Paperless Potential: Why Kiosks Are Yet to Go Fully Digital


In recent years, the fast-food industry has witnessed a revolutionary transformation in the way customers place their orders. Quick Serve Kiosks (QSKs) have become increasingly prevalent in fast-food restaurants, offering a convenient and efficient way for hungry customers to select their meals. However, despite their many advantages, one significant drawback is the continued use of paper receipts, which somewhat contradicts the goal of creating a fully digital experience. In this article, we will explore the rise of QSKs in fast-food establishments and discuss the need to address the issue of paper receipts to achieve a truly digital dining experience.

The Evolution of Quick Serve Kiosks:

Quick Serve Kiosks are touchscreen self-service machines that have gained immense popularity in fast-food chains globally. Customers can browse menus, customize their orders, and pay seamlessly through these digital interfaces. The benefits of QSKs are evident: reduced waiting times, improved order accuracy, and enhanced customer satisfaction. However, the full potential of this technology is yet to be realized due to the persistence of paper receipts. Typically when a kiosk is out of paper, it’ll stop processing orders until the operator refills the paper printer. This therefore reduces the amount of QSK points available to customers and increases wait time, one KPI F&B operators strive to reduce as a way of improving NPS score. 

Why Paper Receipts Remain:

For some it might seem ironic that customers that engage with a self-serve kiosk, pay with a digital method such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, and then receive an analog paper receipt as proof of their purchase. This paradox highlights the gap between the convenience and efficiency of digital ordering and the persistence of legacy paper-based practices. Customers may question the purpose of such a transition if they ultimately receive a tangible, analog piece of evidence for their digital transaction.

Legacy Processes:

Fast-food chains have traditionally relied on manned checkout counters equipped with printers that generate paper receipts. This legacy thinking, deeply embedded in the industry's operations, extends to Quick Serve Kiosks (QSKs) as well. Many decision-makers within these establishments view paper receipts as an integral part of the dining experience. Shifting this mindset and embracing fully digital transactions can be a daunting task, often met with resistance from stakeholders who prefer the familiarity of paper receipts.

Technical Limitations:

Transitioning to a fully digital receipt solution requires robust technical capabilities, which not all fast-food establishments possess. Implementing a digital receipt system demands investments in infrastructure, software, and knowhow. Smaller or less technologically advanced chains may find it challenging to make this leap, especially if their existing systems lack the necessary integration and compatibility for a seamless transition. In some cases, the cost and complexity of upgrading may outweigh the perceived benefits.

Addressing the Issue of Paper Receipts:

While paper receipts present challenges, the fast-food industry can take steps to minimize their impact and move closer to a fully digital experience:

Digital Receipts via QR Codes:

A seamless approach would be to allow a customer to scan a QR code on the kiosk screen once the payment has been made. When scanned the mobile browser will open and load the digital receipt. One the receipt a customer can find the order number, as well as the items they have purchased. 

Digital Receipts via card-linking:

If a larger F&B merchant has developed their own app, they could ask the customer to add their payment card into the app, which would allow a method of automatic identification after the payment and a means for receipts to land into the merchant application. In this scenario a customer would not need to scan the QR code as they would have already pre-registered with the merchant app. 

Hybrid model

A merchant could implement both QR code and card-linking which would support both registered and non registered users. It would allow the merchant the ability to turn off paper printing completely and deliver a seamless digital solution. 

The rise of Quick Serve Kiosks in fast-food restaurants has undoubtedly transformed the ordering process, enhancing efficiency and convenience for customers. However, the persistence of paper receipts has prevented the industry from achieving a fully digital experience. Balancing the needs of all customers while striving for a more sustainable and digital future remains a challenge, but it is a challenge that can be overcome with thoughtful strategies and innovation. 

ReceiptHero is here to guide merchants both in the retail and F&B sector to a paperless future, both reducing operational costs and waste in-store. 

Contact the team for more information