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No human interaction: Pizza chain creates self-serve pizza machines, will be nationwide in 2018

Pizza Portal (courtesy Little Caesars)

Want pizza without direct human interaction?

Little Caesars Pizza just made it a reality.

On Monday, the pizza chain unveiled the Pizza Portal, the first heated, self-service pizza station that allows customers to skip the line, grab their pizza, and leave within seconds.

Customers just place their order and pay through Little Caesars’ mobile app that notifies them when the pizza is ready. At the store, they just need to enter their pin or scan a code on the portal, get their pizza, and go.

No wait. No lines. No hassle.

The Detroit-based chain said that better customer service drove this innovation.

“We changed the pizza game when we introduced HOT-N-READY®. We think RESERVE-N-READY featuring our breakthrough Pizza Portal has the potential to do it again,” Little Caesars CEO David Scrivano said.

The Pizza Portal is being tested in 14 locations in Tucson, AZ, and will be in 100 stores throughout the U.S. by the end of this year. A Little Caesars spokesperson told Red Alert Politics the portals will be implemented nationwide in 2018.

Little Caesars CEO David Scrivano told USA Today that this addition hopes to drive sales and create more in-store positions.

This was the case for Sprinkles Cupcakes that rolled out a 24-hour cupcake ATM across the country in 2012. It was such a huge hit, they opened 14 more. Boosted sales from the ATMs changed actually increased the number of employees at the bakery.

“Almost every employee is somewhat impacted by the ATM,” Vice President of Marketing Nicole Schwartz said. “The bakers are baking more, the managers are now monitoring machines constantly to check inventory, and our employees are packaging the cupcakes. We hired additional employees to run the bakery operation.”

But others have voiced concerns about automation displacing service jobs. Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed told CNBC that by the late 2020s, machines and robots will run many fast food restaurants, although some human elements will still be needed.

The Yum company, owning Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell, has built kiosks into many of their restaurants overseas. Creed said that one Pizza Hut even has a robot greeter.

Middleby Corp, a restaurant equipment supplier, said that more restaurant chains were approaching them with problems of high labor costs.

Panera Bread is no different. CEO Ron Shaich said that a rising minimum wage was “one of the reasons” for replacing many employees with kiosks in 2015. But displaced workers and lower labor costs also drove Panera to add delivery options to 35-to-40 percent of their restaurants, which included hiring more 10,000 delivery workers by the end of 2017.

“We’ve been able to take hours and shift them from low customer centric activities like order-input where it’s just an extension of a cash register into high customer centric, high experience initiatives like getting your food right, having the production capabilities and actually delivering the food to you,” Shaich told Yahoo Finance.

While automation initially displaces jobs, it also creates more positions, improves customer service, and the company’s value. MarketWatch reported that the new delivery option is expected to bring an extra quarter million of revenue per year.

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