Subway has renewed its focus on strategically growing its non-traditional business, including grab-and-go locations.
Along with expanding its brick-and-mortar presence in non-traditional locations, such as airports, college campuses, convenience stores and more, Subway is rolling out flexible, innovative platforms that give franchisees an opportunity to expand their portfolios and better serve their "on-the-go" guests.
"As more of our guests search for dining experiences to meet their 'in-the-moment' needs, the brand's non-traditional locations and platforms can serve them wherever and whenever they are craving Subway," said Taylor Bennett, vice president of non-traditional development at Subway. "As Subway focuses on strategic and profitable growth, there is a significant opportunity to expand our footprint in non-traditional locations and for franchisees to generate incremental revenue for their business."
In 2020, to meet consumer demand for quick, convenient food options, Subway began piloting its Subway Grab & Go platform, in which sandwiches are prepared fresh daily by franchisees and distributed to Subway Grab & Go retail locations, including casinos, convenience and gas stores, hospitals and airports. Now available in more than 400 locations across North America, Subway Grab & Go serves as the basis for several off-premises concepts, with plans for continued growth in the coming year.
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In September, Subway installed its first interactive, fully unattended smart fridge at the University of California San Diego, supported by Subway Grab & Go and stocked fresh daily by the franchisee's nearby restaurant location. Featuring artificial intelligence and natural language processing, guests can talk directly to the smart fridge and ask about any of the products inside. Weight-sensor shelves help ensure guests are charged correctly, resulting in a completely contactless and cashless transaction, and UV-C light sanitation after every purchase helps guests stay confident in the quality of their food.
Initial feedback on the smart fridge is extremely positive, with college students enjoying the convenience and ease of being able to get a sandwich at any time of day. Subway is already seeing strong interest across its system of franchisees interested in expanding their portfolios with smart fridges.
"Subway Grab & Go has quickly gained traction as consumers are drawn to sandwiches made fresh daily from a brand they know and love, versus competitor items that rely on a 14-day plus shelf life," said Karla Martinez, director of innovation for non-traditional development. "As Subway continues to expand off-premises concepts, guests can expect to find Subway Grab & Go and smart fridges in more convenient everyday places like airports, college campuses, and hospitals."