Infographic: The Rise of Online Ordering

Here’s something you probably already know: the online ordering industry is booming. Here are some things you may not have known, though: 86% of consumers use off-premise services at least monthly, and food delivery in particular is expected to grow 12% year-over-year in the next five years. And last but not least, digital ordering and delivery has grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic!

If you’re looking to learn more about the online ordering industry as a whole, you’re at the right place. The below online ordering infographic explores the history of online ordering, industry key players and revenues, customer demographics, and more – including what point of sale features restaurants looking to jump into the growing industry should look for. Enjoy!

Click here to discover how Star teams up with 3B Apps to provide restaurants with an easy online ordering and payment solution.

Online Ordering Infographic:

Curious how Star can help you launch your own online ordering services? Contact us today!

How to Create an Amazing Return Policy

No matter what kind of business you operate, having a rock-solid return policy is of utmost importance. Whether you operate an online business or a brick-and-mortar – or both – having a strong return policy can save you a lot of headache (and money). Did you know that:

  • At least 30% of products ordered online are returned,
  • Nearly 9% of products purchased in a brick-and-mortar are returned,
  • And in one year alone, Americans returned $260 billion worth of merchandise to retailers!

The product is damaged. The wrong item was purchased. The merchandise is no longer wanted. The reasons customers request a return can be endless – but you can develop a return policy to handle it all. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you create an amazing return policy for your business:

What to Define in Your Policy

  • Receipt: You must define whether or not customers need a receipt in order to make a return. While this is optional, it is beneficial to require a receipt for myriad reasons: they enable you to verify the purchase came from your business, they help you accurately record the return in your books, and much more. Some different variations to include receipts in your policy include no returns without receipts, no exchanges without receipts, no-receipt returns will result in store credit, and more.
  • Identification: Next, decide whether you want to require customers to present ID upon returning products. Variations of identification policy could include ID is required with receipts, ID is required without a receipt, or ID is not required.
  • Payment type: When customers return an item, how will you refund them? Some choices include an exchange (return an item for a new item), cash refund, credit/debit card refund, or store credit.
  • Timing: Next up, it’s time to decide the required timing of the return. Can customers return items 14, 30, 60, or 90 days out? The choice is yours. Some businesses choose to vary the time range depending on product type (for example, clothing may be returned within 90 days, but makeup must be returned within 30 days).
  • Restrictions: Last but not least, what is the fine print of your policy? What items are not allowed to be returned, or “all sales final”? For example, sometimes businesses restrict returns on heavily discounted items and customized products.

Why Paper Receipts are Key

  • Easy for customers to retain: A digital receipt has its advantages, but when it comes to returns, nothing beats a good, old-fashioned paper receipt. Paper receipts can easily be kept in customers’ wallets, and avoids the frustrating, time-consuming process of sifting through emails looking for a receipt.
  • Can include more than just return information: Did you know you can include more on your receipt than just transaction and return information? With Star’s value-add PromoPRNT tool, you can easily include custom promotions directly on the bottom of receipts – and all from one central location!
  • Cut down on fraud: Here’s a shocking statistic for you: according to the National Retail Federation, a whopping 5% of returns are cases of return fraud (which costs U.S. retailers $9-17 billion per year)! Printing paper receipts – and requiring them for a return – is a sure-fire way to cut down on instances of return fraud in your store.

How to Manage Your Return Policy

  • Be consistent: To establish your policy, be sure to apply it to each and every customer. Also, to avoid surprises, it can be helpful to inform customers about your policy at the time of purchase.
  • Train your staff: Properly training your staff to handle different return scenarios can make the entire process smoother for both your business and your customers.
  • Display the policy: Be sure to prominently display your return policy near your register and on your receipts so that it’s constantly visible to both customers and employees.
  • E-commerce tips: If you operate an e-commerce store, check out these tips for an online return policy.

