When it comes to the quick service restaurant industry, the biggest pain point for customers is long lines. Rush periods like lunch can have you waiting to pay, for most of the available time you might have to grab a bite before heading back to work or class. Precious time that could be spent on socializing, running other errands or just sitting down and relaxing. In most cases, the only reason that a line forms is for a payment to be processed by the merchant, which gets to be a lengthy wait if someone is paying by cash, looking around for their wallet, needs a copy of their receipt etc.
Keeping these pain points in mind, some restaurants are opting to go cash free.
“Patrons of Sweetgreen are very particular about their salads. When the company recently removed bacon and sriracha from the menu, customers took to social media to complain. But after a handful of Sweetgreen restaurants stopped accepting cash in January, barely anyone noticed, according to the company’s owners.
Even Sweetgreen executives thought going cashless was “a harebrained idea” at first, said Jonathan Neman, a co-founder and co-chief executive of the company. “But we looked around and saw that airlines haven’t been taking cash for a while.” At Sweetgreen’s locations throughout the United States, cash purchases have declined to less than 10 percent today from 40 percent of all transactions when they opened their first location nine years ago, he said. Sweetgreen now has 48 locations.”
“One of the biggest complaints at Sweetgreen is the line, so by reducing cash we’re able to serve customers a lot faster,” Mr. Neman said. At the six Sweetgreen locations where cash is not accepted, employees can perform 5 to 15 percent more transactions an hour, he said.
In a cash-free environment, employees are also safer, Mr. Neman said. There have been only a handful of thefts and robberies since Sweetgreen has been in business, but he said he believed that going cashless deterred thieves. “I don’t think anyone’s coming in to steal arugula.”
The shift to a cash free, as well as a card free environment, is also taking place across North American campuses where the ability to order and pay for food through a mobile app is starting to replace traditional forms of payments like physical meal cards. Campuses are typically bombarded with long lines during lunch hour, and any solution that removes this pain point is one that both students and administrators alike welcome.