Unattended dining retail is the natural next evolution of campus dining. It offers more selection, 24/7 availability, and is widely accepted by all consumers, especially 18–21-year-olds that comprise the majority of college and university residents. Let’s jump into the benefits of adding unattended food and marketplace offerings to your institution and the types to consider.

Here are 3 benefits of unattended dining solutions:

1. Consumers Want It

All you need to know about consumer preferences for unattended retail with self-ordering and self-checkout is answered in the sheer number of self-service models throughout the restaurant and food service industry.

As many as one-third of US adults express giving preference to facilities offering unattended solutions. Consumers said self-service options made them feel more personally invested in the process and more in control, in turn increasing their trust overall.

2. Unattended Dining Retail is Tailor Made for Campus Dining Needs

What comes to mind with campus dining? For most, it’s slow, long buffet-style lines with the potential for bottlenecks at every station at one or two central dining halls, with staff trying to shift as many people through the chute as quickly as possible.

It’s not convenient for students who can’t get to the dining hall during the prescribed hours or who have limited time between classes, labs, and extracurriculars. Nor is it friendly for dietary preferences, needs, variety, or even maintaining a clean and sanitary environment, for that matter. It’s a one size fits all approach trying to serve what could be tens of thousands of patrons, all with different needs and wants.

It’s past time to rethink the model in four key ways.

Unattended Dining Solutions

You can transform even large-scale food service operations with 365Dining, part of our Connected Campus solution. 365Dining allows you to make dining more convenient to faculty and students with point-of-sale systems that can be staffed when you want attendants in charge and turn into unattended self-checkout stations after hours.

This 24/7 dining solution can also be spread throughout your campus with 365 Retail Markets dining capabilities. These include smart vending and food lockers that can fit into small spaces just about anywhere to on-demand and order-ahead cafeteria dining areas. Staff and students can order ahead from their smartphone anytime and work mealtimes around their schedules.

For example, our MM6 Dining Kiosk allows customers to not only order, but to also customize their order with multiple options. It also allows for the promotion of healthy foods, special offers, and featured products to help manage and move inventory.

Unattended Markets and Micro Markets

The multi-faceted nature of college life requires a multi-faceted approach to making food, beverages, and convenience items available to students. 365 Retail Markets’ kiosk and smart locker-based micro markets allow students to get access to high quality food and drinks 24/7.

Whether they’re eating late because they work after class, are engaged in sports or clubs, or are burning the midnight oil to study and need to refuel, unattended retail markets are the best way to serve this need. They can serve 10 students a day or 10,000 students a day. And as opposed to centralized options that might mean a long walk for a student after dark, markets are ideal for placement in dormitories, common areas, and even in libraries.

Smart Vending Machines

The smart vending solutions like our PicoVend, Pico Vend Mini, and 365 Touchless Vending represent the most versatile unattended retail options as they require the least amount of space. Anywhere you have an internet connection and a bit of space, chances are there’s an opportunity for you to add a smart vending system for student convenience.

The 365 Touchless Vending system also addresses people’s concerns about health and safety. Your student can order and checkout from their phone, minimizing the need to come into contact with the buttons and payment input features on traditional vending machines, thus reducing the spread of germs and viruses on campus.

3. Adding Unattended Dining is Easy

We’ve touched on benefits like convenience, safety, and things like inventory management, but those aren’t the only benefits of adding unattended retail to your campus dining offerings. Adding unattended retail can help you reduce expenses and can often be implemented easily to your institution.

Cost-effectiveness is a big reason unattended retail makes sense for campus dining. These smart, tech-based solutions allow for much more precise inventory management as well as the ability to promote the items you want people to buy. Simultaneously, if a 365 Retail Markets operator manages your unattended retail solutions, this reduces staffing costs you might otherwise need for this purpose.

Fully-managed unattended campus retail solutions allow you to stay focused on your core offerings. As such, apart from the space and wi-fi needed, you can implement a holistic food service offering faster and easier than you think.

Ready to get started? We’ll connect you with a team located in your area who knows your community and campus culture to design a custom plan for your campus and review all the options with you.

Learn More About Our Unattended Dining Technology