Five Food Trends in Campus Dining  

Here are five trends that are “in” and they’re making their way into the campus dining space.

  • Vegan & Vegetarian Options

Universities and Colleges are realizing that some students have certain dietary restrictions and that they’re growing in number, quite rapidly. The reasons for withholding from eating dairy, meat, fish or other animal byproducts could vary from religious reasons, environmental reasons, health consciousness, Lactose intolerance or just pure personal preferences. As this group continues to grow, campus dining directors and food service companies are expanding their options to make satisfy everyone on campus. So yes, Tofu is here to stay.

  • Gluten-Free Options

More and more campuses are now providing Gluten-Free menu items and this means a lot to some students, especially ones with gluten intolerance.  Although Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity in general is present in a small percentage of most populations, about 1% of the US population suffers from Celiac disease (Healthline), the increase in the demand for these gluten-free options could be because they are seen as a healthier option compared to traditional bread and wheat products. Whatever the reason, gluten-free options are in demand and the variety of options will just continue to increase.

  • Locally Sourced Ingredients

Fresh ingredients always make the best main ingredient for any good dish. It’s no surprise that students are demanding locally sourced ingredients in comparison to produce coming from halfway across the world. Not only that but purchasing locally means helping local businesses and the surrounding community, so it just makes sense to many people. A major value proposition Food Service Providers are now offering is that all their ingredients are locally sourced and are of highest quality. Fresh good food will always be in demand but today it’s a trend that’s combatting global food supply chains that offer lower prices for lower quality ingredients, and students aren’t having it.

  • Made from Scratch Menu Items

Another value proposition food service providers are utilizing is the “made from scratch daily” movement. This goes hand in hand with the demand for locally sourced ingredients, since it leads to fresher and higher quality meals. Students no longer want frozen pizza or oven ready-made lasagna packaged three months ago; they want fresh and tasty food made right in their campus dining hall. This trend is emerging because students are realizing that campuses are trying to cut costs by giving students the short end of the stick and they’re speaking up about it now more than ever.

  • Global Dishes & Flavours

North America is home to numerous cultures and nationalities, so does the food scene must accommodate. It is no surprise to see Indian food or a Middle Eastern Tabbouleh Salad in a college in rural Missouri or Arkansas. These dishes not only provide a taste of home to the thousands of international students in North America but also provide locals with a breath of fresh air from regular food options of burgers, pizza and garden salad. As cultures continue to mix and intertwine, so will the culinary innovations and achievements.

Campus dining is an area which will always be going through changes since the demand comes from millennials, a group of individuals that are know to push for change and catch on every new trend. Therefore Food Service Providers and Campus Dining Directors should always keep an eye and ear out for the latest demands. Click here to learn how Lucova’s Campus Dining Platform can help your foodservice and campus dining hall know what students are looking for right away with our feedback and rating system; this will always keep your service one step ahead of the curve.

Sources: http://www.healthline.com/health-news/is-non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity-a-real-thing-041615#1

Make Experience Your Business

A recent article titled 5 Retailers That Have Made Experience Their Business published by www.cmo.com shines some light on the biggest trends that are currently taking place regarding retail businesses that are impacting both online and brick & mortar store fronts. Here are the 5 retailers that have been profiled in the article and how they are evolving their brands more experience based.

 

  • Sephora

Sephora is creating an in-store and online experiences that creates a sense of community and shows customers that they are valued. If you are visiting the physical store you can get a makeover with expert artists or join a beauty class that covers topics such as “age-defying skincare”. Online Sephora.com has “The Beauty Workshop” which is a collection of How-To videos created by what they call  “Beauty Talk Community” to engage with their customers and provide advice on how to use their products. This unifies their in-store and online experiences to deliver a congruent message.

 

  • Lululemon

From the start Lululemon always tries to be integral part of its local community wherever it is, this still holds true today. Lululemon does this through a variety of means; it turns its stores into yoga studios with classes led by local instructors; it has an “inspiration” section on its website for community members to know what’s happening at local stores; and an in-store bulletin board where employees and other members of the community can share their goals and accomplishments. The Lululemon brand really lives by its brand values and always provides an experience to its customers.

 

  • Kohl’s

One thing Kohl’s is doing to reshape it’s in-store experience is that they are transforming 85% of their store layouts to offer a unique experience every time you visit a different Kohl’s store. They are also creating a greater online presence with three different fulfillment options; order and pick-up in store; buy online; and ship from store. The results so far have been that last year 39% of all orders were fulfilled through one of these three channels. Kohl’s has also launched Kohl’s Pay which allows customers to pay with their phones and save on purchases.

