Across college campuses in North America, technological advancements are making meals more efficient. For example, self-serve kiosks allow students to use touchscreen displays to easily view menu options, including photos, descriptions and complete nutritional information. These kiosks can support hundreds of made-to-order recipes. The menu can be quickly changed or customized by foodservice staff. Completed orders can be displayed on a digital monitor or sent via text message to the student.
Online ordering apps are becoming more prevalent on campus as well. This option is especially helpful for students who have little time to spare between classes or meetings. They can order same-day or in advance, select a pickup time, bookmark their favorite meals and avoid waiting in line. One particularly popular application is Tapingo, a free app available on both the Apple and Android market, that is used by over 125 colleges in the United States. Tapingo allows students to order food from non-self-serve restaurants on campuses and pay via meal plan or credit card.
Most advantageous for the institution, these applications can provide students with a review feature to provide feedback about each meal.
Foodservice directors at large companies are also adding technological advancements to their operations and are taking the lead from the college campus environments. For example, Microsoft’s headquarters campus in Redmond, Washington has over 40 cafes and serves nearly 60,000 people every day. Self-ordering and self-checkout is already a feature at a dozen of Microsoft’s cafes. Remote ordering apps are also available. By instituting these time-saving technologies, businesses can reduce the amount of time employees spend eating lunch off campus and reinvest that time into their workday.
With self-serve kiosks and online ordering in place, these non-commercial dining venues run more efficiently with less food waste. Integrated reporting tools and reviews via mobile applications help dining service staff better understand which menu options are performing well and which aren’t, so they can more accurately stock food inventory. Plus, wait times are dramatically reduced or eliminated and more people can be served per day with greater customization.
Entegra Procurement Services regularly publishes blog posts on food trends and innovations in food services. Entegra is more than a group purchasing organization (GPO): Our team of procurement specialists implement strategic sourcing to bring the most value to your business. We help our clients, in many segments ranging from the healthcare supply chain to restaurant supply, to cut costs and consolidate their portfolios.