Exploring the Trend of Cashless Cafes

Posted by Aleya Harris on 10/14/19
Aleya Harris
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Digital technologies are becoming more deeply embedded in the fabric of our daily lives, including how we pay for our work meals in the corporate cafe. Long gone are the days when cash was king. Today, most cafes accept electronic payments like credit cards and mobile payments. Some are even choosing to go cashless, and analysts believe this trend will accelerate as tech solutions in business become the norm.

The Benefits of Cashless Cafes

As with many innovations, the cashless system is facing resistance. Some companies are unwilling to adopt a system that may potentially exclude people who can only pay with cash. 

While this is certainly a legitimate concern, there are also many benefits to taking the cashless plunge:

  • Electronic payments involve less hassle which means faster payments.
  • Employees can order and pay via app or kiosk without waiting in long lines.
  • Meal points and digital rewards can be integrated into a single source.
  • A cashless system allows for tracking and analytics.
  • Process automation means an enhanced cafeteria experience for employees.

These benefits aren’t just theoretical, they have been proven through implementation by several major companies, including Microsoft.


The Microsoft Cashless Experiment

In 2013, three Microsoft company cafes underwent extensive renovations that included turning them into completely cashless environments. 

Touchscreen kiosks, as well as cashless convenience-style stores selling grab-and-go meals and other ready-made food items, were added to all three locations. Employees could place their orders on the kiosks and pay with credit/debit cards, meal cards, dining coupons, and gift cards.

The experiment was a smashing success. The cashless system sped up service and sales, while maintaining customer satisfaction. One cafe reported highly positive performance metrics since reopening: a 31% growth in participation, a 41% increase in sales, a 17% check average growth, and a 21% increase in customer counts.

Is Cashless Right for Your Corporate Cafe?

The success of Microsoft’s cashless experiment does not necessarily indicate that going cashless is for every company. Context matters, of course, and some industries may fare worse than others implementing this system. 

When deciding if you should go cashless, ask the following questions:

  • Is technological innovation part of your company’s brand and culture?
  • Are your employees more likely to be tech-savvy or old-fashioned?
  • What percentage of cafe purchases are done with cash versus electronic means?

When determining whether going cashless is right for your corporate cafe, it’s paramount to consider the overall identity of your company as well as the specific needs of your employees. So, while cash won’t go away completely anytime soon, the prevalence of this new style of café shows us that change is on the horizon.

Topics: Employee Engagement, Corporate Cafe, Corporate Dining, Food Service Companies, food service provider, guckenheimer, Culinary

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