Hunter Merck, Contributing Writer
Dinner time. You’re starving and you’re feeling so lazy, you decide to head to your favorite fast food restaurant. You get in the door and the line feels like a mile because you’re so hungry. Then you remember the kiosks in the corner and you feel like this is the best thing that’s ever happened to you. You walk right up, order and sit down. Before you know it, there is your food ready for you all because you used the kiosk. But, what about the cashiers? Why don’t they replace them all together? What do the kiosks mean for the owners of these businesses?
In basic economics, the higher the minimum wage, the higher the standard of living. This means that the prices of everything must go up. In response, stores will either have to raise their prices to accommodate for spending more to pay employees, or they have massive cuts of employees to keep their prices the same. This means that there will either be less employees who have to do more work, or there will be an increase in prices at the stores. There may be some cuts in the future of employees if minimum wage goes up, but for now, the future of tech ordering may actually be good for the sales of fast food restaurants.
Panera Bread, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s are all working on or currently using kiosks for ordering inside their restaurants. While it may look like these kiosks would replace the workers, for the most part, the labor is just being reallocated. According to Business Insider, “the touchscreen technology is meant to speed up the ordering process.” By speeding up the process, it will make fast food places more efficient and make it easier for more people to order in a shorter period of time. The fact that these stores are reallocating their employees to keep up with the demand of orders coming in, proves that more money is coming in. If they were losing money, or staying the same, they might would need to fire the current cashiers because there is not enough work to be done. Marissa Fuller, employee at Panera Bread says, “A good amount of people use the kiosks if the line is long or they’re just getting a drink.” This means, more employees will be needed to prepare more food to keep up with the pace of people ordering. According to Business Insider, sales have increased in stores that have added kiosks.
Some places are using the machines as an opportunity to cut spending and increase sales. There may still be more workers to keep up with the demand of orders being placed in short periods of time, but in an article by Quartz Media, Robert Wright told investors for new machines in Wendy’s that they will decrease labor costs. They’re able to get more orders in which brings in more money. Because they are spending less money on cashiers, they are able to save money on their employees, therefore, they can reallocate into improving their quality. The machines are more efficient with orders which means having them leads to less room for human error. They also will never be sick, they don’t need vacation time, and they don’t have to worry about any legal issues with machines like they would with humans, according to Quartz Media.
The one thing that machines cannot do for any business is have a real human connection. Economically, they may be great, but making relationships is really important to a lot of businesses and that’s the best reason to keep cashiers around for a little longer. The Hardee’s brand is also working to make sure they are doing the same. According to the CEO, they know that people are used to real cashiers and are more comfortable with that. Those that do not want to cut their employees are “reapportion[ing] that labor into service oriented roles that we think will benefit the customer,” according to USA Today. This will definitely help with the public relations aspect of these restaurants, which may drive more people to eat there. They get the best of both worlds by having face to face interaction, while still using a more efficient method for ordering. Fuller says, “I never thought about the kiosks fully taking the jobs of the cashiers…Panera is really big on having a relationship with our customers.”