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Sweetgreen Goes Completely Cashless

Later this month, the fast-casual chain will no longer accept cash for payment, relying completely on plastic payments and digital ordering.
January 3, 2017

​NEW YORK – Fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen is making a bold move to go completely cashless in 2017, reports Business Insider.

Sweetgreen, which has roughly 60 locations in the Northeast and California, will soon accept payment only via its app or credit/debit card. Beginning January 18, all locations in New York, California, Illinois and Pennsylvania will stop accepting cash, while locations in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., will go cashless in March. Boston, where state laws require businesses to accept cash, will be exempt from the new policy.

The news source notes that Sweetgreen is one of the largest chains in the United States to abandon cash payments, but the company doesn’t believe the switch will affect too many customers: cash purchases make up less than 10% of Sweetgreen sales.

Going cashless "started with an imperative that we've always had at Sweetgreen: How do we simplify things?" Sweetgreen cofounder Jonathan Neman told Business Insider, noting that the company began testing its cashless theory at six locations in January 2016—and with success. Neman added that by cutting cash transactions, they could reduce theft/robbery, as well as speed up service by 10% because staff didn’t have to spend time counting money.

Sweetgreen also sees cashless as a way to enhance its online and mobile ordering. The news source notes that customers who rely on digital ordering make up 30% of the chain’s sales.

However, refusing cash does have its downsides. Business Insider notes that the biggest obstacle will be educating consumers on the new policy, and making sure employees are trained to communicate to cash-carrying customers why it will no longer be accepted as a viable payment option. Furthermore, about 7% of the U.S. population is bankless, meaning Sweetgreen could be viewed as refusing to serve this group of potential customers. Neman commented that Sweetgreen hopes to address this issue through community outreach, and exploring new store formats that fit different customers’ needs.

Other initiatives in the works at Sweetgreen include increasing online orders, launching an app that is more focused on engagement, and collecting data that allows for greater knowledge on everything from kitchen prep to customer preferences, notes the news source.