Faced with higher labor costs and stagnating growth, Wendy’s said Monday it will add something new to its menu: technology.
The Dublin, Ohio, hamburger chain will install self-ordering kiosks at about 1,000 locations by the end of the year.
A typical location would have three kiosks, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Higher-volume restaurants will be given priority for the kiosks.
The kiosks are intended to appeal to younger customers and reduce labor costs, according to Wendy’s chief information officer, David Trimm, by allowing customers to circumvent long lines during peak dining hours while increasing kitchen production.
Trim estimates the company will see a return on its investment in less than two years.
“They are looking to improve their automation and their labor costs, and this is a good way to do it,” said Darren Tristano, vice president with Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm. “They are also trying to enhance the customer experience. Younger customers prefer to use a kiosk.”
Kiosks are also valued by fast-food chains like Wendy’s because they provide data about customers.
“This move puts them at the forefront of the kiosk and tech movement,” Tristano said.
Kiosks already have been installed at several central Ohio locations, where the company first tested the technology.
Customers will still be able to order at the counter for now, although Tristano predicts that mobile ordering and payment via smartphones will one day overtake self-ordering kiosks and cash registers.
Wendy’s said last week it expects same-store revenue to grow 2 to 3 percent in 2017, after growing less than 1 percent in the fourth quarter. Labor costs are expected to rise 4 percent in 2017, the company said.
Wendy’s shares were trading up 2 cents a share in pre-market activity.
With Post wires
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