TRENDING: Turning Office Fridges Into Healthy Vending Machines

Smart vending machines and self-service kiosks are becoming a sure sign of restaurant innovation – and, if recent developments are any indication, the space is undergoing a veritable unattended retail revolution.

Industry leaders in the fast food space continue to expand their use of unattended tech, and with good reason. PYMNTS research indicates that the presence of unattended technology is a sign of an innovative restaurant.

Around the Unattended Retail World 

When it comes to quick-service restaurant (QSR) innovation, many of the space’s best-performing players are increasingly turning to in-store kiosks – including perhaps the biggest name in fast food.

McDonald’s recently announced it would add 1,000 in-store kiosks per quarter over the course of the next two-plus years. The move, according to CEO Steve Easterbrook, is designed to increase foot traffic and to give customers additional ordering options.

Fellow burger chain Shake Shack is also putting its faith in kiosks.

While the fast casual restaurant is ending its experiment with cashless stores, CEO Randy Garutti recently said its kiosks are here to stay. He recently told analysts the company is going to offer customers the choice to order from “cashiers as well as kiosks.”

For the rest of the latest Unattended Retail headlines, check out the Tracker’s News and Trends section. 

An Unattended Solution to Employee Wellness

QSRs and burger bars aren’t the only place for unattended technology, however. Vending machines are also a growing industry, powered in large part by an influx of new, healthy options designed to replace the typical sugar-filled fare.

That includes Byte Foods, a vending machine manufacturer and supplier. The company works to replace the break room vending machine with smart refrigerators offering healthy snacks, beverages and even full-fledged meals.

Lee Mokri, who founded the California-based startup in 2015 along with his wife, Megan Mokri, noted that this solution could be more than a boost to employees, but also to employers. Workers, he said, can have easier access to fresh, healthy food, while employers get a more productive workforce without breaking the bank. 

“Until today, companies have had very few choices when it comes to [offering] food in their offices,” Mokri explained. “They could offer nothing, which is what most companies do, or give away 100 percent subsidized food. That’s really expensive, and only about 1 percent of businesses are able to do that.”

To read this feature story, get the latest news and trends and peruse a directory of more than 100 providers, check out the Unattended Retail Tracker™.

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About the Tracker

The Unattended Retail Tracker™ serves as a bimonthly framework for the space, providing coverage of the most recent news and trends, as well as a directory highlighting the key players contributing to the segments that comprise the expansive unattended retail ecosystem.