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Campus card system vendor, Atrium, has teamed with retail technology vendor Zippin on a push designed to bring checkout-free meals, grocery shopping and retail to colleges and universities. The concept is similar to what Amazon is doing with its own grocery stores.

As grocery shopping becomes more automated across the country, Atrium, provider of mobile card management services to colleges and universities, plans to bring checkout-free retail to campuses.

They have teamed with Zippin, developer of the machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensor technology needed for checkout-free transactions, to deploy those systems to campus dining halls and retail operations.

Zippin founders have worked at Amazon and other to deploy similar technology. Amazon is by most accounts the leader of checkout-free grocery shopping, a cutting-edge area of commerce and technology that is receiving increased interest from investors, store operators and consumers — and now, through this new partnership, to campuses.

Beyond campus self-checkout

Unlike mere self-checkout – which requires shoppers to stop at unmanned but often supervised kiosks to complete transactions before leaving a store – checkout-free retail does away with that final step, ideally eliminating lines and waiting altogether, making shopping more efficient.

Such retail technology appeals especially to college students, says David McQuillin, co-founder and VP of sales for Atrium, in a recent interview with CampusIDNews. “Gen Z wants it. It’s what they expect. They want to use their mobile phone for everything.”

The concept that Atrium and Zippin are touting is simple enough, even though in practice it can present challenges. Campus administrators need to think about those potential hurdles sooner rather than later if they want to tap into this technology, which, McQuillian notes, could help them deal with a lack of workers.

Campus checkout process

Consumers using this particular technology could set up links with the platform via mobile phones. Zippin supports such payment options as credit and debit cards, and Apple Pay and Google Pay, though students would also be able to pay via their campus card accounts.

“Retailers with the technology would use overheard cameras to track shoppers and smart shelf sensors that detect when specific items are removed or returned,” explains McQuillin. “Together, the system builds a virtual cart for a shopper and does so without storing personal data, which would risk privacy breaches.”

“We see it working in a mixed retail environment, including ready-made foods and coffee with coffee machines, not just dry goods,” McQuillin says. The goal is to let shoppers leave the store as the transaction processes automatically.

Meal exchange challenge

The student who wants to eat a meal or purchase a product would set up their desired default payment type, and they could also use the system for meal exchanges, he says.

In fact, setting up those campus meal exchange programs as part of the checkout-free experience stands as perhaps the main challenge.

“There is a lot more to this than the typical integration of the mobile ordering experience,” he says. “Meal exchange is definitely the more complicated part of it.”

Atrium and Zippin — much like Amazon and other players in this space — know that the “cool factor,” as McQuillin put it, provides a big part of the appeal of this type of campus technology. But the ongoing struggle of many institutions to find and retain workers during the ongoing nationwide labor shortage also promises to help Atrium and its partner sell colleges and universities on this plan for checkout-free commerce.

“This has real advantages for those institutions,” says McQuillin.

Campus checkout installation

Affixing a cost to this technology is not easy and will vary according to the square footage of the space in question.

According to McQuillin, Zippin will provide the equipment and service, with installation left to the college or university, or its food service provider. Using this type of checkout-free technology on campus will also incur a recurring operational cost via a software-as-a-service model.

“So far, four or five campuses have come to us about the checkout-free technology,” says McQuillin. “They want to be first adopters.”

Though he would not reveal the names of the institutions, he did say that they include some the largest in the U.S. He expects to be production-ready in September, with a first checkout-free rollout in spring 2023.

Radius Networks and Apex Order Pickup Solutions have partnered to provide restaurants and retailers with a frictionless locker pickup experience. The partnership will integrate location technology to enable restaurants and retailers to place food orders in a locker at the optimal time to maximize food freshness and locker capacity.

Radius Networks is a leading enterprise location technology company, and its Flybuy SaaS platform is being used by restaurants, retailers, hospitality and grocers both in the US and abroad.

Radius' SaaS solutions are designed to help companies save time. The company's core platform, Flybuy, provides solutions for curbside and in-store pickup; contactless payments; drive-thru capability for mobile identification and offer redemption, table-side services for dine-in; same-day delivery; and proximity-triggered notifications.

