The fast food chain Subway has announced plans to sell sandwiches in unattended smart vending machines across the US.
The refrigerated machines are restocked every day with a selection of fresh sandwiches. An initial trial at the University of California, San Diego, was met with positive feedback from users. A nearby Subway franchisee provided the sandwiches, while students gave favourable reviews about the convenience of being able to grab a sandwich at any time.
The built-in AI capabilities and natural language processing allow customers to directly ask the machine questions about available products. Weight sensors inside ensure that customers are charged the correct amount. After a purchase is made, UV-C light sanitation is used to prevent germs spreading and help bolster customer confidence about the quality of the food.
The fridges build on Subway’s existing ‘Grab & Go’ initiative, launched in 2020. The company uses franchisee locations to prepare and distribute food to non-traditional locations including petrol stations, convenience stores, casinos and airports. The initiative has boosted sales by 13% compared to the previous year.
Demand for on-the-go food solutions is booming as consumers prioritise convenience. Food retailers should explore ways to get fresh food into unexpected locations to tap into underserved audiences. Think employees working night shifts, students on campus or office workers without access to a canteen.