3 Fast-Food IoT Technologies that Could Slow COVID-19

Some of the fast-food IoT technologies I’m about to dig into were already catching wind leading up to our current pandemic. Due to social distancing measures, it seems natural for any technology to thrive if it can help businesses operate with less person-to-person interaction in this climate. As our favorite places cautiously reopen, the following three technologies can help keep customers and employees healthy. Here are three fast-food IoT technologies that could slow COVID-19.
Ordering Kiosks
Being able to place an order for food indirectly has existed since the telephone. Right now, there’s a need for added layers of separation between people in fast-food restaurants. Using a kiosk to order has never been more helpful.
What is an Ordering Kiosk?
Ordering kiosks are large, rectangular screens that you can place an order on. The technology itself has been around since the late 1970s, thanks to people like Dr. Murray Lappe at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Major fast-food restaurants like Subway and McDonald’s began experimenting with these screens and ordering back in 2006.
In a 2018 interview , then-McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook shared with CNBC that the company would be starting ambitious plans to equip 1000 restaurants every quarter with kiosks for eight to nine quarters. The alternative way of ordering would provide better customer experience and more revenue for the company.
Fast-forward to summer 2019 and the investment paid off. In a Q2 earnings call last year, Easterbrook went over how the company was seeing higher average checks from customers using the order kiosks.
Not Everyone is a Fan of the Ordering Kiosk, Though.
Former CEO of McDonald’s USA, Ed Rensi, voiced his concerns about the growing Kiosk use about two years ago in an article with Forbes. His main problem with them was that automating these parts of the business would eliminate valuable opportunities for teens and college students who need an entry-level service industry job . Considering the valuable lessons from my own experience as a cashier back in college, I agree with the concerns.
How They Help Slow COVID-19
In our current environment, things like kiosks need to be cleaned almost constantly. McDonald’s has issued reopening instructions that any restaurant using the self-order kiosks must have them cleaned after every use. The kiosks will help employees in terms of social distancing and the employees will help the kiosks to stay clean. For the time being, then, they will work together.
The IoT kiosks are just one piece of the order, though. Customers who are still wary of using them (despite cleaning protocols) do have other options. By now, most major restaurant chains offer an iPhone or an Android app plus a website for placing online orders.
Smartphone apps and online ordering, in general, will come in handy for this...