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Macro Food Trends Driving Adoption of Unattended Retail

Unattended retail within the food space typically elicits visions of vending machines and coils that drop a sad, crinkled bag of chips to an underwhelmed consumer on the other side of the glass.

What Byte delivers is much different. Byte’s platform enables any retailer to deliver an experience similar to shopping at a store, but 100% unattended. A glass front merchandiser fridge has open shelving and a flexible format to sell freshly prepared salads, sandwiches, meals, and more. With the swipe of a credit card or app, consumers access the fridge and grab anything they wish. Once the door is closed, Byte’s technology knows what was removed and charges the customer accordingly.

Byte is witnessing first-hand several macro trends driving retailers, food service companies, vending operators and others to test new channels and adopt new technology — like Byte — to meet shifting consumer demand.

  1. Unprecedented demand for convenient access to fresh, grab ‘n go food. 
    Recent SPINS data shows that “fresh” is the number one purchase driver for Millennials and Gen Z. In addition, 55% of Millennials say convenience is a top driver when buying food. These two drivers require retailers to adopt an omni-channel approach, driving awareness and sales online, in-store and at-hand. At-hand represents an entirely new distribution channel that leverages Byte’s unattended retail platform to sell fresh food in non-traditional retail locations, including the workplace, hospitals and universities.
  2. Growing role of food at work. 
    Offering fresh meals at work is no longer a Bay Area phenomenon; it’s rapidly becoming table stakes to recruit and retain top talent. Fresh, healthy food impacts employee wellness and culture, but for most companies it’s not part of the company culture or budget. Catering is expensive and can cost businesses as much as $15 per employee, per meal, per day. That’s where Byte thrives — our platform allows a company to offer food onsite without having to purchase all of that food. We’re seeing partners in LA, Dallas, Nashville, Philadelphia, St. Louis and other major cities leverage Byte’s platform to create a new revenue channel, extend the reach of their products into the workplace, and support employers looking for an alternative to packaged snacks or expensive catering.
  3. Labor costs and shortages.
    Byte services several hundred fridges in the Bay Area and experiences first hand the pain of labor shortage for blue collar workers. Forbes recently highlighted the challenges businesses are facing and discusses how this will cause wage increases and the need for companies to hire more and look elsewhere. This is one of the drivers of increased interest in unattended retail.
  4. Amazon Go entering the space.
    Last year Amazon Go made a splash with the opening of their first, cashierless convenience stores. Shortly after launch day in Seattle, they announced plans to open 3000 storefronts by 2021. Under less fanfare, they rather quietly announced that they had started testing smaller footprint versions designed for commercial building lobbies. While grocers and retailers are already battling to compete with Amazon online and in-store, Amazon Go entering the workplace now has the attention of those in the food service and vending space.

The trends above will play a major role in the expansion of unattended retail in the food space, and Byte is well positioned to be the platform of choice.

To learn more about how the Byte platform can help transform your business, schedule a call with our sales team today:


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