Pulse.ng logo
Go

Strategy Shake Shack is adding more cashless kiosks as part of a trend sweeping the fast-food industry. Here's how to use them.

  • Published:

Shake Shack announced plans to go cashless by replacing cashiers with automated kiosks in October 2017. But many customers hated the idea of a cash-free restaurant, and Shake Shack soon abandoned those plans, though it still plans to add ordering kiosks to new locations.

The Shake Shack restaurant on Astor Place only has automated kiosks — no cashiers. play

The Shake Shack restaurant on Astor Place only has automated kiosks — no cashiers.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

  • Shake Shack opened its first cashierless location in Manhattan in October 2017. The intention was to move towards cashless stores with digital ordering and payment systems.
  • By mid-2018, the fast-casual burger joint had abandoned these plans, in part because of customer backlash.
  • In the future, Shake Shack restaurants will have automated kiosks in conjunction with cashiers.
  • We visited the cashless Shake Shack restaurant in New York City, and found that the experience was a lot easier than the reviews made it out to be.

In late 2017, Shake Shack set out to go cashless, opening its first kiosk-only location in New York City.

Though the intention was to transition to a more seamless operation and become more digitally inclined, the plan backfired — by May 2018, the chain had already abandoned its plans to go cashless.

On an earnings call in May, CEO Randy Garutti said, "Some of the things we've clearly seen is that our guests do often want to pay with cash."

He continued: "In the first rollout at Astor Place, we did not accept cash at all, and there are people who have told us very clearly, 'We want to pay with cash.'"

One Yelp user wrote in a review of the Astor Place location, "The new kiosk ordering system is the worst. It makes this Shake Shack 'card only' and you can barely customize your food the way you can when you order with an actual human being. The kiosks are also supposed to make things go quicker, but the wait is even longer than at a Shake Shack where you can order with an actual person."

Though the plans to go cashless were abandoned, the fast-casual chain still plans on adding kiosks in its newest locations, though those kiosks will be in conjunction with cashiers who accept cash. Shake Shack said in its May earnings call that it planned to open four or five new locations with kiosks by the end of the second quarter.

Shake Shack isn't the only fast-food chain with plans to automate some of its operations. McDonald's recently announced that it plans to add ordering kiosks to 1,000 of its stores every quarter for the next two years, and Panera has committed to digitizing its ordering process.

We visited the Astor Place Shake Shack in New York City to see what it was like to order at the kiosks. Here's what we found:

The Shake Shack on Astor Place has replaced all of its cashiers with kiosks. Upon walking in, I was directed to the kiosks by two employees who were stationed near the entrance.

play

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


There were close to 10 kiosks at the front of the store, and they were set up in a semi-circle. I went pretty early in the day, and no one who walked in had to wait in line.

There were close to 10 kiosks at the front of the store, and they were set up in a semi-circle. I went pretty early in the day, and no one who walked in had to wait in line. play

There were close to 10 kiosks at the front of the store, and they were set up in a semi-circle. I went pretty early in the day, and no one who walked in had to wait in line.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The welcome screen on the kiosk directed me to tap on a category. My options were drinks, retail, flat-top dogs, burgers and chicken, crinkle-cut fries, shakes and custard, and beer and wine.

The welcome screen on the kiosk directed me to tap on a category. My options were drinks, retail, flat-top dogs, burgers and chicken, crinkle-cut fries, shakes and custard, and beer and wine. play

The welcome screen on the kiosk directed me to tap on a category. My options were drinks, retail, flat-top dogs, burgers and chicken, crinkle-cut fries, shakes and custard, and beer and wine.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The category pages were pretty straightforward. On each page, you can see a photo of the item, the price, and the categories. To see more, you can swipe in either direction as you would on an iPad or smartphone.

The category pages were pretty straightforward. On each page, you can see a photo of the item, the price, and the categories. To see more, you can swipe in either direction as you would on an iPad or smartphone. play

The category pages were pretty straightforward. On each page, you can see a photo of the item, the price, and the categories. To see more, you can swipe in either direction as you would on an iPad or smartphone.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


As someone who typically takes forever to decide what to order, it was a huge advantage to be able to go back and forth on the menu without anyone staring at me, waiting for me to decide.

As someone who typically takes forever to decide what to order, it was a huge advantage to be able to go back and forth on the menu without anyone staring at me, waiting for me to decide. play

As someone who typically takes forever to decide what to order, it was a huge advantage to be able to go back and forth on the menu without anyone staring at me, waiting for me to decide.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Once I tapped on the burger I wanted, I was able to see more details about it and select how many I wanted to add to my cart.

Once I tapped on the burger I wanted, I was able to see more details about it and select how many I wanted to add to my cart. play

Once I tapped on the burger I wanted, I was able to see more details about it and select how many I wanted to add to my cart.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


In the top corner were two buttons for more information. Tapping on the "allergens" button allows you to select which foods you need your meal to be prepared without.

In the top corner were two buttons for more information. Tapping on the "allergens" button allows you to select which foods you need your meal to be prepared without. play

In the top corner were two buttons for more information. Tapping on the "allergens" button allows you to select which foods you need your meal to be prepared without.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The other button in the corner alerts the restaurant staff that you need help with something or have a question.

The other button in the corner alerts the restaurant staff that you need help with something or have a question. play

The other button in the corner alerts the restaurant staff that you need help with something or have a question.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Once I was ready to check out, I was able to see everything that I had added to my cart. The system suggested other options I might want to tack on to my order.

Once I was ready to check out, I was able to see everything that I had added to my cart. The system suggested other options I might want to tack on to my order. play

Once I was ready to check out, I was able to see everything that I had added to my cart. The system suggested other options I might want to tack on to my order.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The kiosks had a card reader that you could insert your card chip into. It accepted credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, but not cash. The entire restaurant was cashless.

The kiosks had a card reader that you could insert your card chip into. It accepted credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, but not cash. The entire restaurant was cashless. play

The kiosks had a card reader that you could insert your card chip into. It accepted credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, but not cash. The entire restaurant was cashless.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


After placing my order, I was prompted to enter my name and phone number so I could be contacted when it was ready.

After placing my order, I was prompted to enter my name and phone number so I could be contacted when it was ready. play

After placing my order, I was prompted to enter my name and phone number so I could be contacted when it was ready.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The last screen allowed me to enter my email so I could be sent my receipt.

The last screen allowed me to enter my email so I could be sent my receipt. play

The last screen allowed me to enter my email so I could be sent my receipt.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


I received a text about 10 minutes after I placed my order, telling me my food was almost ready.

I received a text about 10 minutes after I placed my order, telling me my food was almost ready. play

I received a text about 10 minutes after I placed my order, telling me my food was almost ready.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

The kiosks were straightforward and clear to use, and it was easy to customize meals. It also seemed to speed up the ordering process quite a bit — there were always open kiosks, and there was never a line. Though some customers had expressed confusion about the process, there was a big "help" button on the kiosk at all times, and there were plenty of people standing by to assist.