 

  • Rebecca Minkoff

To keep in-store retail alive, CEO Uri Minkoff introduced what he calls “Retail 3.0” at two Rebecca Minkoff locations. Developed in collaboration with eBay is a large interactive screen at the entrance of the store, the screen allows customers to search through products, order drinks to enjoy whilst shopping, and provides recommendations for customers. Even the fitting rooms come equipped with interactive mirrors that allows customers to pick and choose what they would like to try on without having to leave the fitting room. The data from the mirror can also be synced with a mobile app so users know what they liked, disliked, and the sizes that worked for them. The experience is really unique to the retail environment and encourages customers to visit the physical stores. What this brand is doing is a great example of how technology can aid and transform the in-store experience.

 

  • Apple

The experience Apple provides does not only stem from the store layout and the technologies it has at hand but mainly from their employees and the culture they hold so highly. At Apple you are always greeted with highly energetic, comforting individuals who are also product experts that can really help you decide what product is best for you. Another critical aspect is that at Apple you don’t have to grab the item and go wait in line at the cash register. The employee who welcomes you and informs you about the products is the same one that will process your transaction at the point of engagement, which is critical to keep the customer journey experience seamless. Apple’s in-store culture will always be iconic because it’s human-centred but is heavily aided with their technology.

Read more about these retailers here.

 

It is clear that the retail landscape is going through major transformations in order to keep the in-store experience alive ,engaging, meaningful and unforgettable. One part of the customer journey that almost all retailers are looking to make more seamless and efficient is the transaction and sale at the point of sale system (POS). Apple does make the transaction more seamless but there remains some friction points since it is still a traditional transaction. The customer still has to reach for his phone or wallet, they still have to provide some personal information, and then they receive a receipt for the purchase (digital or physical).  

At Lucova we have revolutionized this experience with our In-store Success Platform, turning traditional POS system into a Point-of-Experience™. Our POE platform makes every transaction persona, frictionless and seamless for customer. Customers can just walk in, be greeted by name, and walk out with their product without having to take out anything from their pockets or even have to regurgitate their personal information. 

To learn more about Lucova’s Point of Experience platform, click here. 

FIIT Point of Experience

 

You’re familiar with a Point of Sale (POS), the system that allows merchants to process and capture transactions, but exactly is a Point of Experience (POE)?

A POE does everything that a POS does – process payments, manage inventory, track sales etc., but there’s a key differentiator. Rather than focus on the transaction, the POE compels brands to focus on the person behind the transaction. Every checkout experience begins with the face and name of the customer standing in front of the terminal. It also contains relevant details about the customer’s likes/dislikes and unique interests, so that their interactions with brands become more meaningful and seamless.

 

If you are looking for a Point of Sale that can create personalized in-store customer experiences, talk to us about FIIT Point of Experience™. Click here to learn more

Three Key POS Trends Driving Innovation

We are indeed going through transformation and disruption across all industries based on innovative technological breakthroughs in recent times. Retail, Food Services, Hospitality and other industries where physical commerce occurs is undergoing similar transformations as new technologies emerge.  In a recent article published by PointofSale.com, Larry Fandel of Fujitsu America, Inc. and Wei Huang Oania, of Intel talk about three such trends in the retail industry driven by innovations in POS systems.

The authors make an insightful observation that “the truly exciting part is that there’s no end in sight; technology will only expand its influence in purchasing decisions for many consumers as retailers increasingly turn to new technologies and products to bridge the gap between digital and physical retail environments.”

Here are three key POS trends that are shaping the industry, as discussed in the article:

1. Usage of big data analytics will increase

2. Increased focus on a personalized in-store customer experience

3. Cloud adoption will increase and outdated legacy systems will be replaced, creating new opportunities for future proofing

From thee trends, we can identify “personalized in-store customer experience” as key innovation when it comes to disruption in retail industry. Accuracy in personalization is becoming increasingly possible with the use of biometrics and artificial intelligence (AI). At Lucova, we have taken these innovations into FIIT Point of Experience™ which allows us to provide a  personalized and humane experience at retail locations. FIIT Point of Experience™ provides the POS operator the ability to refer to customer by their name, provide personalized offers, identify and address account issues and recognize their degree of loyalty.

