Worth Knowing: More food ordering kiosks in the Upper Valley

Submitted 2 months ago

First they showed up at McDonald's. (See Post on McDonalds kiosks/table service.) Now they're at Panera. What? Ordering kiosks.

The Panera location in West Lebanon has 2 brand new ordering kiosks. You simply walk up, touch the screen and get to ordering. It's not complicated, but it's still a little strange when you're used to - and you like to - order from actual living, breathing human beings. When you finish placing your order and paying for it, you'll take a pager that will alert when your order's ready, whether it's to stay or to go. 

The manager on duty said that most customers have been receptive to the kiosks. She pointed out that customers have been happy to learn that it's possible to customize just about any order - extra cheese, no mayo, hold the tomatoes. While it's always ben possible to do that, customers were largely unaware of the option and the counter staff generally doesn't ask if people want to customize items ordered off the menu.

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The manager admitted that not everyone is thrilled about using the new kiosks. For people who don't want to use them - and for people who want to pay in cash, there will always be someone available to take orders at the counter. And at busy times like lunch there will be at least 2 people taking orders at the counter.

Why kiosks instead of people? The company claims it's to make ordering more efficient - i.e. faster. Panera has offered a mobile ordering app since 2011 and started installing in-store kiosks in 2012. Today, it has kiosks in roughly 400 restaurants as part of its “Panera 2.0” platform, with plans to have kiosks installed in virtually all of its 2,000 or so stores within a few years.

According to Retail Drive, Panera reports that it's seeing phenomenal results because kiosk-using customers are generally happy customers - they typically get their orders faster. That might explain Panera’s savvy name for its contraptions: Fast Lane Kiosks.

I still like ordering from people. Which do you prefer? 

This is where you used to order from a person

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