McDonald's has announced its plan to roll out electronic self-serve kiosks to each of its more than 14,000 locations in the U.S., but the company says the new equipment will not lead to job losses.
The touch-screen kiosks, which McDonald's has reportedly found success with in Europe, allow customers to enter their orders into an automated system. The customers still need to pick up their food from workers at the restaurant's counter, according to BuzzFeed.
While some media outlets have speculated that the increase in kiosks is due to rising labor costs and calls for a higher minimum wage, McDonald's issued a statement that cited smartphone usage, as well as an attempt to pursue a different type of clientele, as its primary reasons for installing the new self-order stations, according to Snopes.
McDonald's said that with the new screens, the company "will have an opportunity to hear directly from our customers in real-time on what they expect from McDonald's in terms of the overall restaurant experience and their ability to further customize their menu choices," reports the Orange County Register.
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Jeff Davis, the president of Sandelman and Associates, a fast-food consulting firm, said the new touch-screens are a response to "fast-casual" dining that has risen in popularity in recent years, such as Chipotle and Potbelly. "McDonald's is becoming way more adult-focused," he said.
Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald's, told investors about the success of the same self-serve kiosks in France, where the devices are in every McDonald's store in the country. The devices reportedly account for 40 percent of the order-taking during busy meal times, and Easterbrook added that the system reduces the checkout line as well as freeing up more workers to take on different roles.
Easterbrook added that customers ordering on the screens tend to buy more food.
"We see higher average checks," said the CEO. "They can browse the menu for a little bit longer, feel a little less pressure and they just tend to spend more."
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The company said the automated kiosks, which are already in about 500 McDonald's locations in New York, Florida and California, according to The Daily Caller, will not lead to a reduction in the chain's workforce.
Easterbrook said the new screens are not expected to reduce the number of workers in McDonald's restaurants as workers who would previously spend more time taking orders will be "redeployed" to instruct customers on how to use the self-serve kiosks as well as helping customers operate the company's mobile ordering app, according to Reuters.