The Perspective 
Tuesday, 20 January 2015

David McCracken
Livewire Digital

Pizza Hut is probably the last place in the world I’d expect to be wowed by technology. Don’t get me wrong, I love sinking my choppers into a stuffed crust as much as the next guy, but there’s not much about the restaurant chain that screams “on the cutting edge of tech.” But I can admit when I’m wrong, and boy was I wrong about this. (Watch this video and you’ll see why.)

The interactive tabletops Pizza Hut is introducing are not only fun and different, they virtually eliminate the major pain points of eating at a restaurant. They remove the annoyance of having a slow server, so you can order your food the instant you’re ready. They also take human error out of the ordering process. No matter how complicated your order, the self-service process nearly ensures it will arrive at your table correctly.

What makes the touch screens so effective is their ability to help customers visualize and customize exactly what they’re ordering. But pizza is not the only place you’re going to start seeing this new technology. Look at all the applications that are going to be happening in other industries:

1. Retail

Soon touch screens will be used like a virtual dressing room in clothing stores. Customers select a model who has a similar body type to theirs and swipe to try out different combinations of clothing styles, sizes, and colors. Then they select the favorite items, head to the register, and a sales associate meets them with their purchases, ready to check out.

2. Hospitality

Soon desks in hotel rooms will double as interactive, self-service concierges. Guests can order room service, wake-up calls, laundry services, and more. They can also browse through information on different restaurants and attractions in the surrounding area and easily make reservations straight through the touch screen software. It’s easy to see how advertising will play a key part in this set up.

3. Tourism

We’re already seeing travel centers using these types of touch screens as giant interactive brochures. Tourists touch and drag on activities, attractions, and hotels from a map onto the calendar to plan out their travel schedules. Since they can be updated in real time, these types of screens often include travel times and prices to give tourists a comprehensive overview of vacations options.

The possibilities are endless with this incredible self-service software. Here’s a restaurant that’s using these tabletops to educate diners about the origins and characteristics of different foods. What creative uses can you see for this technology?

Posted by: Admin AT 09:44 am   |  Permalink   |  
Tuesday, 19 August 2014

   By Kisha Wilson
   Marketing Manager
   Slabb, Inc.

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately about potential job loss due to emerging technologies, including robots, self-service terminals and even kiosks. It’s an interesting fear that might be rooted in events of the past including the industrial revolution which saw the loss of many jobs due to automation.

But is there enough evidence currently to worry about something like this happening in the near future? Some will argue that there already is. Panera bread recently implemented ordering kiosk which will replace human cashiers. An article on – Panera Bread Ordering Kiosks to Replace Human Kiosks, reports that these kiosks will be deployed by 2016. The goal is to not only reduce the amount of time that customers stand in line to place their orders but reduce the wait time once the order has been placed as well.

The new technology, which is already being used at the company’s Boston and Charlotte locations, will be implemented at an additional 150 Panera restaurants this year. This means there will be a reduction in the number of cash registers at each store and customers will have the option of also placing orders via smartphones, laptops or tablets while at a Panera restaurant for either eat in orders or takeout. The company insists that despite the introduction of the kiosks that there will be no job loss as employees will now be delivering food directly to customers’ tables. It’s being done to improve service and order accuracy.

McDonald’s restaurants also introduced 7,000 touchscreen kiosks at some of their European outlets that will allow customers to place and pay for orders using cash or credit. It is no surprise then that according to a report, three in ten Britons believe their jobs will be replaced by a robot. In an article by Rhiannon Williams “Almost half of the 2,000 members of the British public surveyed (46 percent) admitted they are concerned that technology is evolving too quickly and is undermining traditional ways of life.”

Maybe it’s a development that is inevitable, with the increased need for us to stay connected – always having a device that allows us to quickly access information, complete transactions and just generally do things faster and more efficiently. It seems that self-service technology and gadgets associated with it would be a natural progression given our growing dependence on technology.

However, the jury is still out, especially with regard to self-service kiosks eliminating workers. Kiosks provide an easier way to serve customers and improve a company’s ability to provide an enhanced service experience. But they can never replace the human interaction which is still important in situations where a customer may be frustrated, lack knowledge or be averse to using technology and businesses must still attempt to cater to all.

As Martin Smith, Professor of Robotics at University of Middlesex, so aptly puts it in Ms. Williams’ article, “Though many fear their jobs will be taken over by machines, it is more likely that robots will be used as assistants, and the future workforce could have the benefit of avoiding hazardous and repetitive tasks rather than suffer mass redundancies.” We couldn’t have said it better.