Larry Fandel & Wei Huang have also pointed out in their article that “customers know the technology retailers have available to them, and in return, expect a better experience because of it.” This is especially true with younger and millennial customers. As we pointed out before, the expectations of millennial customers living in the age of Uber, WhatsApp, WeChat and Tinder are much different than previous generations. Their  expectation can be looked as a challenge by retailers, however it does create an opportunity to make the right changes to future proof business, by adopting new innovations and technologies.

Read the full story here.

 

If you are looking for a Point of Sale that can create personalized in-store customer experiences, talk to us about FIIT Point of Experience™. Click here to learn more

What Gen Z consumers want

We all know that Millennials love their technology but Generation Z takes it a step further, they are technology natives that are expecting more and more from their mobile devices and the companies that serve them. Foodmanagment.com recently put together an article titled What Gen Z restraunt consumers want. The article summarizes the highlights and talking points at the Nation’s Restaurant News (NRA) show. It puts into perspective what players in the foodservice industry should expect from their consumers, especially the younger generations.

One common theme that is prevalent is that food services have to incorporate technology if they want to stay relevant to these coming generations.  Adam Millman, the senior director of Yale Dining went as far as saying that Generation Z  “are willing to wait two hours to go to a place that has the technology behind it, versus the brand they are comfortable with”

If one thing is certain it’s that students and the coming generations want technology to be their point of access. As Millman put it “We’re telling a story. This generation wants to know why we are doing things. And we’re telling that story through technology, which is their major form of communication.”

Read the full story here.

 

Becoming a millennial friendly service

A number of campus food service providers have been undergoing pressures from students to change their operations. Some students are looking for better menu items, others are asking for higher quality ingredients or for items to be made in-house from scratch. Food service providers and university/college administrators have become much more conscious of these demands and are starting to respond. This article is written to help with that response and to prevent these critiques in the first place by keeping the service millennial friendly.

Outlined below are three simple ways to do so.

Give More

If you offer something of value millennial will stick around but most likely they will want to be rewarded for their loyalty. From Air Miles, rebate credit cards, to traditional punch cards, for millennial it’s the norm to get something back for business. Not only do these freebies provide them with instant gratification but it also allows them to justify why they are such loyal patrons to your business. Incorporating any loyalty program (even if it’s the outdated paper punch card) will ensure that you hold on to a number of good apples. 

 

Feedback & Ratings

Upcoming generations are realizing more and more that they have the power to influence business and that the feedback provided by them is heard and accepted by businesses. Thus being able to rate, comment, and write a review on products or services has become the norm. If you want your business to become more millennial like then you have to give users the option to rate and provide feedback. This is always a double-edged sword, for one you can get good constructive feedback and improve your operations or it could go the other way around and you can get destructive exaggerated feedback that can turn potential customers away.  However, one thing is for sure, if your service is poor and you do not provide a rating and feedback option, users will find other places on the internet to shun your business. So giving them a place to vent internally is always better than a place to attack externally.

 

Technology

Almost everybody has a smartphone in their pocket now, along with a number of Mobile Apps that have become permanent part of daily routine for everyone. Today, one can pay, transfer money, enter buildings, and even control the utilities and appliances at home through various mobile apps and services available on smartphones. And who are the greatest users for these smartphones? That’s right – millennial. Therefore, it only makes sense to digitize food service as well and enable students to make use of their phones. A good example of this would be coupons,  baby boomers might look to receive them in their mailboxes while millennial look in the email inbox or on one of the many mobile apps that provide digital coupons. If you want to be embraced the millennial and be known as millennial friendly service, then you have to meet with them where they are –  in the digital world.

 

3 Ways Food Service Operators Can Win More Campus Contracts

The process of attracting new clients in any business is a tough and lengthy process, especially when the contracts stretch over a long period of time. There are multiple stakeholders and procedures that require close attention. When it comes to campus food service contracts, this can be even more difficult as food services play a key role in day to day lives of college students resulting in routine assessment of their performance by both administrators and students alike. Here are some tips food service operators can keep in mind when they’re going for those RFPs:
 
1. Show that you can interact with you students and provide a more personal service 
  • Allow students to rate and provide instantaneous feedback on your service
  • Know students by name
2. Stand out and have your own end-to-end solution for every campus
  • Have your own Point of Sale (POS) system to offer your campus clients
  • Take ownership of managing meal card services for the campus so you can create more value in your customer’s eyes
  • Have your own branded mobile app which students can use to store digital meal cards, check their balances, and much more

3. Have a Mobile Pre-order & Pay option on your branded app 

  • Allow students to skip the lines and order ahead
  • Give students the ability to pay with their phones along with standard meal cards

These are some of the areas we focus on with our campus food service clients like Fresh Ideas and Creative Dining.