Star can help with more than just return policies – learn more now about how we provide simple mobile point of sale (mPOS) management.

The Bang Candy Store Gets a Sweet Deal from Cohub and Star Micronics

When Sarah Souther experienced a handmade marshmallow for the first time, it sparked a curiosity for the confectionary arts, and a desire to experiment with flavors. Soon after, she discovered an affinity for candy creation, and launched The Bang Candy Company, an artisan marshmallow company specializing in high-end sweets.

Now a popular and successful business, the shop prides itself in its ability to create decadent candies, syrups, and other treats, without the use of preservatives, stabilizers, and artificial ingredients. It now serves as both a confectionery production space and a café where customers can enjoy house-made goods while watching the candy creation process.

The Challenge

The Bang Candy Company has continuously experimented with flavors and creations, and has added a wide variety of new items to its inventory. With the growth the shop has experienced, it needed a way to streamline its inventory management.

The store is located in an area frequented by busy tourists, so inventory lookup and checkout processes both needed to be sped up. The Bang Candy Company has also been looking to implement pop-up shops around the holidays, which required additional registers, but the expense presented an obstacle.

The Solution

The Bang Candy Company chose to use an iPad-based POS system that allows for portability in order to
accommodate the flagship store, as well as any future pop-up shops. The iPad runs Cohub software, which features detailed, real-time inventory tracking and management, and provides an easy way to search for items and filter results. Cohub was also able to create an app for The Bang Candy Company, which enabled them to integrate the Star Micronics TSP100IIIBi receipt printer with their POS software.

The installation at the flagship store only required one system in order to suit The Bang Candy Company’s needs without exceeding the budget. In just a couple of hours, the system was installed and ready to use. Cohub trained the shop’s team on how to use the Cohub software and Star Micronics hardware. Because of the technology’s ease-of-use, training was fast and simple, and Cohub remained on-site the first day the software was rolled out.

Click here to download the full success story.

Why You Need a Cannabis Dispensary Printer

The legality of cannabis is on the rise – but just because medical and even recreational cannabis use may be legal in some areas, there are still laws that must be followed, such as consumers proving their cannabis was legally obtained, and dispensaries staying in compliance with advertising.

So, what’s the solution to staying legal during this ever-changing era of cannabis? Printers! Simply put, printers are critical for every cannabis dispensary – they help businesses and consumers alike stay safe. Here are two major reasons printers are a necessary component of cannabis dispensaries:

1. Printers Provide Proof of Legal Purchase

When it comes to cannabis, proof of legal purchase is key. For example, it is illegal in Canada to possess cannabis deemed illicit (or illegally produced, sold, or distributed) by the law, and guess what? All cannabis without a proof of purchase is assumed to be illicit! Furthermore, if you are found to be travelling with cannabis without a proof of purchase, you can face up to a $5,000 fine or a five-year prison sentence. In the United States, laws vary greatly by state and must also be carefully obeyed.

Simply put, proof of purchase is necessary – and there’s no better way for dispensaries to provide it than with a receipt printer. Receipts offer a quick, easy-to-carry way to show law enforcement proof of purchase. So, what should be included on a cannabis receipt? It varies by region, but common items to include are store name and address, product category/name, and the appropriate tax code/identifier. And when you choose a sleek, modern printer, lawfulness and elegance coexist to strengthen your brand.

2. Printers Can Deliver Cannabis Advertisements – Legally and Effectively

Speaking of what to include on a cannabis receipt, another valuable piece of information you can provide with your cannabis dispensary printer is an advertisement – directly on your receipts!

Everyone within a dispensary must be an adult, so when you print promotions from your dispensary printer, you’re automatically advertising legally and to the right people. Did you know that:

  • In California, at least 71.6% of cannabis advertisement audiences must be 21 years or older,
  • In Colorado, at least 70% of the audience must be over 21,
  • And in Oregon, each advertisement must include the statement, “For use only be adults age twenty-one years of age and older.”

