Boosting retail coffee sales on campus

college student coffee sales
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From BUNN.

Building add-on sales is top of mind for any C&U operator, especially with high-margin products such as coffee. College and university foodservice retail sales total up to a whopping $16.7 billion every year, according to Technomic’s 2017 College & University report, and with a few small additions to coffee offerings, those numbers could climb even higher.

“Today’s college student doesn’t just drink coffee in the morning at breakfast,” says Karalynn McDermott, senior vice president of market development at Bunn-O-Matic Corporation. “They want coffee at all dayparts.”

According to Technomic’s College & University report, one of the most important attributes for food and beverage purchases is a convenient location—53% of students say so. By ensuring that students have options to purchase coffee outside of school cafeterias, colleges and universities may see an increase in sales.

But how can operators take coffee beyond the cafeteria to boost sales? By offering self-service retail options at remote locations on campus. 50% of students say that they’d be likely or very likely to use mobile payment or a credit/debit card, according to Technomic’s College & University report, which makes the foray into cashless coffee machines an easy one.

Additional technological innovations have made the dream of coffee being available anywhere a reality. The key to satisfying this urge, says McDermott, is a self-serve brewer, such as the BUNN Sure Immersion brewer, which can be left unattended at areas all around the campus so that students can get a cup of freshly brewed coffee whenever they want.

Offering greater variety

The Sure Immersion brewer is a bean-to-cup brewing machine with a cashless payment option. Hoppers hold whole-roasted premium coffee beans that are ground to order, and each cup is brewed to exact specifications at the touch of touchscreen.

“It’s a sensory experience: Customers see beans in the hopper, then hear them being ground, smell the coffee and know they are getting a perfectly brewed single cup of coffee,” says BUNN Product Manager Melissa Nichols. “This isn’t anything like the old coffee vending model; these are single-cup commercial brewers engineered to precisely extract quality blends and single-origin coffee that today’s customers are wanting in a premium on-demand experience.”

Recently launched, the newest Sure Immersion brewer offers both bean-to-cup coffees as well as two powder flavor options. “Operators can also offer hot chocolate, French vanilla or flavors like horchata or chai,” says Nichols.

Sure Immersion brewers are available in two- or three-hopper versions, allowing foodservice operators to offer a variety of coffees to satisfy java geeks. “Students want to explore coffee’s different origins and roasts,” notes McDermott. “They are more educated about coffee and willing to spend more for better coffee if they are given information about the beans.”

Incorporating technology

Consumers who want to know more about their coffee can get that information directly from the brewers’ full-color video graphic interfaces. There are two versions: one model with a 10-in. touchscreen and another with a 17-in. screen. Some videos offer detailed product descriptions, while others tell the stories behind the origins of the beans.

Operators can also customize the videos with their own content, offering information about the beans they are sourcing, or add logos, advertising and info about special deals.

Additionally, with the cashless payment option, students can pay for their coffee just about any way they please. The system accepts credit and debit cards and mobile pay methods, says McDermott—just swipe and go.

For retail installations without a cashier, Sure Immersion has a port in the back for hooking up to a printer, says Nichols. The system prints out a barcode with transaction data, which speeds up throughput at the checkout counter.

Labor savings with BUNN brewers

Labor savings with these types of setups are substantial. “Operators just have to fill the hoppers with beans and load filter paper,” notes BUNN Product Manager Matthew Gray. “Depending on volume, operators would just need to touch the machine once a day. With an optional through-counter chute, which empties used grounds and filters into a trashcan below, the unit is even more hands-off,” notes Gray.

Operators can also directly access trends in sales as well as service/maintenance data via the touchscreen in each machine. The data shows, according to Nichols, the items that are selling and those that aren’t, giving operators an opportunity to adjust offerings.

Alternatively, operators can opt for BUNNlink, a progressive, remote equipment monitoring system that is constantly monitored at BUNNserve, the company’s service division.  Maintenance and routine operational processes are coordinated with machine-to-machine (M2M) communication that enable remote monitoring & management for geographically disbursed equipment.  On-screen codes such as the need to refill the bean hopper are simultaneously displayed onsite as well as with the BUNN service team to ensure that machine is continuously operating.  Unexpected service events are kept to a minimum and therefore do not erode profitability for the operator.

For boosting coffee sales, implementing self-maintaining coffee machines that can take cashless payments is one part of the successful beverage menu formula. With Sure Immersion by BUNN, the other half of the formula is reality: offering a premium quality coffee that students are expecting and that generate repeat business at all dayparts.

To learn more about Sure Immersion, visit BUNN here.

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