Apex provides a suite of self-service, automated pickup solutions. The company's locker pickup solution is used in food service, retail and B2B e-commerce, as well as deployments in the higher education campus space.

The use of smart lockers for order pickup has become a particularly valuable alternative on college campuses, where increased dining flexibility has become a key request among students. Apex and Radius' Flybuy platform provides a fast and contactless customer experience, while also maximizing labor efficiency -- another emerging concern on college campuses.

The integration of the two companies will provides businesses with visibility into the entire customer or delivery driver’s journey as orders make their way to the store. This in turn will better enable operators to perfectly time order prep and loading to the locker to minimize order dwell and customer or driver wait times.

Flybuy Pickup location technology accurately predicts the arrival time of the customer, but it can be leveraged for a number of solutions, including:

“Flybuy allows crew members greater visibility to know when an order should be placed in the locker,” says Mike Rizzo, Chief Growth Officer at Apex Order Pickup Solutions.

“Customers are given information regarding their order throughout their journey to the store, as well as pickup instructions upon arrival," adds Rizzo. "The crew is aware of the customer’s exact location, can prepare and load orders into a locker to coincide with the customer’s arrival, without having to put labor against curbside delivery or managing the order handoff.”

When combined with the data from the smart locker, an operator has all the necessary data to optimize its off-premises business.

“Online ordering isn’t going anywhere; in fact, mobile ordering grew over 105% over the past year,” says Dan Estrada, Chief Strategy Officer at Radius Networks. “We’re thrilled to partner with Apex Order Pickup Solutions to ensure that restaurants and retailers can successfully add lockers as an additional pickup option as they navigate labor shortages, high off-premise order volume and delivery driver backup.”

The University of Denver campus community has been shopping a bit differently of late, with two new checkoutless stores on campus enabling visitors to walk in, select items and leave all without visiting a POS register to pay. The checkoutless store concept is being provided in part by food service provider Sodexo in partnership with AiFi, an artificial intelligence platform that enables autonomous shopping solutions.

According to a report from The Colorado Sun, the process is as simple as scanning a QR code on the app, grabbing what you want and walking out. The two autonomous grocery stores at the University of Denver are part of Sodexo's "eat>NOW" concept, and are the first checkoutless markets on college campuses in Colorado, and one of the first in the country.

Shoppers first scan the QR code that recognizes their account on the app, which connects to their University of Denver ID. The stores then use cameras on the ceiling to register the shopper as a 3D box moving around the store.

The camera system knows the location of items on the shelves and assigns anything a student picks up to their account. The cameras can determine whether an item is moved or set back down to ensure that so no charges are assessed unnecessarily.

When shoppers walk out, a charge will appear in their app with a detailed receipt. The company behind the initiative says that the stores cameras and app do not remember what shoppers look like or use facial recognition technology.

The most notable attempts at the checkoutless concept are perhaps from Amazon, whose unmanned locations use a combination of cameras and sensors to track shoppers as they move throughout the store. The Denver stores don’t require sensors or scales on the shelf because the cameras are pointed from multiple angles at the shelves and items.

“This technology actually supersedes some that’s been in the market for a while,” says Kevin Rettle, vice president at the university’s food services company, Sodexo. “It’s all by way of camera technology and AI that can calculate when something is removed.”

Tracy Williams, who manages dining at the University of Denver, told The Colorado Sun that interest has been high in the store concept. Williams has hosted visitors from other institutions across the country and held conference calls with interested parties in Australia.

The new storefronts on Denver's campus are converted spaces that previously operated as small dining halls. Now, the locations have been converted to the checkoutless convenience store concept.

The initial plan for the two dining spaces was simply to renovate the locations, but those plans were put on hold when Williams and his boss came across an article about AiFi, an artificial intelligence company that specializes in retail applications. Williams reached out to the company and was immediately contacted about moving forward.

Since the stores’ grand openings on April 6, the number of customers has risen 30% from the first three months of the year when the locations were still dining halls. The increase in volume has covered the cost of moving the stores and installing the technology.

