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Self-Serve Technology in the Hospitality Industry
News overview

Self-Serve Technology in the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry has been forever changed by the COVID pandemic. For a while, indoor dining as it had previously been known was taken away from the consumer. In one sense, humans realized how amazing it is to be served delicious food by a friendly waiter in a bustling restaurant. On the other hand, many people have realized which situations cater to contactless service in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Roughly half of full service, fast casual, and coffee & snack operators say they devoted more resources to tech including online ordering, mobile payment, and delivery management since March 2020, according to a National Restaurant Association report. The widespread use of technology like self-serve kiosks, checkout systems, and self-pouring stations has given a new look to restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, supermarkets, and other similar locations across America. Furthermore, technology providers of hardware and software have sprung forward to meet this increased demand for self-service.

Self-Serve Technology in the Hospitality Industry

Beverage Stations

Most customers know the self-serve beverage station as one that spits out sweet soft drinks and chunks full of ice. However, self-serve alcohol pouring technology have begun to appear as well. Most recently, an Idaho business sprang to life—employing this concept for an establishment called Pour Bros Craft Taproom.

The advantages of these systems reveal themselves in quick service, operation simplification, and reduced labor costs during the nationwide labor shortage. Plus, this addition to the alcohol service industry will produce new statistics regarding customer consumption as every drop is counted and measured.

Beer, wine, and certain cocktails are being kegged and connected to self-serve bars. Many restaurants understand the necessity of stocking kegged beer. However, many still stand to measure the sustainable nature of kegged wine or other kegged beverages for self-serve purposes. Wine and other spirits can be sold and shipped in bulk, rather than individual bottles—certainly appealing for high-traffic restaurants.

“One wine keg is equivalent to 26.6 bottles or 120 glasses of wine. By kegging wine, around 39 pounds of packaging are saved from landfills each year since there is no use of bottles, corks, or packaging to ship hundreds of bottles,” according to Total Food Service.

The companies providing this self-serve solution for alcoholic beverages are known as iPourIt and Pour My Beer. Both have similar technology and software—starting with RFID customer cards. These cards are linked to the customer’s tab at the restaurant and reveal data about consumption throughout a customer’s drinking experience. While most customers enjoy table or bar service, self-serve pour stations are necessary for some business models to offset the labor shortage and simplify operations.

Ordering Kiosks

For fast food restaurants and other fast casual concepts, self-service kiosks aren’t brand new. In the past, these kiosks might have been thought of as “nice to have” in certain situations. But as the pandemic passes, this hardware has become much more necessary.

Businesses like Wawa have thrived by installing self-serve kiosks, according to WorldLink. In environments like Wawa which give customers easy, grab-and-go service, kiosks have been in high demand. The hardware itself is touch screen while the software can be easily manipulated and upgraded for menu changes, order customization, and more.

In fast food situations, the assumption is that customers will order greater quantity if given the option to self-serve and customize their order. As a result, the kiosk market is expected to grow 4.5% by 2026, according to PR Newswire. Major players in this market include Toast, Frank Mayer and Associates, Meridian Kiosks, among others who service the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Supermarket Self-Service

Last, least shocking, but most certainly not least are the self-checkout systems in places like supermarkets. This hardware relates closely to restaurant and bar technology but can also be found in any sort of retail location. In years past, many customers would have opted for a cashier over a self-checkout system. However, as technology has improved and the need for such hardware has increased, self-checkout systems are gaining hold in more areas where purchases take place.

Some of the major players are Diebold Nixdorf, Toshiba, IBM, Grupo Digicon, Modern-Expo Group, and more. These companies most often supply stand-alone self-checkout systems, wall-mounted systems, and countertop self-checkout areas. Other players like Amazon plan to deliver on cashier-less supermarkets as the company tests their “Just Walk Out” grocery measuring technology.

Across the self-service space, the business environment has forced companies across the food and beverage industry to innovate. Over the many ways that technology will affect this market, self-serve alcohol as well as kiosk and self-checkout hardware have brought some of the most notable changes.

By Ryan Gallagher

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