Food Ordering Kiosks, Part 2: Membership & Customization
In our first visit to a food ordering kiosk, we experienced the benefits of speed, the challenges of reading the menu and the difficulties of inventory.
We return to Panera armed with a membership card to explore the member experience and customization.
That Panera snack was fun, but I really wanted a membership card. I head back to Panera.
I step up to the counter and grab a card. Hmmm, the sticker says I need to register online.
There are significant gaps in the experience: 1) To get the card, I have to visit a counter. 2) Then before use, I must register it on another device. Could the kiosk let me sign up now and include the card with my order? See our previous visit for some thoughts on integrating it into a kiosk visit.
I try signing up on the MyPanera app, since there is free wifi in the stores. But with lots of fields, lots to type in, passwords I lose interest in trying to complete it right now — I’ll do this later at my desk.
It’s a little painful to precisely type an email and long password on my phone in a busy store, especially since I can’t see the password and may have mistyped. Let’s come back to this topic another day.
When I get back to my desk I sign up using the website.
Sign up is easy on the desktop, and as a bonus, a free pastry is added to my card as a reward. This membership step could be integrated into the kiosk experience, pre-filled with my name from the credit card swipe. Additional streamlining could lead to higher form completion rates, like by making email optional, not having a confirm the email field, or removing any other optional fields at the kiosk.
OK, now let’s return for lunch. I visit a store that was clearly designed for kiosk use.
This store makes space for and highlights the kiosks — very comfortable to use and obvious. The kiosks might be a little high for some users; could they be raised or lowered on demand?
I swipe my new membership card in the attached card reader, and immediately see options for rewards and past orders.
This is very easy and it’s helpful that past orders are available. Maybe making them even more direct would be possible, for example by displaying my last order ready to repeat.
I’m looking for a salad today. They all look similar, what's the difference?
This screen is dense with navigation, but all the user really needs to focus on is choosing between the products offered. There are 4 buttons per salad, and a long persistent menu on the left. Hiding the side navigation would help users focus on the task at hand. Larger product images could help users choose the right product, with a follow up step to show customization and sizing options.
Let’s customize my salad. I want it to have lots of tomatoes and add some apple slaw.
The customization screen shows small, icon-like pictures of the add ons and has a left-to-right orientation. A single column, vertical layout with large, enticing pictures and larger text would likely make this more appealing and easy to read. Also a direct way to add more or less, rather than a checkbox plus a menu, would simplify the process.
I definitely want to save my salad the way I like it!
The ability to save a customized dish is really handy. Some minor improvement around instructions could improve the experience, such as using 'Name Your Salad' instead of a generic 'Insert favorite name'.
Will my salad dressing be saved to my favorites too?
It’s unclear if further customizations will also be saved — if the system displayed the name I entered for this salad I’d feel a bit more confident I was still customizing it.
The favoriting icon is a heart, which could be misinterpreted for health-conscious option .
Thanks for the suggestion, I’d definitely like something to drink. But why is that cup photo only showing half of the drink?
The photos could be adjusted for this medium, and be larger, show full size products, and generally be clearer.
Used judiciously, this interruptive popup is an effective way to help the user find something they are likely to want (compare to the invisible left sidebar, as noted in our previous visit). The popup could be even more useful: here, consider listing some categories of beverages to be more direct (though balanced with keeping the question relatively simple).
Looks like I can save my full order. This is nice, but a lot of setup/management.
Saving the order is very useful , but why make me work? The system could remember my last few orders and suggest them, without my intervention.
All done, ready to pick up! I’m never sure about saving the credit card, but the swipe was very easy.
Small changes can improve legibility. A long title case sentence followed by a long instruction can be overlooked. Succinct language such as 'Thanks Karin L.! Save this credit card for next time?' can be more effective.
Why am I K. Lane here, when I was Karin L. on screen?
Names should be handled with a consistent approach, such as first name and last initial. Since the counter staff needs to call out names at times, the first name approach seems the most useful.
How was the overall experience?
The key benefits of the kiosks seem to the speed of ordering, ability to read the menu clearly, and to customize dishes.
Membership was unnecessarily bumpy to join, especially given the UI benefits once enrolled.
The experience of customizing a dish does not seem quite optimized for this medium yet, though it is certainly doable. But saving a favorite version as a member is very welcome and easy to do.
Cleanups around photos, language and getting people’s names in a consistent format could bring this experience up the next few notches.
Next, let’s explore more order customization at a restaurant with a very well known menu.