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12/08/2021

Self-Ordering Kiosks Deliver Positive Results for CEFCO

The retailer has achieved a reduction in customer wait times and an increase in order accuracy.
Danielle Romano
Managing Editor
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TEMPLE, Texas — Foodservice remains one of the most critical ingredients in a convenience store operator’s success, especially in the face of the current challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the labor crisis, and supply chain breakdowns.

One convenience channel retailer that has developed a craveable menu with signature fresh food offerings, and done so in an efficient way, is CEFCO Convenience Stores, the Temple-based operator of 200 stores across Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida.

The company launched the CEFCO Kitchen concept in May 2020. Bringing foodservice to the forefront, CEFCO Kitchen features an extensive lineup of made-to-order items, spanning burritos, tacos, bowls, handheld snacks, hot and cold sandwiches, and fresh-baked pastries.

"We wanted to differentiate ourselves with well-rounded offers that are well-received from customers with a unique value proposition," CEFCO's Director of Foodservice Jeff Foley said during a recent Convenience Store News webcast entitled, "The Power of Customer Innovation: A Look Inside the Success Story of CEFCO Kitchen’s Innovation."

Through on-site surveys over the span of several months, CEFCO learned that even though customers loved the taste of the c-store retailer's food and its value was on point, they were craving more fresh toppings and condiments, and expressed that wait times for orders were too long. Additionally, an analysis of market research showed that customers wanted bigger portions, a variety of bolder flavors, and a gamut of offers.

"As we continued our market research and customer intercepts, we realized our niche needed to be variety, customization, keeping up with quality products, and faster speed of service with a personalized touch. Because hospitality is a big deal in Texas, our customers expect to have an individual conversation with every one of our employees every time they come into the store," Foley explained.

CEFCO determined that self-ordering kiosks would play an integral role in improving the customer experience through fresh food menu personalization and a more seamless way to order. The retailer began searching for a technology partner with extensive experience, a demonstrated ability to deliver an immediate turnaround, customized software, and a quick and easy interface for both customers and employees.

After evaluating 30 companies, CEFCO decided to partner with software company Reji LLC to launch self-ordering kiosks inside two Texas stores. The kiosks were developed using technology from Reji, and a model from designer and manufacturer Olea Kiosks Inc.

"Not only did Reji's plan have all of the items to fit our needs, but the company fit our culture around foodservice, which is modern but rustic at the same time, and that can be difficult to capture," Foley said. "It was clear [Reji] put a considerable effort into our program and did not deliver a cookie-cutter solution, but instead one that was customizable." 

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At the kiosks, customers place their orders, which are then sent to the KDS, or Kitchen Display System, where kitchen associates see the order. Customers are instructed by the software to take their printed ticket to the front counter and pay while their orders are being prepared. Upon completion, kitchen associates "bump" the order, print out a chip and attach it to the order before calling it out.

Savory Results

CEFCO saw immediate positive results after implementing the self-ordering kiosks. According to Foley, the retailer experienced a 50-percent reduction in customer wait times during peak periods and a 60-percent reduction during non-peak periods. Additionally, it achieved 99.5 percent order accuracy and 100 percent happier employees.

The foodservice director offered the following breakdown of the direct financial benefits of the kiosks, as well as customer and employee benefits:

Financial Gains

  • Grew 3 percent year over year in customer count vs. pre-kiosks;
  • 27 percent ticket lift on foodservice orders, attributable to a 1,900-percent increase in "add-on" upsell items (e.g., extra meat/cheese/bacon, cookie, beverage, etc.);
  • 9 percent growth in cold dispensed beverages vs. non-kiosk CEFCO locations;
  • Item and portion consistency; 
  • Reduction in photography and food styling costs, which is now done internally; and
  • ROI calculations show positive growth both overall and monthly. 

Customer Benefits

  • Improved speed of ordering; 
  • Improved speed of throughput; 
  • Increased menu offering; 
  • Customization;
  • Order and item consistency; and
  • Easy-to-use interface. 

Employee Benefits

  • Labor efficiency; 
  • Improved employee production speed;
  • Enhanced training, leading to reduced turnover; and
  • Easy-to-use employee interface. 

Foley noted that the highest affinity sales with kiosk transactions are other foodservice items, resulting in additional margin and increased profitability. Customers are also spending money on other items in the store as they make their way to the checkout counter with their printed order receipt. 

The webcast also included a panel discussion moderated by CSNews Editorial Director Don Longo, who sat down with Foley, Reji's founder and Chief Technology Officer Bernard Espanola and Reji's CEO Frank Yoder to discuss the operational benefits of the kiosk solution, how it was outfitted to fit CEFCO's needs, and the ease with which it functions.

For a replay of the webcast and to hear what the panel had to say about CEFCO's success with Reji’s integration, click here

About the Author

Danielle Romano
Danielle Romano is Managing Editor of Convenience Store News. Read More