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Micro-Markets in the Chicago Workplace

Micro-Markets in the Chicago Workplace

The office break room has seen many transformations over the years; however, one consistent presence has been the availability of refreshment options for the workforce.  Historically these refreshments consisted of pots of coffee and a variety of cold beverages and snacks sold through vending machines.  Many of today’s office break rooms in Chicago look quite a bit different with the introduction of micro-markets.

Micro-markets are essentially self-service convenience stores that are one of the fastest growing trends in the foodservice and retail industries.  Rather than being confined by what products are capable of being sold through vending machines, micro-markets combine temperature controlled open shelves with reach in coolers and glass door freezers allowing for a more diverse and fresher selection of items available for purchase.

When using traditional vending machines, consumers look through a piece of glass at the item they are interested in, but never get the opportunity to get a closer look at the product to see things like ingredients, serving size, etc. until they make the purchase.  With micro-markets, consumers can pick up freshly prepared food or a variety of different beverage options and look at the ingredients and nutritional information to see if they really want to purchase that item.  Once the consumer has decided what they want to purchase, they simply take the items to a self-service kiosk at the front of the micro-market, scan the barcodes of the items they are taking, present payment and walk away.

The explosion of micro-markets in the Chicago workplace can be directly tied to the increased demand by employees for more healthy and fresh food options in their break rooms.  In March of 2023, the World Economic Forum reported that 50% of Americans are actively trying to consume healthier foods.  Employers have embraced this demand for healthier food availability in their break rooms because they know there is a direct correlation between healthy eating habits and productivity in their workforce.

Many employees describe their Chicago workplace micro-market as a 24-hour convenience store as they can grab their favorite snack or beverage around the clock.  The micro-market can sustain those hours by utilizing self-service kiosks for checkout.  Employees love this as the kiosks accept all forms of cashless payments such as credit cards and mobile wallets.  As the workplace tends to be a closed-loop environment, many employers will utilize pre-paid employee cards as rewards that can be either physical cards or digitized.

When micro-markets first started appearing in Chicago offices, most thought they were best utilized in large office settings with anywhere from 150 to 500 workers.  Fresh foods typically have a much shorter shelf life than traditional vending snacks, so the theory at the time was that there would not be enough demand for micro-markets with under 150 employees and food would expire.  Today industry insiders have lowered the threshold to as few as 50 employees when weighed with other factors.

When looking to shake things up in an ageing break room, micro-markets can bring unparalleled levels of convenience to the workplace. Combining state-of-the-art kiosk technology with a wider selection of fresh, healthy foods, a micro-market in a Chicago office break room is sure to keep any workforce happy.