all self-service kiosks are created equally. Business owners should carefully research to find the kiosk best suited to their business, and then they can reap the benefits of investing in automation.