Merchant Innovation

Wendy's Adding Self-Service Kiosks To 1,000 Locations

The automation revolution is coming soon to a counter side near you — if you happen to enjoy eating at Wendy's.

The fast good chain is planning to roll out self-ordering kiosks at about 1,000 of its retail locations by the end of 2017 in an attempt to both lure younger customers and to battle back long lines at peak dining times.

Wendy's says a typical kiosk location at the busiest restaurants will be given priority.

Wendy's chief information officer, David Trimm, notes that the kioks — apart from being attractive to millennials and a line buster — will also likely help the firm cut back on labor costs. According to Trim, the company hopes to see a return on its investment in less than two years.

"They are looking to improve their automation and their labor costs, and this is a good way to do it," said Darren Tristano, vice president with Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm. "They are also trying to enhance the customer experience. Younger customers prefer to use a kiosk."

Tristano also noted that Wendy's — as the third most popular fast food chain in the U.S. — can use this tech upgrade to boost their corporate profile.

"This move puts them at the forefront of the kiosk and tech movement," Tristano said.

Kiosks already have been installed at several central Ohio locations, where the company first tested the technology.

Order at the counter will still exist — for now — but Tristano thinks the counter service of the past is likely about to become extinct as mobile ordering and payment via smartphones will one day overtake self-ordering kiosks and cash registers.

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