When it comes to technology, this exchange between 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Dennis Duffy always comes to mind. Dennis, the self-proclaimed Beeper King, claims that “Technology is cyclical.” Liz quickly points out, “No, technology is not cyclical!”—we picture it more like a straight line in a 45-degree angle going up that moves forward and never looks back.
So when we reported recently on how many restaurants were going cashless, we just figured that’s the way things were going to go. Eventually, we’ll probably all have chips in our heads that automatically take funds out of our various accounts, so why not get a jump on things by going cashless?
We reckon that’s what Shake Shack was thinking when it decided to eliminate cash from one its New York branches. But it’s a decision the Shack is now going back on. As The Motley Fool describes, “Customers had the option of paying either through the Shake Shack mobile app or with plastic at an order-taking kiosk—but there was nary a live cashier to be found.” Employees that were cashiers switched to food prep or “guest hospitality” (so, greeting, we guess?).
Only problem: It seems that customers aren’t quite ready to let go of their cash yet. Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti stated, “There are people who have told us very clearly, ‘We want to pay with cash.’… We’re going to go ahead and have cashiers as well as kiosks.” The Motley Fool points out companies want to make sure that customers don’t feel limited by the options that are available. And cash isn’t entirely out of circulation just yet.
So could Dennis Duffy had been right? Maybe technological isn’t cyclical, but it looks like that straight line might have a few bumps in it.