No workers lost their jobs in the transition and Williams says the new store model takes more labor than before. "Staffers who used to work the register or stock the shelves now prepare meals in the kitchen that are shipped to each store," he says.

As for the human element to the shopping experience, the employees are still there to talk to students, they're just no longer needed for checkout.

CampusIDNews is presenting a free webinar event with NACCU, and transaction system vendor, TouchNet, to detail the sales and procurement process for campus card administrators. The talk will include campus experiences from the Colorado School of Mines and Emory University, as well as offer some insight on the sales process from both the vendor and industry association perspectives.

The "Navigating the sales and procurement process for campus card programs
webinar is scheduled for Monday, June 6 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The panel will include:

The intent for the discussion is to offer some best practices and advice for campus card administrators navigating new product or service procurement. With the growing emphasis on identity management on campus, understanding how to select campus card system and related component pieces can be challenging. It's also tricky to make the right choices that fit your existing environment to ensure the best fit and a smooth implementation.

To help make sense of the process, campus card leaders from the Colorado School of Mines and Emory University will share their lessons learned from identifying and purchasing new technologies for their respective programs. More than just the lessons learned, these card administrators will also identify some common pitfalls to avoid, and how their experiences are shaping their approach to procurement going forward.

Attendees will also learn ways to turn a vendor into a partner, encourage campus colleagues to lend their expertise, and ways to work within your institution’s procurement process to find the right solutions.

The discussion will highlight strategies and advice for bringing high level admins, student groups, and other campus stakeholders to the table -- a vital first step in any procurement process. Our university panelists will discuss their stakeholder groups, the process of getting everyone to the table, and offer some insight on who they've been able to rely on to help the process along.

The panelists will also discuss some of the various types of contracts used in the process, including RFP, RFQ, no-bid contracts, and more.

In addition to drawing from the campus and vendor perspectives, the panel will also include the perspective of industry body, NACCU. The Association has the unique ability to provide informative resources to its campus members -- including ways to navigate the RFP process -- while also fostering healthy relationships with the vendor community to better serve the card industry.

Register here for the free webinar.

In an entry to NACCU's Positive IDentity blog, Janice Weston, the Association's business manager, pens a farewell letter to the Association and its members. In the blog, Weston writes:

Where has the time gone? On May 18, thirteen years ago, I walked into the NACCU Phoenix office to begin a new job, with no idea what I was getting into or where I was headed. Some days I’m still like that. LOL.

I once read the quote: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”. So, I am expressing my gratitude, for the opportunities, friendships, mentors, trust, and everything else that has come my way in the past 13 years.

As I near the end of my tenure as the NACCU Business Manager, I reflect on many things. First of all, I must pay homage to the man who hired me, Lowell Adkins, who has since retired. He took a chance on someone he didn’t know, had no idea if I had any skills that would be of benefit to this association, and that I was someone who was the main caregiver of a mother with Alzheimer’s Disease, who required much care and occasional trips home to make sure she was safe and well. Fortunately, my house was only 3 miles from the office. He was a saint with patience, which allowed me to learn my job while caring for my mother. For that, I am eternally grateful.

In the years that passed, I learned many things about the card industry, and was able to assist in many factions of the business. I was content to be in the background, working quietly, while supporting others who were more familiar with running card offices, planning conferences, and so much more that goes on behind the scenes, to guarantee that the association continues to operate successfully.

When Lowell retired, my heart sank, because I imagined the NACCU office moving, and me having to either relocate or be out of a job that I loved. Little did I know that when we hired Dawn Thomas, our current Chief Executive Officer, that all our lives would change, and for the better in every way.

Although I am quite a bit older than Dawn, she has mentored me, nurtured me, and built my self-confidence, not only in the operations of an association and a campus card office, but in so many more ways. As I move on to the next phase of my life, and I decide what I want to do with my future, I am secure in the fact that I have found friendships that will last beyond the walls of NACCU. Any accomplishments that I have achieved while a part of NACCU will be added to my legacy of work skills that began at the age of 15, when I secured my first job.

