How self-service retail kiosks change consumer behavior

| by Frank Olea
How self-service retail kiosks change consumer behavior

Self-service checkout technologies are expanding rapidly as shoppers gravitate toward the convenience, efficiency, and small lines that are provided by self-service retail kiosks. Based on a recent survey, 85 percent of Americans polled stated that they have used a self-service checkout kiosk, with that number rising to 91 percent for millennials in the 18-34 age group.

As self-service retail kiosks continue to grow with rising consumer demand for convenient and efficient checkout options, it is important to understand how these self-service kiosks impact consumer behavior in many ways that enhance a retailer’s bottom line ROI while also improving consumer satisfaction.

Self-Service Technologies Increase Order Size & Volume

While self-service technologies can provide a high level of convenience and expedite the ordering and checkout process, these technologies can also lead to larger orders and more total order volume.

Taco Bell found that orders through their self-checkout mobile app are 20 percent pricier, on average, than those taken by a human cashier. Likewise, Chili’s found that their self-service tablets generated a similar increase in dessert orders. Additionally, Cinemark theaters reported that their self-service kiosks have helped generate 32 consecutive quarters of increases on per-person concession orders.

Studies have shown that even a small improvement in time spent ordering can improve total order volume, with a small seven second reduction in fast food service time generating a 1-3- percent increase in market share.

Why Do Self-Service Technologies Change How Consumers Behave?

There are a number of theories as to why self-service technologies change the way consumers behave. First, kiosks and automated systems never forget to upsell. An experiment with self-service kiosks at McDonalds in 2004 found that the average check size was 30 percent higher and that 20 percent of consumers who didn’t initially order a drink would add one to their order when offered by the self-service kiosk. The conclusion was that the upsell and add-on systems integrated into the kiosk sales process was able to encourage consumers to increase the size of their order, and do so more consistently than their human cashier counterparts, which generated an overall higher per-check average.

Another factor that causes consumers to behave differently when using an automated order system, such as a self-service kiosk, is that there is no potential for social judgment by a human server or cashier. In an experiment with self-service technologies in a liquor store setting, researchers found that users of the self-service kiosk were 8 percent more likely to purchase hard-to-pronounce items than those that used standard checkout with a human cashier.

Similarly, a pizza chain found that online orders on average contained 3 percent more calories and 14 percent more frequent special instructions than those orders that were given over the phone. As consumers are free from the potential of social judgments, they will order food that more closely aligns with their true desires, which not only often leads to a larger check average, but also leads to happier customers.

Self-Service Retail Kiosks Benefit Both Businesses and Consumers 

Self-service retail kiosks are expanding rapidly as consumers enjoy not only the convenience and efficiency, but also prefer the freedom and flexibility to customize their orders to suit their specific preferences that is afforded by these self-service machines. The bottom line is that these machines not only generate happier consumers, but also higher per-check averages and better ROI for the business owners.


Topics: Customer Experience, Restaurants, Retail, Retail Kiosks, Self-Checkout

Companies: Olea Kiosks Inc.

Frank Olea
Frank Olea is the CEO of Olea Kiosks Inc. Frank has been designing and manufacturing kiosk solutions for almost 20 years and has held numerous kiosk industry Board of Director positions. wwwView Frank Olea's profile on LinkedIn

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