Panera Bread restaurants will deploy touchscreen kiosks as a replacement for human order takers by the year 2016.
Panera’s CEO, Ron Shaich, reportedly believes kiosks are necessary to make the chain’s 1,800 fast-casual restaurants even more fast so that customers no longer have to stand in line to place an order, or huddle around the counter for their food afterward. “Ordering kiosks are being phased in at Panera stores nationwide, even as the number of cash registers is being reduced. Most stores will get four to eight kiosks. At the same time, an unspecified number of cash registers will be removed.” In the alternative, customers will be able to place their orders on their smartphones or laptops/tablets while inside Panera or in advance for takeout orders.
The technology, which costs about $125,000 per store, is already in use in Boston and Charlotte and will be rolled out to an additional 150 Panera restaurants this year.
With the phase-in of ordering kiosks, Panera employees will deliver food directly to customers’ tables rather than hand it to them at the counter as they do know. Shaich claims no Panera employees will lose their jobs with the implementation of the new technology.
According to the Panera CEO, the kiosks will improve overall service and accuracy. “The dirty little secret in the food industry is one in seven orders is wrong. We’re one in ten, a little better than average. Half of those inaccuracies happen during order input.”
About a year ago, the CEO of the parent company of Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s predicted that iPads and other tablet devices would replace fast food workers because of federal and state regulations that significantly increase the cost of doing business.
In France, kiosks have already replaced some workers at McDonald’s restaurants.
Do you accept the premise that no job cuts will occur when people start ordering their burgers and fries or other fast-food fare on touchscreens rather than with a real person?
[image credit: kmf164]