FACING a shortage of cashiers, more fast-food chains are using machines to take customers' orders, with fried-chicken chain Popeyes the latest to come on board.
At its Punggol East outlet, customers must place their orders at one of three kiosks, collect a receipt and exchange it for their food from counter staff.
The outlet has not had any cash registers since it started testing the kiosks on Oct 15 last year. They were given their official launch yesterday.
Popeyes joins fast-food rivals Yoshinoya, McDonald's and BurgerUp in adopting self-ordering kiosks.
"We used to have three cash registers at the outlet but we were only able to hire up to two people to man them, due to the tight labour market," said Dickson Low, Popeyes Singapore's group chief operating officer yesterday. "This led to long queues and frustrated customers."
With the kiosks, the time taken to place an order has been halved to one minute per customer, and orders can also be customised easily.
The kiosks accept payment via credit cards, Nets and ez-link. Customers who pay by cash must hand it to staff upon collecting their orders.
The more efficient service, especially during mealtimes, has led to a 10 per cent to 15 per cent increase in sales.
Popeyes has also replaced cashiers with the kiosks at its outlets at the IMM Building in Jurong and 313@Somerset in Orchard Road. It intends to extend the initiative to the rest of its 16 outlets.
Mr Low said this does not mean his cashiers will be out of jobs. They have been redeployed as "service ambassadors" who greet customers, encourage them to return trays and even deliver orders to them.
Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck, who attended the launch, commended Popeyes for making the "sometimes difficult and painful, but necessary" change.
Secondary 2 student Eunice Yap, 14, who ate at Popeyes' Punggol East outlet yesterday, prefers the self-ordering kiosks to cashiers as they eliminate the likelihood of miscommunication.
"Sometimes, cashiers cannot hear my order properly and end up serving me the wrong order," she said.
Get MyPaper for more stories.