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Survey: Preorder could mean huge B&I meal purchase increases

More than four in five employees surveyed claim they would use the workplace cafeteria more if they could order ahead.

Pre- and mobile ordering is a thing, clearly. Commercial restaurant chains are increasingly turning to it to grow business and appeal especially to tech-savvy younger consumers, who are already driving the growing prevalence of mobile order platforms like Tapingo and GET in the college market. Even healthcare and K-12 are getting in on the act.

Now comes some evidence from a survey of 1,500 U.K. and U.S. employees (750 from each) by point-of-sales systems vendor Omnico and British foodservice publication The Caterer that indicates that vast majorities of respondents in both countries would substantially increase their patronage of onsite dining options if mobile ordering were available.

Overall, 82 percent of those from the U.S. said they would buy meals more often from their workplace cafeteria if they could order ahead and pick up their meal from a dedicated service point, while 52 percent would use an order-ahead capability every time and 29 percent would use it some of the time.

The research also 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 would be able to make payments via apps, touch-screen kiosks, wearable devices or phone scanning; 37 percent said they would make two or more extra visits per week if they could order ahead.

In other findings, 70 percent said they would visit more frequently if the staff cafeteria operated a personalized, multichannel loyalty program. A scheme offering rewards redeemable against future purchases would deliver an extra two visits per person each week, the research reveals.

Overall, the researchers conclude, technologies that cut out lines and make ordering and payment easy across all channels would 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 checkoutå,” said Omnico CEO Mel Taylor in a statement accompanying release of the findings. “Time is precious to employees—we found that 61 percent do not visit their in-house [dining] facility more often because they can’t face waiting in lines.”

As for platform preference, 48 percent of those surveyed said they would 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 wanted meal deal packages that allow them to buy a discounted package of meals over a set period.

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

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