Picture Verification Is Becoming More Important For Campus Dining

As a student, it can be enticing to sneak in a friend or two, to enjoy the all you can eat dining services on campus which are open to students who pay for a meal program. This of course is unfair to the students who do pay to access these services. As a food service operator, who plan their meal quantities based on the number of students officially enrolled into their programs, this places an unexpected burden. To combat fraudulent use of campus dining services, more and more food service operators are turning to technology to help them monitor their dining traffic to ensure only eligible students are able to access the services. At the core of these solutions is picture verification, which also protects students against theft.

“By introducing iPad tablet computers as POS devices at two of its dining centers, University of Connecticut (UConn) Dining Services has both sped up the process of admitting students and also cut down on fraudulent use of ID cards to gain entry. That’s because the tablets display a larger and clearer image of the cardholder than the photo on the card, making the identity verification process easier while flagging unauthorized users.” Read the whole story here.

Picture verification can also assist with identity thefts on campuses:

“Three men at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford have been arrested on allegations that they made numerous vending machine purchases with someone else’s student ID card.

According to a Bradford Era report, court records reveal that a student at the university reported her campus ID card lost when the zipper on her wallet ripped. Between the time the card was lost and the new one was activated, however, the student realized that someone had rung up $71.25 in vending charges.

Upon checking her account, the summary showed 51 purchases made at vending machines across six different campus buildings — 46 of which were made within a three-hour period.” Read the whole story here.

 

Looking for a Point of Sale system with picture verification built-in? Talk to us about our Lucova Campus platform.

The Benefits of Ditching Cash

A recent WSJ article entitled “Why your business should ditch cash?” detailed the trend towards card and mobile payments by businesses. Tech has enabled the cashless economy by making it easy for companies big and small to make the move. Here are some highlights from the piece.

Cashless businesses might face less crime

“After his business was robbed for the fifth time in just over three months, the owner of Park Cafe & Coffee Bar in Baltimore decided to do something that would have seemed radical for a neighborhood business just a few years ago: He stopped taking cash. It was a desperation move, but what happened next surprised owner David Hart. His sales didn’t go down.”

Transactions become faster and more effective

“A much larger experiment conducted by salad chain Sweetgreen, which has 66 locations on both coasts, yielded the same result. After a year-long trial, the company has decided to go completely cashless in 2017, says a spokeswoman. There were many factors in its decision, from increased transaction speed to the unhygienic nature of cash, but the first reason Sweetgreen’s spokeswoman cites is the same as Mr. Hart’s—keeping employees safe by reducing the chance of robbery.”

Customers have better, more convenient experiences

“Then there is the way we Venmo or PayPal our friends to settle personal debts instead of handing over twenties, the fact that you can now pay for parking with a credit card or an app instead of quarters, and the decline of cash-based toll booths—not to mention the rise of Apple Pay and its ilk, and of in-app payments for everything from ride-hailing services to takeout food. The net effect of all these small changes is that Americans of a certain demographic are simply falling out of the habit of using cash.”

Contact us at info@lucova.com to find out how our technology is enabling cashless transactions across North American campuses.

When Automation Makes Sense

Automation, and the removal of human interaction, doesn’t make sense for every sector as we previously discussed. But there are instances where its application has benefits. Zume Pizza, a one-year-old pizza chain startup, seems to be such a case. According to The Hustle, Zume Pizza wants to make the world’s most profitable pizza through robotics by hiring very few humans and using the savings for these benefits:

  • Zume uses the money it saves by employing fewer people to give the people it does employ better pay (delivery drivers make $18/hour, compared to $8/hour plus tips for places like Domino’s).

  • All workers receive fully subsidized health, vision, and dental coverage.

  • Thanks to spending just 14% of sales earnings on payroll (Domino’s spends 30%), Zume can source ingredients from nearby organic farms, even as it scales… which means more local farms will open and more people will be hired.

In this case, automation immediately has reduced human jobs, but downstream its giving more jobs to local farms and better wages for the small staff it employs.

“A similar thing happened when bar code scanners came out in the 1980s.

Dramatic prediction: No more cashiers ever! Actual result: Humans were still needed, and the number of cashiers grew by an average of 2% every year from 1980 to 2013.”

The takeaway? Automation is not all doom and gloom. As long as its appropriately applied, it can have a positive impact.