Research Outline

Self-Service Adoption Challenges


To provide an analysis of the most common adoption challenges customers/consumers have in terms of discomfort with using self-service options in the restaurant industry, as well as examples of how companies in the space are addressing these challenges. Research has to specifically focus on restaurants that have in-store self-service via an app or browser so that food can be ordered at the table on a phone / a device, etc.

Early Findings

  • On-table ordering tablets often pose a wide range of challenges to the customers and the restaurant business owners.
  • For example, if an entire table is allotted one tablet to complete the order, it can make the ordering process unnecessarily longer and irritating.
  • Restaurants that use on-table ordering tablets are expected to get much of the press coverage and reputation centered around the use of the tablet, resulting in the overlooking of its unique cuisine, exceptional staff, or tasty drinks.
  • On-table ordering devices also fail to answer every question a guest has. It also cannot predict the needs of the guest like an experienced server.
  • Overall, research indicates that 65% of the Baby Boomers are not interested in ordering for themselves in a restaurant as compared to 40% of Gen Y and Gen X diners.
  • 13% of fast foodies are also not interested in self-service.
  • Digital ordering systems also involve maintenance costs and run the risk of occasional malfunction.
  • Self-serve RFID technologies for alcoholic beverages, used by companies such as Pour My Beer, are expected to minimize wait times and remove barriers between staff and customers, allowing them the space and time to interact more freely and provide beverage suggestions and information.
  • However, the concerns involved in the use of such technology include: irresponsible drinking, loss of tips, and weaker customer-bartender connection.
  • Launched in 2015 in San Francisco, Eatsa was a fully automated restaurant which appeared as “too much” for the customers and the brand had to close all five of its outlets by 2017.
  • Some common disadvantages associated with automated restaurants are: the lack of emotional connection, difficulties in using any part of the automated system, inability of the system devised with set parameters and boundaries to solve complicated problems, the high costs of setting up.
  • As far as the scale of the costs involved in setting up the business is concerned, Boston based automated restaurant Spyce had to raise US$25.9 million to cover the initial costs of setting up.