fast food, macdonaldsA McJob is better for you than a degree, the UK boss of McDonald’s told the newspapers recently, shortly before her boss in Europe unveiled plans to introduce robot cashiers in many of its 7,000 European restaurants.

Clearly, armed with a ranking in the Sunday Times’s 25 Best Places to Work listing, McDonalds has many strengths. It is also benefiting from rising sales as people with less money in their wallets trade down to cheaper eating out experiences.

However, the move to asking diners to order at touchscreen terminals may open an opportunity for local shops interested in food to go. While the company says it will save three to four seconds for each customer served at a touchscreen ordering point – and with millions of customers that probably adds up to some big cash number – I reckon consumers are going to weary of having to do everything for themselves.

As with the robots at supermarket c-store checkouts, there are times when it is a good option for busy people. But you don’t get to upsell or build a relationship. Some McDonalds staff are extremely good at upselling. Some are not. Some local shop staff are extremely good at building a relationship with shoppers. Some are not.

The machines will take business from shops with poor service standards. For those with good service standards, they will surely help boost sales.