The movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour across the U.S. just got some unintended results as McDonald’s announced it will be replacing cashiers in its American restaurants within two years.
McDonald’s has already been adding self-service ordering kiosks but according to CEO Steve Easterbrook, the fast-food giant will now begin to roll out the kiosks in 1,000 new stores each quarter, CNBC reported.
The “Fight for 15” movement and available new technology are likely behind the company’s decision to boost the transition from cashier to kiosk.
“If you think about only two years ago, if you were a customer there were two ways you can get served at McDonald’s,” Easterbrook told CNBC on “Squawk on the Street” on Monday. “You walked to the front counter and line up and take your drink and find a table or you go through the drive through. We’re introducing many options. They can order through mobile, they can come curbside and we’ll run it out as well as the existing traditional ways. You can pay in different ways and customize your food in different ways. I think we’re trying to add more choice and variety.”
The kiosks are already “fully integrated” at McDonald’s locations in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia and most locations in France and Germany use it as well.
“The U.S. is a little bit behind,” Easterbrook said.
About half of the 14,000 U.S.-based stores will have the kiosks by the end of this year, Easterbrook estimated while predicting that every location will by 2020.
Customers tend to “dwell” at the self-ordering stations, according to Easterbrook, which translates into more purchases.
“What we’re finding is when people dwell more, they select more. There’s a little bit of an average check boost,” he said.
Many states and cities have passed laws requiring a $15 per hour minimum wage, and McDonald’s is one of the “Fight for 15” movement’s biggest target.
The updated restaurants “still have cashiers,” McDonald’s spokesperson Terri Hickey told BuzzFeed News. “Kiosks provide another option for customers to order and pay. We’re finding with kiosks, customers tend to feel less rushed, take their time, browse the menu, and often order more.”
More from BuzzFeed:
McDonald’s and other restaurant companies are wrangling with rising labor costs in the US as minimum wage hikes take effect in markets around the country. In the first quarter of the year, McDonald’s payroll and employee benefits were 30.2% of sales, up from 27.8% during the same period in 2017.
While Hickey did not say roughly how many cashiers are being replaced by kiosks, she said the restaurants are shifting those workers to other roles: “[With] the addition of self-order kiosks, restaurants are transitioning some roles to more customer engaging positions like Guest Experience Leaders and table service.”
McDonald’s is also reportedly exploring food delivery options, such as ordering through a mobile app and delivering food on Uber Eats. Which might be good news for the cashiers displaced by the automated kiosks – they can now be drivers for the delivery cars.
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