On top of offering advertising capabilities that help you avoid the headache, expense and reputation damage caused by a lawsuit, your cannabis dispensary printer can also automatically deliver ads to an ideal (and legal) target audience.

Think about it: by printing promotions on a sales receipt, you’re delivering your ads directly into the hands of someone who is already shopping in your store and interested in your product. Marketing delivered on a slip of paper that, legally, consumers must keep close to them – what better way to create sticky customers?

If you’re looking for ideas on what to promote on your cannabis receipt, here are some ideas:

  • Featured strains/strain of the week
  • Strains that are coming soon
  • Discounts/sales
  • Links to your social media accounts
  • Store hours
  • Store merchandise
  • Now hiring messaging
  • Customer testimonials
  • Featured FAQ

Remaining in compliance and effectively advertising go hand-in-hand when you implement the right cannabis point of sale (POS) solution and printer. Looking to build out a cannabis dispensary POS solution? Discover how Star Micronics delivers modern, sophisticated looks, and all the features you need to legally cash in on cannabis.

5 Futuristic Ways to Order Online

Ah, online ordering. Who doesn’t love it? Online ordering makes the ordering process easier, improves order accuracy, keeps costs transparent, and more. And the public agrees: a whopping 86% of consumers report using online ordering services at least monthly, and a third are using it more than they did a year ago.

One of the biggest segments of online ordering is food delivery, which is expected to grow 12% each year, for the next five years (and beyond, we’re sure). In such a booming industry (online food delivery alone is expected to be a $137 billion market by 2023), it comes as no surprise that new ways to order on the web are popping up left and right. Let’s explore five futuristic ways to order online – that are already happening.

1. Order by Tweet

Did you know that on top of catching up on your daily news and memes, you can also order a pizza on Twitter? Domino’s Pizza allows customers to make a “pizza profile” on its online delivery service, create an “Easy Order” (which is like a pizza speed dial), link the pizza profile to their Twitter account, and order simply by tweeting a pizza emoji to Dominos’ Twitter account. Dominos also allows customers to order via Google Home, Alexa, Slack, Facebook Messenger, and more. Ordering via social networks is an interesting thing, and there is certainly already a market for social media-driven online ordering.

2. Order Through Virtual Assistant

You can ask Alexa for the forecast, to play your favorite song … or to order your lunch. Companies such as Just Eat, which has 24 million customers across the globe, are using virtual assistant technology to further modernize and personalize the food ordering process.

Per Storm Fagan, head of product at Just Eat, “It’s as simple as having a conversation with your partner and you’re talking about what takeaway to order of an evening and, as natural as that conversation is, a voice assistant like Amazon Alexa will join in with your conversation. It will know how many people are in your home and what sort of food you like, and they can start recommending food options to you. Rather than us having to go to a website, it’s almost as if Just Eat will exist in your home with you.”

3. Order via Smartwatch

Smartwatches are no longer just for early adopters: in 2018 alone, 141 million of them were sold. With such a big adoption comes another wave of innovation and new features. One example of this is OrderUp/GrubHub, which allows a customer to place an order, track delivery status, and check estimated time of arrival, all through their watch. Expect to hear more about smartwatch functionality in the near future – the market is expected to grow to $73 billion by 2022.

4. Order from Car

Cars aren’t just for driving you to places where you can buy things – now you can buy things directly through your car! Take General Motors, for example. The automaker has launched GM Marketplace in millions of its cars, providing car owners the option to order food and beverages from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wingstop and more – all through the press of a button. Because the vehicles that feature GM Marketplace also have Wi-Fi connectivity, when drivers place an order through their car, it automatically will locate the nearest store and direct the driver how to get there. Although the service is predominantly foodservice-based, GM says there’s a huge potential for retailers to cash in on orders placed through cars.

