Subway taps into unattended Grab & Go automatic fridges

As part of sandwich chain Subway’s efforts to bring food closer to customers, the company in September installed its first interactive, unattended smart fridge at the University of California, San Diego.

The Milford, Connecticut-based brand said refrigerators are stocked daily by the franchisee’s neighboring restaurant.

The refrigerators feature artificial intelligence and language processing, so customers can talk to the device and ask about any of the products inside.

The weight sensor shelves ensure customers are charged correctly, the company said, and it’s a contactless, cashless transaction. It also uses UV-C light sanitization after every purchase.

The refrigerators are part of Subways’ efforts to expand into non-traditional locations.

“As more of our customers seek dining experiences to meet their ‘in-the-moment’ needs, the brand’s non-traditional locations and platforms can serve them wherever and whenever they crave Subway,” said Taylor Bennett, Vice President of Subway. non-traditional development, in a press release.

“As Subway focuses on strategic and profitable growth, there is significant opportunity to expand our footprint into non-traditional locations and for franchisees to generate additional revenue for their business,” Bennett said.

In the first three quarters of 2022, about 5,900 non-traditional locations in the United States and Canada saw an average increase of 13% in same-store sales, the company said, adding that those 5,900 locations represent about 25 % of Subway’s North American footprint.

Non-traditional locations include airports, truck stops, college campuses, convenience and gas stores, and hospitals, the company said.

Subway began piloting its Grab & Go platform in 2020. The sandwiches are prepared daily by franchisees and distributed to Subway Grab & Go outlets, including casinos, convenience and gas stations, hospitals and airports. The platform is now available in over 400 locations across North America.

The smart refrigerator since September has received positive feedback, the company said, and franchisees have expressed interest in expanding their portfolios.

“Subway Grab & Go has quickly grown in popularity as consumers are drawn to daily fresh sandwiches from a brand they know and love, over competing items that rely on a 14+ day shelf life. “, said Karla Martinez, director of the company. innovation for non-traditional development.

“As Subway continues to expand offsite concepts,” Martinez said, “customers can expect to find Subway Grab & Go and smart fridges in more convenient everyday locations like airports, college campuses and hospitals.”

Subway has over 37,000 restaurants in over 100 countries.

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