Cashierless in Seattle
Let me be clear: cashiers are not the issue. It’s the process that’s the problem.
Managed dining facilities need to modernize the guest experience in order to compete with the personalized guest experience offered by fast casual restaurant concepts. Café food has certainly evolved since the cafeterias of the 50’s and 60’s, but the experience has been relatively unchanged until now. Forward thinking facilities are now using technology to bring back a guest favorite: convenience.
There is lots of buzz in managed dining about cashless and/or cashierless service models. In almost all cases, cashierless operations are also cashless, but not vice versa. So, some explanations may be useful to keep everyone on the same page.
"Cashless" operations simply do not accept cash as a form of payment.
Instead, café guests pay for purchases with digital or electronic payments including credit/debit cards, digital wallets, payroll deduct, and declining balance accounts (often tied to an ID badge).
For many operations, going cashless provides operational and financial benefits including:
• Increased transaction speed (cash transactions are often the slowest option)
• Decreased losses due to theft
• Reduced labor costs due to elimination of cash reconciliation, banking etc.
While it is true that some digital payment methods like credit cards have their own associated costs, the net financial impact is still positive. In addition, the concerns over lost business are often exaggerated. Nearly everyone in a corporate or educational setting has a debit or credit card to use for purchases. The fast casual brand Sweetgreen recently went cashless because, even in a public setting, they found the benefits outweighed the few negatives. Many corporations have followed their lead, including sites managed by Compass and other top contract foodservice companies.
So should you go cashless? The answer for almost everyone is yes! But what about cashierless?
"Cashierless" is a common term referring to self-pay.
In many contexts, guests have become accustomed to the cashierless concept. Self-checkouts at the grocery store, ATMs, and self-service gas pumps have become commonplace. And self-checkout micro markets and self-order kiosks have been in use for many years in managed dining facilities with great success.
The cashierless concept has recently evolved to automate even more of the guest experience. Amazon just introduced a market concept with automated checkout, for example. And corporate cafes are looking to follow suit. Such automated facilities offer a number of obvious financial benefits, but perhaps the greatest benefit is the improved guest experience self-order technology offers.
Let’s take corporate employee Joe’s experience as an example…
In the past, getting lunch in the corporate café was stressful for Joe. His short lunch time was made even shorter by the time he spent waiting. Waiting to place his order at the grill station, waiting for his burger of course, then waiting in line at the cashier station to pay. All while his food is getting cold and his lunch hour is getting shorter.
Fast forward to today, Joe eats at the café more often than ever because the new café technology helps him enjoy his lunch break to the fullest. The lines to place orders are shorter because there are more kiosks, and he can order at whatever kiosk is most convenient. The system even remembers how he likes his burger (NO Tomato, Light Mayo). Plus, he can scan his beverage and side salad during the order process and pay for everything in one transaction. No more waiting in the cashier lane while his burger gets cold. It seems like the food is ready faster because the grill guys can just focus on making his burger. And if he’s in a real hurry, he can place an order on his phone and it will be ready for him when he gets to the café.
Ultimately, going cashierless means less waiting, more time for lunch and…
• Increased ordering velocity due to multiple ordering points
• Improved kitchen performance and accuracy
• No need to pay at a cashier station
• Even faster ordering with past order recall
• Full support for lifestyle choices like Vegan, Gluten-free
• Easy access to nutritional information
• Online/Mobile ordering