There is no question that COVID-19 and the sudden onset of remote work have permanently changed the food service industry.

As leaders in the retail technology industry, we have been reflecting on just what these changes mean for businesses like yours as we develop future innovations in retail technology.

Below, we highlighted five noteworthy trends that have recently emerged.

Trend #1: Touchless Everything

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, touchless technology has become – and remains – extremely popular.

Touchless technology allows consumers to feel safe throughout the purchase process by eliminating the need to physically interact with another human being (or publicly used piece of equipment) and allows them to navigate that process on their own terms. As the desire for limited human interaction increases, the desire for convenience remains consistent, making touchless technology a vital tool to engage consumers.

Touchless technologies can take on many forms.  At 365, we have worked with our operators to add touchless capabilities throughout their office environments.  Those capabilities include everything from touchless coffee to remote OrderAhead capabilities with touchless lockers to a user-friendly mobile pay app.  Whatever your environment, there is a touchless solution right for you.

Trend #2: Incentives

Just as working remotely was a huge change for employees and consumers, returning to work and public interaction has also been a change.  In an effort to incentivize employees to return while increasing employee satisfaction, incentives programs are being adopted at an increasing rate.

There are many ways incentives are implemented in workplace environments. From employee subsidies to promotions to enhanced food and beverage experiences – employers are finding compelling ways to excite employees about their return to office.

Prior to this shift, the ability to incentivize employees with subsidies was a challenge – often resulting in the use of gift cards or spot bonuses. 365 saw this need and invested in the development of capabilities that now allow our clients to effortlessly implement, manage and customize employee subsidies, ensuring maximum positive impact.  Developments of new retail technology like the PicoCooler Breeze have additionally unlocked opportunities for employers to expand their healthy food and beverage offerings in place of traditional vending environments.

In this new and dynamic work environment, the adoption of employee incentives is here to stay.

Trend #3: The Right Product for the Right Place

During the pandemic, every business in America needed to examine how it was operating and make the changes needed to survive. The food service industry is no exception.  As consumer behaviors have changed, the focus on product assortment and location has become a critical tool in their success.

We have heard the need for assortment and placement from our partners and have worked to ensure they have products built with planogram and inventory management capabilities.  These products, like the PicoMarket or PicoCooler Breeze, both managed through ADM, enable operators to study their consumers’ consumption habits and easily optimize offerings to best fit their unique needs.

Trend #4: Mobile Accessibility

Similar to touchless technology, mobile accessibility has become an expectation of consumers.  Whether it is as their bus pass, their television remote, or their digital wallet, mobile accessibility empowers consumers to control their experience with maximum control and convenience.

  • Mobile technology has been a part of 365 for some time, via our 365Pay App. When our partners engage with 365, our 365 Pay App and suite of connected technologies take mobility to a new level, allowing consumers to seamlessly engage with any 365 unattended retail device across their campus.

Trend #5: Subscriptions

To be successful, you need more than just a subscription to Netflix. Consider subscriptions for meal plans, take-and-bake, and even coffee.

As the world has become more remote in the last few years, subscriptions and automatic deliveries have become more popular for consumers and are generally more efficient than manual ordering. Trends like order-ahead meal delivery and take-home meals are more popular than ever.

The value of subscriptions is not limited to consumers.  Business owners have adopted subscriptions to mitigate supply chain variability and improve cost controls.  From coffee cups to cleaning supplies, subscriptions have become a widely adopted tool for consumers and business alike.


What are your next steps?

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can better adopt these trends in your business, click the link below to connect with our team of experts at 365 Retail Markets, or visit us at our 365 Retail Markets NAMA booth #400.