I will be leaving my position in very capable hands, and I am confident that Crissy Sampier will be able to expand the knowledge and strength of this office beyond where I was able take it. So, in a few short weeks, I will be moving out, and Crissy will be moving ahead.

Best wishes to everyone, and if we should cross paths at some juncture down the road, I hope the contributions I have made, and the friendships found, will warrant a handshake or a warm hug. My experiences with NACCU and all if its members have been a life-changing event, and one that I will never forget.


 

Janice has been a dear friend of the publication down the years. Everyone here at CampusIDNews thanks Janice for her hard work, and wishes her a happy and prosperous retirement.

Boise State’s Student Financial Services has partnered with Transact Campus to enhance online payment services in the university's Student Central system. The agreement will take effect June 1, and will see Transact provide a secure means for students to make online payments for tuition and fees, housing, dining, health insurance, and more using credit card, ACH, or wire transfer.

According to an official university release, the agreement is expected to provide a streamlined user experience, with Transact offering a range of features.

Boise State students will be able to leverage a Stored Payment Data feature that removes the need for students and other payers to enter their bank account or credit card information every time that they make a payment. Instead, payment data can be stored in the Transact system for future use.

For international payments, student accounts are now integrated with Flywire Corporation through the Transact system. This enables students to perform real-time currency conversions and wire funds from anywhere in the world through their local bank.

For 529 payments, student accounts are also integrated with selected 529 companies through the Transact system, allowing students to perform real-time payments from their college savings plan.

The agreement will provide Boise State students with the option to enroll in payment plans for tuition and fees, along with the ability to schedule automatic payments.

Transact will also enable students to allow designated “payers” to have access to their accounts and make payments on their behalf.

At Boise State, payments made by eCheck or ACH will be assessed a $0.50 service fee. Credit card payments will continue to carry a 2.75% service fee for domestic credit card transactions and a 4.25% service fee for international credit card transactions.

Penn State University students amassed $30,000 in donations from unused meal dining dollars from their meal plans. The donations were accrued during Earth Week this past April, with Penn State students donating to Swipe Out Hunger through the university's Student Emergency Fund.

According to an official university release, all Penn State residential campuses participated in "Swipe Out Hunger" and coupled the event with Earth Week 2022. The event provided students with the option to donate excess dining dollars from their university meal plans any time they dined on campus.

Donations from PSU's University Park dining commons, HUB-Robeson Center dining locations, and Commonwealth Campuses came to $29,840, an increase from last year.

Penn State's Student Emergency Fund is a program that provides short-term financial assistance to students experiencing crisis. The fund is provided through the university's Student Care & Advocacy department.

Penn State also offers additional resources for students facing financial challenges and other basic needs through its Student Affairs website. 

Swipe Out Hunger is a nonprofit focused on combating college student hunger. The organization now works with some 435 colleges and universities nationwide to implement anti-hunger programs.

The group at Penn State that implemented Swipe Out Hunger includes a task force from Housing and Food Services, Student Affairs, and PSU students. Swipe Out Hunger also works with Lion's Pantry, a food pantry at PSU's flagship University Park campus.

Morehead State has produced an informative video detailing its EagleCard campus card. The video offers a great depiction of the capabilities of the student ID card and where students and staff can leverage the card around campus.

Morehead State's EagleCard office website states that the student ID is a multi-technology card, utilizing both magnetic stripe and smartcard capabilities. The MSU EagleCard is used as Morehead State's official photo identification card, and provides access to multiple campus services for students, faculty and staff.

The EagleCard has both a contactless flyBUY chip embedded into the ID and a magnetic strip on the back of the card. Both are used for functions on and off-campus.

Most locations leverage the flyBUY chip, but some locations can accept both as is the case in dining services locations and the university store. Locations that are specific to flyBUY include residence hall door access, select snack vending, and pay-for-print.

All students access their assigned residence hall using their EagleCard. The main entrance doors at all residence halls feature card access utilizing the contactless functionality.

Other locations utilize only the magnetic stripe, including the campus library, U.S. Bank, Pepsi Vending, and the off-campus BeakerBUCKs Program.

