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QSRs Begin Testing Touchscreen Ordering

NATIONAL REPORT – Burger customization via touchscreen ordering kiosks at quick-service restaurants (QSRs) is spreading, with White Castle most recently adding two such units at a renovated location in its headquarters hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

According to a report by QSR Magazine, the Columbus location is currently the only one in the 406-unit chain to feature the kiosks, which offer privacy as well as freedom of choice.

"I don't necessarily want to have 12 people around me when I am ordering. There is an intimacy and privacy about how we enjoy food," White Castle Vice President Jamie Richardson told the magazine. "The kiosk system allows customers to tailor to their tastes — they can ask for more pickle or less onion, for example — in their own space."

The Columbus location also features an open kitchen that lets customers view the preparation of their burgers and a Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain drink dispenser, which offers similar beverage customization.

White Castle's test follows a similar initiative that McDonald's Corp. launched in Romeo, Ill., and Laguna Niguel, Calif., as CSNews Online previously reported. Customers who visit the test restaurant can choose from a list of 20 toppings for a quarter-pound cheeseburger using an iPad menu.

These pilot programs follow the lead of the full-service restaurant industry. Chili's and Applebee's have both already announced they will add tablets that can be used for ordering and payment throughout their networks. In addition to letting customers order exactly what they want, touchscreen menus allow restaurants to work more efficiently, reduce labor costs, and standardize menu information and promotions, according to the report.

White Castle's test store is using the kiosks in coordination with existing employees and will not reduce its number of workers. "We are 100-percent reliable on our people to create a memorable experience. The kiosks free them up even more to provide that hospitality," Richardson said.

Neither White Castle nor McDonald's have stated whether they will add the kiosks to other locations.

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