Campus Mobile Ordering: Engaging with Gen Z Students

Providing convenience and meeting student expectations
By: | Issue: June, 2019 | Web Seminar Digest
June 6, 2019

The next generation of students has a different set of expectations when it comes to their campus experience. Among these changing expectations is a preference for mobile ordering options for campus dining. Providing institution-branded mobile ordering can grow on-campus sales, increase student engagement and cater to the busy schedules of college students.

This web seminar discussed mobile ordering and how to implement it successfully on campus. Presenters also outlined how Santa Clara University in California has increased student engagement by implementing mobile ordering, their plans for influencing student behavior with loyalty and reward programs through the app, and some strategies for using mobile ordering at any institution.


John Diaz
Vice President, Retail Solutions Product Management

Chad Stith
Product Manager, Digital & Mobile Commerce

Nirmal Palliyaguru
Director, ACCESS Card Office and Property Management
Santa Clara University (Calif.)

John Diaz: We’ve held some focus groups with clients over the past couple of years to determine what the market needed, and we found that universities and colleges wanted to be able to address the needs of their students and the operators of their dining facilities and other locations around campus.

One of the big things was to improve student satisfaction. If you have happy students, you have happy alumni down the road. We want everybody to have a positive experience. We also want to make sure that faculty, staff and other folks on campus are happy as well. We want those folks to be engaged on campus.

Our clients also told us that they want to be able to brand any kind of interaction they do in their own way. They want to have the school’s name and color on it. They want it to be their service.

Increasing revenue is another important issue on campus—making sure that we’re offering things in a profitable way. Mobile ordering can give you that ability. It can help you speed up service. It can help you turn more orders with fewer cashiers and shorter lines.

The last part is that it’s important for clients to be able to manage that application in an easy way, and to get intelligent data back from it.

Chad Stith: Gen Zers are nearly one-quarter of the population now. They’re obviously active mobile users, spending nearly every waking hour online. Almost half of them are connected 10-plus hours per day and check social media up to 100 times per day. They are a more impactful generation than you might expect. They will represent about 40% of all consumers next year.

They have a very unique identity, place a real emphasis on value, and are concerned about privacy and security. They’re interested in badges that can be shared on social media. So you have to change your perspective of what might work for loyalty and incentive programs.

We’re thinking in terms of gamification, which is very powerful for incentivizing a consumer to use a loyalty and rewards program. It is important that this is part of mobile ordering, and the way that you implement it will also be very important. The way we’ve approached it in our mobile ordering application is through points. We assign points to locations and items, or even modifiers. We incentivize consumer behavior in ways that benefit our business. And this approach is also very engaging.

Nirmal Palliyaguru: Since our remodel, we’ve been completely kiosk-driven. There is no point of sale where a cashier is standing. 

The mobile app is kind of unique. We can customize it to our needs, and we can change those needs and the profile as we want. You place an order, and we have a clear and separate location for mobile order pickup. The app screen notifies the person by saying their order is ready, and simultaneously, the student gets a confirmation email. We have a scanner in front with a QR code that the student scans so that we know the order was picked up.

As a program administrator, the analytics are key. We get instant feedback from what is produced downstairs, from the ratings to what options were not available, and what did and didn’t work. That is instant feedback for us, so we can start tweaking our system to see how we can manage our students and the services we provide them.

We can make profiles of certain days. There can be Monday-Wednesday schedules, Tuesday-Thursday schedules, Friday schedules and Saturday schedules. This helps us understand the flow, student demands and how we can customize our services to meet growing needs.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit