According to an EHI study, self-service checkouts were already in use in more than 1,200 retail stores in August - in the restaurant trade, the checkout without cashier is still new. Yet here in particular, new solutions are more important than ever. We present three reasons for introducing automated self-service terminals in the restaurant industry.
A checkout without a cashier in retail essentially changes nothing in the payment process: both the cashier and the customer scan the barcode of the product, which is then recorded on the receipt.
In the food service industry, the initial situation is more difficult: food does not have a barcode. The cashier in the cafeteria perceives the customer's food and enters it into the POS system. The decisive factor is the recognition of the respective dishes.
For VisioLab, we rely on a technology that replaces human perception and automates product recognition. The technical basis of this solution is an artificial intelligence that has been trained with thousands of images and is thus able to reliably recognize the selected dishes.
This is how the intelligent self-service terminal works in the restaurant industry:
- The customer selects his food at the appropriate stations as usual and goes to the self-service terminal
- An iPad with our software is available at the self-service terminal
- The software recognizes the drinks and food via the integrated camera
- The recorded order is automatically forwarded to the POS system
- The customer pays for his order contactlessly via the payment options supported by the existing POS system
While Germans are traditionally considered skeptical of new technologies in payment, the need situation has changed in the wake of the Corona pandemic. Only 18 percent now prefer paying in cash to paying by card. This new openness is also hitting related areas. 4 out of 5 customers have already used a self-checkout system - and 60 percent would like to see more such payment options in the future. The reasons from the customer's point of view are obvious: Shorter waiting times, ease of use and convenient payment make the payment process as uncomplicated as possible - this applies not only in retail, but also in canteens, cafeterias and restaurants.
Long queues are a sales killer in the catering industry in two respects:
- At peak times in particular, the existing staff is not enough to cope efficiently with the rush of customers. This has economic consequences: More than half of customers have ever left a line because of waiting too long. A self-service kiosk reduces waiting time in line because multiple terminals can be operated without additional staff.
- For businesses, this means potentially higher throughput. Contactless payment removes the moment of social control when paying. Many people order more if they don't have to pay a human employee in the process. For example, a 2017 study found a 20 increase in order volume when using self-service concepts in the restaurant industry.
In the Corona crisis, introducing resilient hygiene concepts has become the most pressing challenge in the restaurant industry. One of the critical issues is payment: exchanging cash always involves a risk of transmission, and even with a contactless payment system at a manned checkout, there is at least brief contact in close proximity with another person. By using automated self-service payment systems, this point of contact can be eliminated. In this way, restaurateurs enable both their employees and customers to make secure payments.
With the Corona pandemic, the entire catering industry has been plunged into crisis. But the changes also hold an opportunity: customers are becoming more open to digital technologies. With an AI-driven self-service kiosk, restaurateurs can lay the groundwork today for the customer journey of the future. Customers select their food at the appropriate stations, have it scanned by the food recognition system, and pay conveniently via the existing POS system.
The AI-controlled self-service terminal fits perfectly into the existing concepts of canteens and similar gastronomic offerings, while at the same time offering the opportunity to increase throughput at the checkout and minimize order cancellations.
Since the Corona crisis, there has been a real shortage of staff in catering establishments. Due to numerous lockdowns, they have been reorienting themselves professionally.
Nowadays, it's hard to imagine many areas of life without artificial intelligence.
The classic cash register with a drawer for cash has faithfully accompanied us for more than a century. Yet in just a few years, it could be a relic of the past.