February 13, 2018

Future of packaging

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We’re on the eve of our first ever public release of the Clover App. I started dreaming about this back in 2009 when we built what might have been the world’s first cloud-based POS. Back then we had 1 food truck.

Over the past 18 months or so we have been beta testing an app. It’s been invite only, but even then we have almost 10% of our orders everyday going through the app. And now it’s time for a public release. We’re really excited. It’s been a big team effort.

We’re spending more time on packaging than anything else. Packaging. Who would have thought? I think we all think of an app as a technological feat. And it is. But it’s also an operational change. And it’s really challenging the way we package our food.

First, I’m having to face the difference between what I want our packaging to be and what it really is. For example, our restaurants are packaging most of our food to go. That wasn’t the design, and it’s not how I tend to think about our packaging, but it’s a reality. We don’t pack our fries consistently. We don’t use the same folding method in all of our restaurants. Some restaurants bag things for items, some don’t. Occasionally we provide condiments, sometimes we don’t. So I’m waking up to what is real here.

Second, I’m listening to what customers are telling us. More of you want to “take my food back to my office.” So that means compostable packaging isn’t what I’d imagined it to be. We’re also learning about other pain points with packaging.

All of this is leading us away from our initial take on packaging which was driven by a desire to have the lowest impact packaging possible (all compostable, very little material used, discourage waste). We’re overhauling our approach, going for something much more repeatable and consistent that will better support our restaurant staff and better support our customers.

If you order “for here” you’re actually going to get “for here,” it won’t be wrapped, even if you’re at CloverFIN. And if you order “to go” we’re going to actually wrap everything for you. We’ll include utensils and napkins. If the order is a single item it will have no bag. If it’s a larger order we’ll bag it for you. All “to go” orders will have stickers so you know it’s yours. All Clover App orders will be handled as “to go” orders (for now).

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