Marketplace ordering goes from “on-line” to online

Digital options come to vendors in effort cut wait times in the Union

As a new school year begins, thousands of students in the Marketplace and dining halls spend much of their time waiting to place orders, waiting for their food to be prepared and waiting to pay for their meal.

Franz Lino/Photo Editor Rafi Chesler, a senior majoring in math and physics; Andrew Horowitz, a senior majoring in marketing; and Ilan Kokotek, a senior majoring in biology; place an order in the Marketplace. Starting this semester, an online system for placing orders is available to students for no additional charge.

With a new online ordering system, though, the waits may be cut.

Starting this semester, online ordering is available at NY Deli, The Diner and Pandini’s in the University Union Marketplace. Students, faculty and visitors can order up to 36 hours ahead of time and pick an exact time to get their food.

According to Casey Slocum, Dining Services marketing coordinator, the three venues were picked because of their popularity. There is no price difference for ordering online or in person.

“We don’t want students waiting in line that long,” Slocum said. “Pandini’s, The Diner and the Deli were popular and we knew there were long lines there.”

The online ordering, which was designed and tested over the summer, does not include every menu item available at location. It is being purposefully limited until Dining Service staff becomes accustomed to it and retail management can study how students use it.

“We’re still getting our legs under us with some of these new things because it’s a brand new venue and very different from what we’ve done before,” Slocum said.

In the first week, however, there were multiple issues with the system. Cashiers, cooks and student managers at all three stations confessed that they were unsure of the procedure for filling online orders.

“I don’t know how it works, I assume they’d come in the same way,” said a Sodexo worker speaking under the condition of anonymity. “But I haven’t seen any orders actually happen that way.”

Additionally, multiple students who did try to order, either with a credit card, debit card, meal plan or BUC$, were unable to do so.

Hamilton Sands, a junior majoring in psychology, tried to use multiple cards and was denied each time. The messages he received said that both his MasterCard and Visa were unable to be processed, although he had just recently used the cards.

“It was disappointing,” Sands said. “I’d like to use it for the novelty and convenience, but at least this time it was a debacle.”

Jim Ruoff, general manager of Dining Services, said there had been a glitch in the system, but Dining Services had not been aware of the problem until Thursday because no one had been tracking student purchases.

“Frankly, we were concentrating on basic operations,” Ruoff said. “Sometimes the technical issues fall through the cracks as with any new system. Everything is running fine now, I just ordered a pizza for lunch and it came through easily.”

Ruoff also said that Dining Services will be focusing on making the Marketplace more efficient in the coming semester

“We had over 300,000 transactions in the Marketplace last semester, so you’re going to start seeing some kiosks as well,” Ruoff said. “In Sub Connection and Eggs and Cakes, you’ll be able to punch in your order and then go wait to pick it up.”

Sophie Gamer, a junior majoring in women, gender and sexuality studies, said she would be interested in buying more from the Marketplace, but is skeptical of on-campus dining services.

“I would totally go more if I could order ahead of time,” Gamer said. “But I went to the Binghamton dining website for a smoothie and all I got was three rejections.”