EagleCard access control functions are programmed and managed by the university's Office of Student Housing, and all replacement cards are activated by the Office of Student Housing after they are printed by the card office.

Gettysburg College is leveraging OrderAhead, TouchNet's mobile ordering app for campus dining services, to provide its campus community with a means to place food orders with their smartphone. The app is being used to help Gettysburg students plan out meals from on-campus eateries in advance, and add a layer of convenience to campus dining.

With TouchNet OrderAhead, students can browse available campus restaurants and menus, place mobile orders, pay with the student OneCard or standard credit card, and earn loyalty points. On the backend, OrderAhead can help campus administrators by offering more control over traffic and capacity at dining locations.

The platform can be used to help identify dining trends or analyze history to maximize staffing, supply orders, and menu planning. OrderAhead features include:

For the freshest possible food, Gettysburg suggests that its students plan to order no more than 20-30 minutes ahead of the desired pick-up time. Students with an active campus card can select between meal exchange and Gettysburg's Dining$ tender depending on the store they are ordering from.

Using OrderAhead

To use OrderAhead, students need to first download the app from either the iTunes Store or the Google Play Store. After opening the app, students can select Gettysburg College from the list of campuses, and log in with their campus credentials.

Once logged in, students scroll through menu items and add them to their cart. From there, they can checkout by selecting either a campus card or credit card.

Once you choose your payment method and pay, OrderAhead will provide a wait time for the order. Students receive an "Order Ready" notification when food is ready to be picked up. Students need to bring their phone with the provided QR code for their order to ensure they collect the correct food.

The OrderAhead service also features a rewards component. Gettysburg students will receive 1,000 points each for rating the app in their select app store, linking a payment card, or adding a profile picture, as well as earn 10 points for each dollar spent on every order.

Students can use their points to join contests or use the points to redeem rewards. Rewards at Gettysburg include coupons for free drinks, apparel, and other items.

Members of the Brown University community will be able to use a new virtual ID version of their Brown ID card beginning next fall, thanks to a partnership with transaction system provider, Atrium. The move to mobile will enable the campus community to pay with meal credits, points or Bear Bucks at dining halls, as well as access recreational facilities and campus shuttle services without a physical ID card.

According to an official university release, the new changes will be implemented over the coming summer months to improve the management of meal plans, and provide a convenient experience when making purchases with Bear Bucks funds. The move to a mobile ID will also support access a range of other services at Brown.

The initiative is being led by Brown Dining Services, the Brown Card Office and the Office of Information Technology, alongside transaction system provider, Atrium. Brown University will transition to a cloud-based platform provide by Atrium, with the flagship features including the new virtual Brown ID, and a Brown Dining Services mobile ordering system.

Once launched, the virtual Brown ID can be displayed on a mobile phone to access a range of services on campus without a physical ID card. Beginning in July, Brown students and staff will be able to:

Generate a virtual Brown ID to pay with meal credits, flex points or Bear Bucks at select dining locations:

Other campus services will continue to require a physical Brown ID card. These include entrance to Brown buildings that require card access, vending machine purchases and laundry.

A new, mobile responsive website will serve as a central place to generate a virtual Brown ID, add, cancel or change meal plans within prescribed timeframes, and add funds, view accounts and check transaction histories for meal plans, Bear Bucks and MyPrint.

Mobile ordering

In August, Brown Dining Services is planning a two-week beta test of its new mobile ordering platform that will accept a limited number of mobile orders daily at the Blue Room dining location. By September, campus officials expect to make mobile ordering available to all community members.

Accepted payment options for mobile ordering will include meal plan credits, flex points, Bear Bucks and credit cards.

The changes enabled by Browns new cloud-based platform from Atrium will be phased in from now through Fall 2022.

Also taking place over the summer, Brown will begin removing existing ValuePort kiosks from campus and adding four new kiosks that will enable access to Bear Bucks guest cards for campus visitors. The kiosks will be located in select on-campus residence halls, and enable students to add funds to Bear Bucks accounts via cash deposits.

Brown has also published a list of comprehensive FAQs to address any questions around the coming changes.

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