Ordering ahead

If you have been to a McDonald’s in the last months, you have probably seen one of these devices:


McDonald's Corp. Trials Table Service At U.K. Restaurant
Self-Serve Kiosk (Source)

By using self-service kiosks, McDonald’s hopes to alleviate congestion at the “human” terminal and save labor costs. While there is always a person behind the counter, willing to take your order the traditional way, I have seen a large fraction of customers using these devices during my scarcely visits. Increasingly, I started to use these machines because I feel that they make the whole process of ordering quicker and more convenient.

The trend towards automation based retailing is not limited to the brand with the yellow M. Flight travelers use check-in kiosks since years and they are an expected seeing at airports. A relatively current development is the fact that more and more brands are playing with the idea of “Ordering Ahead“. Instead of going into a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, ordering at a cashier or with a kiosk and then, finally, receiving your order, these services promise the convenience of ordering ahead and, as a result, assure a short visit in store.


Mobile Ordering at Starbucks (Source)

Starbucks deployed their mobile ordering system in 2015 and other brands are either testing it or having it in place. Especially commuters with strictly scheduled days and little time to wait for an order to finish seem to be keen on using it.

Admittedly, I feel some guilt using non-human ordering services and, thereby, contributing to the future loss of many jobs due to automation. At the same time, the convenience and benefits are clearly apparent and on some days I am totally fine with not having to talk to somebody early in the morning.

How do you see these services, also in regards to job losses and lack of social interaction? Did any of you ever use a self-serve kiosk or mobile application to place your order for later pickup? Which brands would you like to see adopting any of these practices?





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