5. Order with Eyes

Perhaps the most far fetched-sounding method of them all, believe it or not, you can order with your eyeballs. In conjunction with Tobii Technology, Pizza Hut developed Subconscious Menu, which tracks customer eye movement, and suggests pizza ingredients based on what a customer’s eyes focused on. Creepy? A little bit. Efficient? You betcha: the menu can suggest just the right pie for you, out of nearly 5,000 combinations, in 2.5 seconds.

Is your restaurant ready for the growing online ordering trend? Find out now! 

Delivery Robots: Coming Soon to a Sidewalk Near You

As futuristic as they might sound, delivery robots are here and they are flourishing. Since more than 60% of a merchant’s customers live within three miles of one of their stores, delivery robots are a great way for restaurants, retailers, pharmacies, and more to complete deliveries.

In 2018, the U.S. delivery robot market was worth $11.9 billion, and it’s predicted that it’ll be worth a whopping $34 billion by 2024. A big reason for that is online shopping: between 2016 and 2017, U.S. online retail sales jumped 16%. And we can’t forget robotic food and beverage delivery, which has already been adopted at university and corporate campuses across the world.

So, are delivery robots really that beneficial? And who’s using them? Let’s take a look at some of today’s top delivery robots and the impact they’re having.

Who is Using Delivery Robots?

  • FedEx: FedEx recently announced that its autonomous home delivery robot, the FedEx SameDay Bot, is under development. The FedEx SameDay Bot is designed to operate all by itself, using sensors and artificial intelligence to make same-day and last-mile deliveries via optimal routes. Recently on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the bot even successfully navigated sand, rocks, and water. The bot is being tested this summer in Memphis, and will make deliveries for AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart.
  • Amazon: It probably comes as no surprise that this January, Amazon, one of the world’s most innovative companies, unveiled its own tiny autonomic delivery device, Scout. The size of a small cooler and featuring six wheels, Scout currently delivers Amazon packages to a neighborhood in Washington. Amazon also recently patented a retrieval robot that would remain inside a consumer’s home and autonomously fetch deliveries from a nearby delivery truck.
  • Postmates: Postmates delivers orders from more than 350,000 restaurants, retail shops, grocers, and more, and recently rolled out Serve, arguably the world’s most adorable delivery robot. Serve can carry up to 50 pounds of product and can deliver items within a 30-mile radius, all on a single charge. The cute bot even features dynamic light-up eyes, which communicate when Serve is changing direction or performing specific tasks. Serve will first launch in the Los Angeles area, and is slated to hit other U.S. cities this year.

Benefits of Delivery Robots

  • Fast: In this day and age, there is a true need for speed. More and more of today’s consumers expect deliveries to reach their front door (or office desk) within the same day, or even hour. Traditionally, the last leg of the delivery is incredibly inefficient; as Henry Harris-Burland, an executive at delivery robot company Starship, said: “Think about vans stopping and starting 150 times outside of 150 houses in one neighborhood. It’s an incredibly large waste of time.” Delivery robots help speed up deliveries by increasing efficiency in the last couple of miles from a store to the delivery location – cruising at about 4 miles-per-hour, bots can deliver within 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Space Efficient: Trucks, bicycles, and scooters typically complete the final leg of the delivery process, dangerously crowding city streets. In fact, a Mobility Lab and George Mason University study found that 73% of freight and delivery vehicles in Arlington, VA were parked in unauthorized areas, blocking things like bike lanes, fire hydrants, and crosswalks. By sticking to sidewalks, delivery robots help combat congestion and keep emergency paths clear.
  • Money-Saving: On top of speeding up the store-to-home process, delivery robots can also save companies money – lots of it. According to a 2018 McKinsey & Company report, delivery robots could help reduce last-mile delivery costs by as much as 40%! Although delivery robots can cost a lot to manufacture, in the long run they could save companies billions.

Now on to the fun stuff … let’s see some delivery robots in action:

We’re excited to see what the future has in store for delivery robots!

Infographic: Benefits of EMV Compliance

EMV: we’ve all heard of it, but what exactly does it mean and how does it work? Even more important, what are the benefits of EMV compliance, for both merchants and consumers?

Europay, Mastercard and Visa, or EMV for short, is global standard for payment cards equipped with computer chips and technology that enable a business’s POS system to authenticate a transaction. Thanks to the EMV standardization, chip cards work worldwide at any payment terminal capable of processing chips.

Designed to protect consumers and reduce costly fraudulent purchases, EMV has been in existence since 1994, but didn’t make major waves in the United States until October 2015, when a new set of compliance rules hit the nation. According to the new rules, American businesses that do not process EMV (and still process transactions via magnetic strip) will be held responsible for any fraudulent charges made at their location.

Any way you cut it, EMV compliance is important, but what benefits does it hold? Read on to discover the many ways EMV compliance is helpful to both businesses and consumers.

EMV Credit Card Processing

Benefits of EMV Compliance Guide created by BluePay

Looking to upgrade your POS system? Check out the Star Micronics Ultimate Guide to Building Your iOS POS System.

5 Reasons Why Shoppers Still Prefer Brick-and-Mortar

The constant evolution of e-commerce provides a hybrid of digital and physical purchasing possibilities to customers. While the appeal of an online market is steadily increasing, consumers still cannot resist the social experiences and certain advantages that brick-and-mortar is able to provide. Among the many irreplaceable elements of the in-store shopping experience that cannot be replicated online, here are the top five reasons why shoppers still rely on – and prefer – brick-and-mortar retailers.

1. Personalized Shopping Experience

With all of the advancements that online shopping provides, it still cannot compete with the personalized in-store shopping experience that’s found at brick-and-mortar stores – and that customers crave. Walking up and down the aisles, listening to the music, taking the time to browse and linger; there’s just no way the web can parallel such an immersive experience.

It’s this sort of engagement and excitement that continuously attracts shoppers to brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, according to Retail Touch Points, during the 2018 holiday season 96% of consumers did at least some of their shopping in-store, thanks to the ambiance and festive decor found in physical stores.

In addition to a store’s ambiance, physical stores also attract (and retain) customers through hosting events and classes – something an online store just can’t do. Some examples of events held in retail stores are product launch parties, book signings, holiday parties, charity events, and various classes for cooking, crafting, DIY home projects, and more. And don’t be mistaken, just because events are held in person doesn’t mean they can’t feature the convenience of the digital world. It’s easy for customers to securely pay registration fees and obtain event tickets online, using tools like Star Micronics’ partner Authorize.Net to provide a simplified payment process.

Simply put, brick-and-mortar stores offer a level of customer service and personalized experience that online shopping simply can’t duplicate, making one thing clear: the need for physical stores is here to stay.

2. Ability to Preview Products In-Person – Before Purchase Commitment

One of the biggest advantages that brick-and-mortar stores have is the ability for consumers to inspect products before buying them. Getting a feel for the material, verifying the quality, and testing the product before committing to it is a surefire way to avoid surprises that can be caused by misleading online information and pictures. A recent TimeTrade report showed that as many as 87% of modern consumers want to see and experience a product prior to “taking the plunge.”

Who can blame them? Shoppers value seeing goods in person because it helps avoid inaccurate sizing, malfunctioning equipment, and product scams. Even with an abundance of high-quality photos and videos available online, there’s still nothing like seeing a product with your own eyes and touching it with your own hands, which is why consumers still travel to physical stores to get the most bang for their buck.

3. Quick, Hassle-Free Returns

Even with the alluring ability to inspect products before purchasing, there’s always a possibility that customers may need to return an item. But there’s no question about it, the return policies available at brick-and-mortar stores offer a more simplistic and engaging process than their online counterparts. With just one quick stop, shoppers are able to verbally discuss their returns, ask questions, learn about new deals, and possibly even negotiate the return policy terms.

