Eighty-two percent of U.S. employees will buy meals more often from their workplace cafeteria if they can order ahead and pick up their meal from a dedicated service point, research by Omnico and The Caterer magazine has found.

Fifty-two percent will use an order ahead capability every time, if available, and 29 percent will use it some of the time. Thirty-seven percent will make two or more extra visits per week if they can order ahead.

The research, among 750 employees across the US, found that 58 percent of respondents would visit at least once more in the week if they could access experience-enhancing technologies such as ordering ahead, or are able to make payments via apps, touch-screen kiosks, wearable devices and phone-scanning.

Seventy percent said they would visit more frequently if the staff cafeteria operated a personalized, multi-channel loyalty program. A scheme offering rewards redeemable against future purchases will deliver an extra two visits per person each week, the research reveals.

Overall, technologies that cut out lines, make ordering and payment easy across all channels will increase visit frequency by an average 1.18 extra days per person each week.

“Our research makes clear that U.S. employees will visit and spend more if workplace cafeterias offer an experience that is quick, easy and genuinely personalized, whether online, via smartphone, kiosk or at the checkout,” says Mel Taylor, CEO, Omnico. “Time is precious to employees – we found that 61 percent do not visit their in-house catering facility more often because they can’t face waiting in lines.”

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said they want to place an order using a phone app, while 25 percent want to pay using a smartphone payment system such as Apple Pay.  From a list of types of promotion that employees want from loyalty schemes, 48 percent selected value meals and 45 percent want meal deal packages, allowing them to buy a discounted package of meals over a set period, benefiting operators’ cashflow, stock-planning and footfall.

“Smooth integration of technologies is essential to make the workplace cafeteria the number one choice for co-workers,” says Taylor. “As our research shows, if done right it can substantially increase revenues.”

Industry News, Technology