How Cashier-Less Tech is Streamlining Foodservice

April 2024

How Cashier-Less Tech is Streamlining Foodservice

Technology continues to evolve the foodservice space, from mobile ordering apps to robot servers. Operators of healthcare and education food programs are embracing automated, cashier-less solutions that, with the help of sensors, cameras and deep learning tools, allow customers to leave with their food and beverages without physically checking out.


With Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology, introduced in 2016, customers entered a store using Amazon One, a credit or debit card, or an app. As they shopped, AI scanners or cameras took stock of the items they selected and added them to a virtual cart. Customers were “checked out” once they exited, making the grab-and-go concept more literal than ever.


True to the ever-changing nature of tech advancement, Amazon is already phasing out this Just Walk Out technology and replacing it with Amazon Dash Cart. With this new technology, the smart shopping carts are embedded with a scanner and screen, offering a more reliable method of automated shopping.


Let’s look at how these technologies are maximizing efficiency at operations in healthcare and education.


Helping Hospitals

Swift and seamless transactions in foodservice are all the rage, especially in high-stress environments like cafes or mini-markets in hospitals, where doctors need to grab food quickly to get back to patients. As an extension of the Just Walk Out concept, Amazon introduced a new badge pay program to hospitals across the nation. In hospitals, staff members can link their badges to their payroll accounts. When a customer selects items, their badge is scanned, and payment is deducted automatically from their payroll account, or they are billed later. This technology is now available at more than 120 third-party locations, including airports, stadiums, university campuses and healthcare locations.


Campus Convenience

Busy college students are often grabbing food items just before or in between classes, making long checkout lines especially frustrating. Grubhub rolled out the Just Walk Out technology at Loyola University of Maryland, where students scanned a QR code in the Grubhub app as they entered a campus market or café. The technology detected what they took from or returned to shelves and deducted payment automatically from their meal plans or other payment methods. The same technology has been used at the University of Pittsburgh, with AI and cameras that let guests enter the store with their credit cards, shop and leave without physically checking out. The university’s foodservice provider, Chartwells Higher Education, plans to launch over 100 more cashier-less concepts at more campuses across the country.


Tech Tests in K-12

In Fort Collins, Colorado, Poudre School District is using biometric finger scanning to reduce wait times in school cafeterias. The scan takes about two seconds to identify each student and their meal selection, then charges their account, or deducts from a meal plan. The school district hopes that the technology will help kids get and enjoy their food more quickly, without long lines and grumbling stomachs.


As the rate of technological advancement meets modern pain points, more foodservice professionals and companies are discovering ways to optimize the point-of-sale experience for all kinds of operations.


How would you incorporate this technology at your establishment? Share your thoughts on our Facebook or LinkedIn pages, and visit our Resource Center for more tips and trends.




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