Brick-and-mortar returns are a clear winner for customers seeking an urgent solution – they can replace the item right then and there, with no shipping costs, no deadline stress, and certainly no waiting. While online platforms consistently update return policies to better enhance customer service, brick-and-mortar stores continue to have benefits up their sleeves that makes in-store returns simply irresistible.

4. Easy, Quick and Detailed Customer Service

It’s undeniable that face-to-face customer service continues to reign supreme, even with the rise of modern online customer service tools. The interactive service offered at brick-and-mortar stores helps shoppers locate products in the store, get second opinions, and more. This sort of personalized expertise and knowledge is highly favored because it provides consumers with a level of interaction that can only happen in-person, as well as answers that even the web might not have (yes, that skirt matches that blouse).

A recent Retail CX Trends study showed that 30% of consumers claim that personalized treatment is what elevates an experience and makes them feel special. The ability for brick-and-mortar stores to offer consistent service that is tailored to the customers’ specific needs and situations ultimately saves the consumer time and improves their overall shopping experience. You just can’t find that level of customized, instant attention online.

5. Ability to Take Items Home Immediately

Even if an online store offers two-day or same-day delivery, no form of expedited shipping can compare to the delivery speed experienced at physical stores. When consumers choose a brick-and-mortar store, they don’t need to worry about waiting, handling fees, or damaged and lost packages. Only physical stores are able to offer the satisfaction of immediately bringing an item (that you know is correct and in satisfactory shape) home.

Today’s shoppers have spoken and they want their purchases now. A recent Retail Dive survey shows that 49% of consumers choose brick-and-mortar stores over the web because they like to take home items immediately. Just one swipe of a credit card unlocks the instant use of your latest buy – the perfect option for the impulse buyer or last-minute shopper in all of us.

Looking to empower your retail staff, save space, reduce your checkout lines, and enable fast and secure transactions? Click here to learn 5 Ways Ergonomic mPOS Solutions for Larger Retailers Increase Sales and Boost Customer Satisfaction!

5 Ways to Incorporate the Internet of Things into Your Store

The Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer just a buzzword – it’s a living, breathing technology that’s making a splash in retail stores around the world. By 2020, it’s estimated that there will be over 30 billion IoT devices!

IoT offers great benefits to the retail industry. In fact, 77% of retailers believe it improves the customer experience, 89% report that it provides increased insights into customer preferences, and 77% say that it helps them work with partners to deliver quality products and services.

How will IoT devices impact stores’ bottom lines? By reducing inventory error, optimizing supply chain management, and decreasing labor costs, it’s estimated that the potential economic impact of IoT in retail environments will range from $410 billion to $1.2 trillion per year by 2025!

So, how can you take advantage of IoT? Below are five ways to incorporate this new wave into your store.

1. Personalized Discounts

Did you know that nearly half of consumers are willing to share their personal data in exchange for exclusive benefits? One of the biggest benefits shoppers are looking to receive is personalized promotions. By installing connected sensors around your store, you can send loyalty discounts to customers when they stand near certain products.

You can also use IoT to track what items a customer has looked at online, and then give them a personalized discount on that specific item when they visit your physical store. Another great way to use customer data to promote sales is through Star Micronics PromoPRNT, a value-add program that works with your existing receipt printer to deliver promotions directly on printed receipts.

2. Smart Shelves

Smart Shelving in a Kroger Store. (Source: Microsoft News)

Soon retail shelves as we know it will be completely different, thanks to smart shelves. This next-generation shelving includes electronic labels, personalized advertisements, RFID technology, and IoT sensors. One popular use case for smart shelves is supermarkets – grocery retailers are expected to increasingly use smart shelves to quickly update product prices, as well as display promotions, nutritional data, coupons, videos, and more.

Smart shelves can also interact with apps on a customer’s phone and do things like show shoppers where to find all the items on their grocery list, and enable each item to be scanned by a robotic checkout.

