In 2014, Burger King gave up on its long-time slogan of "Have it your way." Wendy's might want to snap that up though, because the fast food chain's most recent checkout experiment could give consumers more power in the ordering process than ever before.
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Wendy's is testing out self-serve kiosks in several locations throughout central Ohio. Like a checkout counter away from home, these kiosks allow diners to order and pay for their meals without ever interacting with a cashier, and since the company has plans to roll out the self-ordering installations to 6,000 locations by the end of the year, they could have an appreciable impact on how fast Wendy's can make and serve its products — and how much it'll cost, too.
"With the pressure on wages and minimum wage increasing in some places, [restaurants] are motivated,” Bob Welcher, president of Restaurant Consultants Inc., told the Dispatch. “From an operational standpoint, I can see the advantages [of the kiosks]."
The kiosks also fit into a larger push Wendy's and other fast food chains have made recently toward mobile order and checkout. Panera might be leading the charge on this particular front, with at least half of its stores outfitted with self-service ordering stations, but the issue of controlling labor costs through a greater reliance on automated processes is common across the QSR market. Wendy's payroll costs increased between 5 and 6 percent, according to the company's most recent earnings call, and any tech that can help cut into that rising category is worth a shot from a retailer's perspective, even if there are some detractors along the way.
“[The kiosks are] somewhat less personal,” Welcher said. "It gets back to millennials. It is more in tune with that generation. What’s good for part of the customer base is not good for them all.”