Preferred Features of Self-Service POS Systems

Self-service point-of-sale (POS) systems are being adopted by restaurants and eateries across the U.S. at a greater rate than ever before. These systems allow customers to control their own actions, such as ordering and paying, without requiring assistance from a server. By freeing up restaurant staff to focus more on providing quality service, these systems can not only improve efficiency, but lead to an improved overall customer experience.

Software Advice, a restaurant advisory company, released a report on what self-service features people want to be able to use while dining. They focused on both self-pay and self-ordering technology to see how people preferred to interact with point-of-sale (POS) systems at the restaurant. They surveyed 1,926 adults to gain this insight and shared the results with Hospitality Technology.

Here are the Key Findings:
The most preferred self-service POS features are the ability to customize orders (cited by 47 percent of respondents) and the ability to view pictures of menu items (26 percent).
The most preferred self-payment features are the ability to split the bill (39 percent) and use multiple payment types (31 percent).
The two most preferred restaurant to use self-service systems are casual (45 percent) and fast casual (35 percent).
More than half, 54 percent, of respondents said they would use self-serve POS systems for ordering or paying, while 46 percent would not.
Other research likewise supports the rise of this technology. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 43 percent of respondents surveyed would order on a touch-screen kiosk if available, while 47 percent would use an electronic payment system.
The most preferred self-ordering feature was the ability to customize an order (47 percent). This was followed by viewing pictures of menu items (26 percent) and viewing specials and discounts (19 percent).
Splitting the bill was the most preferred feature (39 percent), followed by using multiple forms of payment (31 percent) and multiple receipt options (16 percent).
Exactly 50 percent of respondents said they’d prefer to self-pay at casual restaurants, while only 29 percent said they’d prefer to do so at fast casual restaurants. Fast food restaurants types were preferred by 13 percent of respondents for self-ordering and self-paying. Meanwhile, fine dining was preferred by 6 percent for self-ordering and 8 percent for self-payment.

"Data shows that casual and fast casual restaurants are the preferred formats that patrons would want to utilize this technology," said POS market researcher Justin Guinn of Software Advice. "For fast casual restaurants or QSRs, it’s essential that the menu be easily customizable and clear. For casual restaurants, the staff will need to think about self-service technology more as an 'assistant' to the server, as opposed to a replacement. Servers shouldn’t feel intimidated by this technology. In fact, if they and the restaurant operators properly leverage it, it can open up more time to focus on the customer, thus giving them the opportunity to focus more on the dining experience."

The survey results indicate that order customization, pictures of menu items, splitting the bill and multiple payment options are highly valued features of self-service restaurant POS systems. Respondents prefer to use these systems in casual and fast casual restaurant types, and those ages 18-34 are most likely to prefer the use of self-service devices.

“It’s extremely critical for restaurant owners to adopt self-service point-of-sale technology in a manner that strengthens the experience of the customer,” said Guinn. “You don't wanto just add this software just to be gimmicky. If the technology makes the diner's experience less inviting or more complicated, you'll likely see a backlash in some respect."

To view the full report, click here.
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