A payment step back for Sweetgreen and Amazon

Cash payment
07 May 2019

By the end of 2019, Sweetgreen will once again accept tangible money as payment throughout all its store in the Unites States. It had been three years since one of the most famous salad brands of the country accepted only app or card payments.

What happens

“Working without cash generated positive results, but also undesired ones as it excluded client who prefer or can only pay through physical cash”. This was stated by the brand on their blog as they provided explanations for this decision which was largely influenced by consumer pressure and the ever-growing city or state laws.

Massachusetts, New Jersey and Philadelphia are all states against credit cards as the only acceptable payment methods. San Francisco and New York are starting to lean towards that philosophy as well. Particularly, NYC communal consultant Ritchie Torres is going as far as proposing to ban stores which do not accept tangible cash as payment.

Consumer representatives cannot exclude Americans who do not have bank accounts and hence do not own debit or credit cards. Eight and half million families, representing roughly 6,5% of all families according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The statement from Sweetgreen on their blog continued to state: “We concluded that, despite cashless payments being full of advantages, it is not the right solution at the present to fulfil our mission. For this, everyone needs to have access to our food”.

Even Amazon has states that in their libraries or Amazon Go stores, cash payments will be accepted. There is no question about how this will happen, given the complete automation which characterises these locations.

The reasons to exclude cash

Various reasons pushed Sweetgreen to exclude cash from its payment options, such as reduced service times, preventing robberies and promoting sustainability, stated CEO Jonathan Neman in 2016.

When Sweetgreen opened in 2007, 40% of its transactions were in cash and eliminating these would have aided in making the management of their restaurants more efficient. Staff can execute a greater number of transactions per hour (from 5% to 15%), and client consumption time noticeably reduced.

Last December Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality (a group which includes restaurants in New York such as Martina, Daily Provisions and Caffe Marchio) defended the choice of cashless payments.

Aside from the given reasons (staff safety and faster service), for many consumers, cashless or app payments greatly reduce the probability of theft from staff members.