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The Name: Tossed

The Place: Around 26 units currently, including several in Dubai, and more than a handful located in Welcome Break stations around the UK.

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The Story: So, shall we begin our tour of a very successful salad provider with more than a decade’s experience in the very competitive business of healthy eating. From early failures like a foray into a Harrods convenience store to big successes like Westfield White City Tossed was one of the first in a market that was empty and is now crowded out with players like Leon, Abokado, and ITSU to name a few.

Yes great stuff, lettuce into the secret: I hope you aren’t going to use this as an opportunity to….

Go on, why did the tomato blush? I’m not even going to respond to your ridiculous…

Because it saw the salad dressing: There is actually more to Tossed and healthy eating than lettuce salads, you know.

I know. It’s just the tip of the iceberg: Right that is it. Don’t speak again. The founder Vincent McKevitt is doing some very interesting things around technology and payments right now as well as taking his concept to a whole new audience and that is what I am focusing on.

OK: Take the Welcome Break thing for example – the customers there are generally used to sub-standard food so now the London-based people walk in and say ‘Oooh, a Tossed, super’ and the non-Metropoles walk in and say ‘What’s all this healthy eating’ and give it a try so the take up has been very positive and more outlets are planned.

Uh- huh: The idea has always been to serve un-faddish good carbs, 5-a-day stuff – the average spend is around £5-6 in store, and 10% higher with the kiosks.

Kiosks? Later. But the best sellers are the Tossed Pots (warm rice or quinoa-based meals). The punters can’t get enough of them and growth on this line is 250% year-on-year. As McKevitt admits Tossed has always owned the salad end of things – but it is some of the hot food options where the massive growth is being enjoyed.

Do you make up your own food? Now that is the most sensible thing you have said all day. Yes, personalisation is the key to all – and it’s also the biggest problem too. The Tossed customer knows their own mind and the basic premise is that you choose your own base ingredients, premium ingredients, vegetables and finally dressing. Bingo.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that the customer does know their own mind until it gets to the counter and then the dithering sets in.

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Can’t choose between sweetcorn and sweet potato? Exactly. And they want to chat with the assistant on the best combinations and blah, blah, blah. Healthy eating competitor Pret doesn’t have this problem – you choose the sandwich, you pay, you go. Bish bash bosh. However, the cavalry has arrived for Tossed because after 18 months of development we have the Kiosk. Fanfare please.

What is it? It is a tablet effectively which takes the order direct from the customer and leaves all the Tossed employees to concentrate on the business of making the personalised salads as fast as possible. And hopefully speeding the whole thing up. In a new store in London on Coleman Street in the City there is a whole bank of kiosks. Therefore the conversation with the salad maker has been stripped out and replaced with ambassador staff at the front of the store helping customers with their ordering on the kiosks.

Whizzbang: Yes but even better than the kiosk is the click & collect option where your time-strapped office worker orders their salad online or via a new Tossed app and then collects it from the collection point in-store.

Whizzbang with bells on: Yes but even better than the click & collect option is the decision to go cashless.

Whizzbang with…. Wait, what? There is to be no money changing hands. It wastes time and time is money.

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But…but nothing: When you order it on the kiosk, the computer, the phone or the app you pay for it at the same time. All the staff labour has been redirected towards the production of food and away from the customer. There is no safe, or cashing up, or theft, or cash handling and the card charges are cheaper. It is a win-win.

Unless of course you don’t have a bank card: Yes, but in all honesty what is the chance of your average Tossed customer paying £6 for a salad lunch not having one.

OK, fair enough: I should make clear that all these changes will eventually come to all Tossed stores but at present they are being rolled out in a few mainly London-based stores. Soon each unit will have a minimum of 11 and a maximum of 22 ordering screens. McKevitt notes that the world has changed – there’s no money accepted on buses, Apple Pay is a thing and people are used to these innovations now. Actually the technology is not so different from that used by McDonald’s but their system was a bit too clunky for Tossed.

What about expansion plans? Ah well, the kiosks will make smaller sites possible as it removes the need for any tills so expect a few dinky ones in the pipeline but also expect openings further afield than London, which is oh so expensive. And there will be more international outlets – building on an expanding presence in Dubai. And then there’s the data.

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Aha, customer ordering data I presume: Correct, it could be used to refine their likes and filter them or possibly to upsell other protein products for example.

Shame they don’t deliver too: Well funny you should say that because they do, either via their own vans or Deliveroo (which incidentally McKevitt feels charges rather hefty fees). Despite that, delivery numbers are increasing exponentially. Even healthy people can’t be bothered to walk to pick up their lunch now!

Shocking: What are they scared of – a chicken seizure salad? Excuse me, was that a ….

I don’t think these people should be allowed to romaine customers any longer. This article is now finished.

PCMS is a global provider of IT software and services for the retail industry. PCMS offers a full-range of integrated commerce solutions across selling touch points and also provides turnkey managed services and cloud hosting. Its client list includes John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Whole Foods, as well as Walgreens in the US and fashion brands including Prada and Ferragamo across Europe.