I pass Tossed, the salad bar, on my way to and from work every day. Until 6 months ago there was always a bit of a queue and, once a week or so, I’d join the end of it and enjoy the celebrity nickname I was given when they took my order and waited the 3 – 4 minutes to get my salad / protein pot / egg-based brekkie.
Occasionally, especially at lunch time, the queue was a bit too long and I’d cross the thoroughfare to Prêt for an over-priced soup. So, I wasn’t surprised when Tossed replaced their single till and nickname system with four computer screens that let you place your order directly and pick it up at the collection point, streamlining the service.
But over a time I noticed there wasn’t a queue any more, which made Tossed look less busy and counterintuitively (although predictably) less desirable.
Recently, we went on a reccy to find out, anecdotally, what has happened to sales in the time since Tossed replaced a human interaction with an artificial one. We chose a bad day: the screens had broken down, which had heavily affected sales. However, the consensus from the staff was that sales had suffered since they introduced the new system last August. According to them, certain groups of people definitely avoided it, especially older people who can’t use or don’t feel comfortable using the iPad.
When you understand humans, you understand that herd mentality is a powerful thing. Getting rid of the friction in the process – the queue - was Tossed’s main mistake. People gravitate towards people and, ‘I’ll have a bit of what they’re having’ overrides the rational part of our brain that is more concerned with time-saving.
More than that, in losing the smile elicited by responding to ‘Jean-Claude Van Damme!’ as you shuffle forward to collect your fish finger wrap, Tossed has lost what made it a human brand.