Posted by: Admin AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 06 November 2006
The retail market is changing rapidly, servicing a new breed of consumers who are increasingly knowledgeable and savvy. With Web-enabled cell phones, iPods, BlackBerries, and portable computers, consumers can access information at their convenience.
Armed with information on prices, features, services and consumer ratings, these customers can be a very tough crowd for retailers to please. Businesses must find ways to create shopping experiences that are interesting and relevant to not only a specific customer’s needs, but for that customer’s needs during a particular shopping trip. In today's environment, it takes strong differentiation and a compelling value proposition to compete for these consumers’ wallet share.
Advances in kiosk technology offer a wide range of opportunities to satisfy this new age of consumers. Powerful, compact kiosk units that are cost effective and can be placed almost anywhere have come into their own, offering both retailers and other businesses the opportunity to provide a technologically satisfying experience to their customers. Kiosks are now appearing in unexpected places – in store aisles for guided selling and gift registry, in hotels for self check-in, as music preview and download devices, in quick service restaurants – all of which can fundamentally improve the consumer experience.   
How about employees? Offering self-service for employees is an option that more and more businesses are pursuing. In fact, many businesses are now finding that the best way to service their fickle and demanding customers is to offer their employees kiosk solutions. Providing "self-service" solutions for their employees opens up virtually limitless possibilities to improve training, boost productivity and enhance service.
Kiosk technology is helping one popular restaurant chain improve the efficiency of meal preparation and food order delivery. Fuddruckers, one of the first known restaurant chains to use interactive kiosks in its kitchens, now uses kiosks to provide its general managers and cooks with easy access to recipes to help reduce training time and deliver orders faster and more efficiently. By replacing paper-based procedure and recipe manuals, these kiosks allow the restaurant chain to provide accurate and up-to-date food preparation instructions quickly and easily. A process that was cumbersome and used to take weeks to implement can now be done simply by sending online updates to the kiosks.
Employee turnover has always been a concern for retailers and businesses, with some establishments experiencing a rate of greater than 100 percent. How do you keep such a changing workforce well-informed on the products, accessories and services that you carry? A large office supply chain has piloted a kiosk solution that allows employees to look up information about their complex inventory while servicing a customer. They can provide the customer with real-time information about an item, as well as recommend accessory sales. The results of the pilot showed several important benefits: improved employee satisfaction with their job responsibilities, an increase in revenue from accessory sales, and more than 30 percent decline in returned goods.
These compact, portable kiosks can also be used to help ensure employees understand their benefits, company policies, and general HR information. A growing number of companies are piloting these types of applications to help educate their employees easily and quickly.
Advances in kiosk technology, and a growing number of application solutions aimed at the employee, can provide businesses with a cost effective way to differentiate and significantly improve customer service. Kiosks offer businesses opportunities to help train, inform, educate and boost the productivity of their employees. Results can be well worth the investment, by gaining knowledgeable, motivated employees who can serve customers better.
So next time you hear the term self-service solutions, remember that self-service solutions can be a viable option for employees as well as for customers. Providing a simple, unique, differentiated experience for your employees can result in enhanced customer satisfaction, higher revenue and improved operating costs. It’s hard to find fault in that equation.
Norma Wolcott is a kiosk business executive for IBM Corporation
Posted by: Nancy Wolcott AT 02:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Sunday, 25 June 2006
Juan Perez is president chief technology officer of kiosk software developer ADUSA, Inc.
The trend of changing from traditional ordering to self-service creates healthy debate, but also misconceptions. In the case of self-ordering, critics make believe that kiosks somehow detract from the customer experience.
A Chicago Sun-Times columnist writing about a deli self-ordering kiosk at his local supermarket called it “another step towards our dehumanized future.” When asked about using self-ordering to help alleviate the long lunch lines in his restaurants, the CEO of a growing sandwich chain said he wanted the long lines, because having customers waiting in long lines was a part of the restaurant’s culture. He said they can usually listen to a local musician strumming a guitar while they wait.
Both perspectives ignored the fact that a growing number of their customers are more concerned with convenience than with ambiance or old-fashioned retail charm.
Convenience is what self-service is all about. And, yes, you can have self-ordering in your supermarket or restaurant and still maintain a traditional ordering process for those customers who prefer it. Self-ordering and traditional ordering can co-exist. They complement each other well.
Implementing self-ordering at the supermarket deli or in the restaurant will free up resources to dedicate more time to customers using the traditional ordering method. Order accuracy, which naturally improves for self-ordering customers, now also has a chance to improve for traditional-ordering customers. Order size, which has been proven to increase for self-ordering customers, now also has a chance to increase for traditional-ordering customers. Lines are shorter and wait times are reduced. Both kinds of customers are served better. Order accuracy is improved. Retailers really can’t afford not to try out self-ordering in their stores.
In his column, the Sun Times columnist reminisced about when he was a boy and the butcher would give him a slice of bologna while preparing his mother’s deli order. He laments that self-ordering makes that sort of old-fashioned retail experience extinct. But he also says the self-ordering process is “efficient as heck,” and that it would be a lifesaver on a busy Saturday afternoon. He would also do well to ask a busy customer which they would value more: a few seconds of social interaction with the stranger behind the deli counter, or shaving off 10–15 minutes from their shopping trip.
Consumerism moves forward. There is no going back to the days of free balogna. Self-service gives the customer control and a growing number of customers, having tried it, will have it no other way.
Self-ordering will most likely become available in every supermarket deli and restaurant on the planet because customers will demand it. Many retailers recognize this trend and are working to integrate self-ordering into their stores and restaurants. As for the others: it’s never too late to give the customers what they want.
Posted by: Juan Perez AT 02:04 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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