Avanti Micro-Markets: How to Use This Self-Service Technology

Sheigh Williamson

In the fall of 2019, Central Arizona College switched from using a catering service to using Avanti micro-markets. These micro-markets expand the variety of food available from sandwiches, soda, and burgers to salads, water and vegan cookies, as well as allow the cafes to be open longer. This would be beneficial to students who have evening classes and would like a quick snack.

These micro-markets are relatively easy to use. All you have to do is grab the item you want and scan it to see the price. If you decide that you want it, you can pay in three different ways. First, you can pay for it the way you would pay a vending machine – by using your credit or debit card or cash.  You also have the options to pay with a Market Card or with your fingerprint. The way you set that up is by picking up one of the Market Cards stored in a cup next to the payment station, scanning it, and then typing your name and email to register the card. Finally, after the card is registered and you are at the screen that allows you to put money on the account, there is a button in the top right corner titled “enroll fingerprint.” You then click on it and scan your index finger four times. Then you can upload money to your account through cash or card.

In an interview about Avanti micro-markets, Daniel Spott, Director of Dining Services, explained that CAC’s previous food service provider, A’viands (soon to be rebranded as Aladdin), still manages the dining operations at Signal Peak as well as oversees the micro-markets. He also said that the satellite campuses switched to the micro markets because “the college recognized that the budget for these satellite operations could only support dining services for a small portion of the day. This meant that students and staff did not have access to these cafes in the early morning or dinner hours. The micro-markets do not require staff, and meal service can be provided anytime the college is open, as well as offer an expanded selection of menu items.”

Spott also said that the reason CAC chose Avanti specifically is because “Avanti has a ten-year history of providing micro-markets at thousands of locations, including schools, universities, hospitals and corporate centers. With the technology to track stocking needs in real-time, a wide menu of available products, and the footprint and experience to anticipate trends and challenges, Avanti was the best solution to provide morning-to-night dining that includes hot entrees, fresh salads and sandwiches, and a wide variety of desserts and beverages.”

Talking with students, it’s clear that at least on Maricopa campus, micro-markets are not well liked. High prices are often listed as one reason. A student from Maricopa campus said, “Their markup on the products is a little much. I like the concept, but the execution was rusty because of the lack of plates and napkins, and they only supply forks.” Another student said, “I think it was a great idea during the time it was presented, but overall it’s too expensive and doesn’t really consider what’s in our pockets. I like that the times have changed for the café, but I’m not a fan of the Avanti Markets.” A student worker in Maricopa put out a comment box for Avanti Markets, and almost all the comments have been negative.

Prices most likely are not going to change; however, we can ask that either the micro-markets or CAC start to provide silverware and paper plates and that a flyer explaining how to properly use the machine is put up next to it. Hopefully, as we have more time to get used to the micro-markets, things will start to work more smoothly, and the comments will become positive.