3. Beacons

Beacons – or small wireless sensors that can be attached virtually anywhere – work with customers’ smartphones to collect locational and contextual data (if they have downloaded your app). These sensors can be used to track shoppers when they’re in your store and send them personalized content, coupons, and more. In the age of online shopping, this level of exclusive, tailored content is just what stores need to keep drawing customers into their brick and mortar establishment.

The truth of beacon success is in the numbers: approximately 75% of shoppers provided with beacon content say it increased their chances of making a purchase, and over 60% said they’re willing to spend more money on holiday shopping at brick-and-mortar stores if they’re sent special offers.

4. Digital Signage

An Example of Digital Signage. (Source: Sophatar)

Any way you cut it, digital signage is huge in both helping boost a store’s attractiveness, as well as pushing data-driven content to strategically targeted customers. Digital signage can truly unify your IoT efforts by collecting customer data from beacons, sensors, and smart devices, and then display commercials, product information, and personalized promotions – at just the right time.

Curious how big of a market digital signage is? Hint: huge. The global market value for digital signage is expecting to grow to $32.84 billion by 2023! If you’re looking to make the most of your digital signage, consider using a tool such as Sales Receipt Viewer & Analytics. The tool provides web-based receipt data and allows you to download digital receipts, analyze sales trends, discover sales anomalies, and more.

5. Supply Chain Management

Simply put, IoT is redefining supply chain management across the globe. Here are three examples:

  • Asset Tracking: RFID and GPS sensors can track products from factory to store. This not only makes asset tracking much easier, but it can also provide important information such as what temperature a product was kept at and how long it took to sell.
  • Inventory: Using IoT sensors, retailers can instantly check inventory levels and proactively receive alerts when a product’s inventory is low. The sensors are also very helpful in tracking purchasing trends, making inventory management a more efficient process.
  • Maintenance: IoT sensors can also be placed on manufacturing equipment to keep on top of scheduled maintenance, preventing expensive and untimely break-downs.

Did you know that valuable connected data can be provided by your receipt printer? Learn more about how to boost your business with Star Micronics Cloud Services!

8 of the Coolest Food Halls in America

Say hello to food halls, the food court’s trendy, eclectic cousin. A food hall is defined as “a commercial space with communal seating populated by a variety of curated, high-quality local food purveyors.” Run by entrepreneurs, celebrity chefs, and creative next-generation cooks, these food bazaars are immensely growing in popularity. In 2010, there were just 25 American food halls, but by 2020, it’s estimated that 300 will call the United States home. Before we explore eight of the coolest food halls in America, let’s quickly review some food hall features:

  • They’re Everywhere – and for Everyone: Realty-wise, food halls are popular among mall operators and real estate developers who see them as part of an experiential retail strategy. While some food halls are owned by the city and some are privately owned, they’re becoming a key feature in commercial, residential, and mixed-use buildings. On the consumer side of things, those who enjoy dining out – and eating authentic, delicious dishes – are an ideal food hall customer (in other words, almost everyone!).
  • They’re Cost-Efficient and Successful: Startup costs for restaurants are huge and a hard pill for many to swallow (it takes an average of $250,000 to open one). For many entrepreneurs, food halls are a far less risky, month-to-month rental option. Although the cost per square foot may be higher in a food hall than a standalone location, entrepreneurs get the added benefit of more foot traffic, a shared economy with other restaurants, and an aggregated social media following from the food hall – all which boils down to a better chance at succeeding. And the success of food halls certainly shows in the numbers: out of over 100 halls that have opened in America, only three have failed.
  • They’re Playing a Part in Urban Renewal: Food halls aren’t just good for restaurateurs – they’re great for their respective communities, too. In fact, they’re becoming a key element in revitalizing inner-city areas. One prime example of this is the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, which accepts more food stamps than any other place in the city. Food halls are also being planned for smaller urban areas like Plano, Texas, Greenville, South Carolina, and Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • They’re Experiential: From incubation kitchens and event spaces to live music and art installations, food halls are the definition of experiential. When it comes to theme, some food halls share one theme (for example, one entire hall is French -themed). On the other hand, some contain a large, diverse variety of food and beverages to choose from. There’s a food hall for everyone!

