The American gourmet burger chain is the latest in a wave of casual restaurants to implement the employee-free ordering system.
The announcement comes as a surprise, as owner Meyer has previously said in interview with Eater “We want you to leave [Shake Shack] just skipping with delight, and so far we haven’t found anything that does that better, either in terms of the food or the hospitality, than people.”
Several UK food chains have begun to implement kiosk ordering systems.
In March 2016, healthy high-street salad chain Tossed opened what was believed to be the UK’s first fully cashless, kiosk-run restaurant. It was fitted with Pointstone EPOS self-service kiosks, instead of manned tills, taking payment by credit or debit card, contactless or Apple Pay instead of cash. The kiosks have since been rolled out to 26 of the chain’s locations.
McDonalds has also been implementing kiosk ordering systems in the UKsince 2015, when the ‘Create Your Taste’ touchscreens were trialled in stores- although some of the chain’s French restaurants have been using them since 2004.
Cowen analyst Andrew Charles found that McDonald’s restaurants remodelled with the ordering kiosks experienced a 5-6% increase in sales in the first year following the remodel, and another 2% lift in the year after that. Similarly, a McDonald’s restaurant in Florida found that customers spent on average 30% more when ordering from a kiosk than they did ordering from a human employee.
US restaurant Panera Bread, an early adopter (2014) of the kiosk-ordering system, (which it nicknamed ‘Panera 2.0') found that by implementing digital ordering they could redistribute labour within the company to maximise profits and create jobs.
Panera focused its "2.0" developments (self-service kiosks, rapid pick up, mobile order) on company-owned restaurants, and in 2017, revenue figures from those stores posted distinctly higher sales than those run by franchises. Company-owned comp store sales grew 3% during the quarter, while franchise-operated stores saw comp store sales decline 1.4%.
In the UK, McDonald’s is aiming for the same result, as it rolled out its ordering systems amid a pledge to create 5,000 jobs by the end of 2017. The chain’s bosses aim to create these jobs through longer opening hours, with more than half of its branches now open 24/7.
The new ShackBurger-summoning kiosks will make their debut at the new Shake Shack location at 51 Astor Place in Manhattan later this month.