Now on to the fun stuff – let’s take a look at eight of the coolest food halls in the U.S. (in no particular order).

1. Midtown Global Market – Minneapolis, Minnesota

“An Internationally-Themed Public Market with Great Food, Cultural Experiences and Unique Gifts”

Source: Eater.com

  • Opened in 2006 with the backing of four non-profits
  • 50+ shops, stalls and purveyors of international cuisines
  • Interesting Features: Indian burritos, camel burgers, cooking classes, live music, indoor farmers market

2. Eden Center – Falls Church, Virginia

“Washington DC’s Premier Destination for Vietnamese Cuisine and Specialties”

A Year of Dog Celebration at Eden House. (Source: Falls Church News Press)

  • Houses the highest concentration of Vietnamese-owned businesses in America
  • 100+ shops
  • Interesting Features: authentic pho, fried tofu bites, caramelized freshwater prawns, various cultural events

3. Ponce City Market – Atlanta, Georgia

“A Vibrant Community Hub Housing the Central Food Hall, Various Shops, Flats and Offices, All While Pointing Back to the Roots of its Inception”

Source: Eater.com

  • Located in the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building
  • Interesting Features: Crispy fish sandwich (with a different fish each day), edible cookie dough shop, old-fashioned candy store, carnival amusements and refreshments

4. East End Market – Orlando, Florida

“Central Florida’s Food and Culture Hub”

Source: Yelp

  • Showcases Central Florida’s top food entrepreneurs, tradespeople, artists and chefs
  • Home to 12 merchants, an event space, a demonstration kitchen, an incubator kitchen, offices, retail shops, a caterer, and a full-service restaurant
  • Interesting Features: food business startup classes, customizable cooking classes, in-house meal delivery service

5. St. Roch Market – New Orleans, Louisiana

“A Destination for the Culinarily Curious”

Source: St. Roch Market

  • Located in an 1800s farmers market
  • Home to 11 dining options, centered around an award-winning craft cocktail bar
  • Interesting Features: Haitian street food, Vietnamese street food, after-dark game nights

6. 1-800-LUCKY – Miami, Florida

“A 10,000-Square-Foot Food Hall in the Style of a Hip, Asian Market with Indoor and Outdoor Seating and a Booming Soundtrack of Hip Hop”

Taiyaki Ice Cream at 1-800-LUCKY. (Source: Yelp)

  • Industrial setting
  • Home to seven restaurants, two bars, a karaoke room, and a convenience store/record shop
  • Interesting Features: Chinese BBQ, poke bowls, taiyaki (fish-shaped cake), dim sum, cultural parties

7. Shirokiya Japan Village Walk – Honolulu, Hawaii

“A ‘Theme Park Village’ in the Image of Monzen-Machi, a Town Built Adjacent to Shrines and Temples with the Guardian Spirits Sanctuary at its Core”

Source: Yelp

  • Sprawling food hall with an array of Japanese dishes, a French restaurant, and an indoor beer garden
  • Interesting Features: a soft service ice cream shop from Harajuku, a café specialized in siphon coffee, a spirit sanctuary, a radio studio

8. The Barn – Lexington, Kentucky

“Kentucky’s First and Finest Artisan Food Hall—Bringing the Best of Lexington’s Culinary Scene to the Heart of The Summit at Fritz Farm”

Source: Yelp

  • All local, all independent lineup of restauranteurs
  • Interesting Features: craft ice cream, a superhero-themed ramen shop, whiskey bar

Whether or not your restaurant is located in a food hall, the Star Micronics mCollection can modernize your space – learn more now.