Aramark, one of the largest contract caterers in Germany, uses unmanned vending solutions from Innovend. The first Zuply LockBloxes are now in operation.

This contact was established through qnips, an innovative software developer from Hanover known as the specialist for the digitization of catering worldwide. Aramark makes intensive use of qnips’ online platform for contract catering, and of qnips’ app, which allows employees and guests of company restaurants and other locations managed by Aramark to order freshly prepared meals and snacks. The interface between qnips and Innovend’s unmanned serving points facilitate an expansion of options and service.

Top three caterers

Aramark is a publicly listed American company, and one of the top three caterers in the world. “It first started with sales,” says Jolka Kremer, Project Manager Marketing at Aramark Germany. “The founder sold peanuts from his car to workers at factories. Even in Germany, where Aramark became active in the mid-1950s, selling food on-site was the starting point. That evolved into gastronomy: we are now catering at factories and offices, in football stadiums, hospitals, at event venues and pop concerts.”

“But sales have always remained,” adds Jolka. So the application of the smart Zuply vending machines completely fits Aramark’s core business, she says. However, the food is always freshly prepared on site, by Aramark’s own staff in on-site kitchens. “At over 500 large and medium-sized employers throughout Germany, active in all sectors.”


Vending machines are an important addition to the way Aramark markets its products. Jolka: “These are for snacks and late meals. The machines are located at various points in major offices and factories. They offer a wide range of products: from a chocolate bar to a fresh fruit salad, a poke bowl or a hot meal.”

“The vending machine has to be adapted to that,” Jolka explains. “A candy bar or a drink can be sold in a classic vending machine, but a poke bowl, or another type of complete meal, cannot. That’s where Innovend steps in with its solution in the form of a Zuply LockBlox. This solution is successful because the lockers are flexible, customised, and offer more space. Additionally they offer the option to order via an app and unlock the right locker.”

Digital foundation

Aramark uses the services of qnips, which developed a platform where employees can order meals and snacks from the company restaurant. qnips is a platform for the contract catering industry that offers frictionless and modern user journeys but also an easy and automated data management on the administrator side. Aramark Germany and qnips have a close partnership. The app is completely tailored to the needs of the catering company and its customers and guests. “The platform and the app are our digital foundation,” says Jolka. 

The qnips ordering app now has more than 7 million users in the German-speaking countries, the UK and, since 2022, also in the US and South America. “Our app is used by both contract caterers and multinationals with their own corporate catering,” says Kenji Koch, who is responsible for International Business Development at qnips.


“We have known Innovend for several years,” Kenji explains. “In 2019, we presented our first joint solution for the catering industry. We have done several projects with them since then, for example at energy company E.ON and software company SAP.”

Since Aramark wants to deploy greater numbers of vending machines, and because qnips has excellent experiences with Innovend, Kenji and his colleagues introduced Innovend to Aramark. “Because we have a seamless cooperation and because autonomous sales via Innovend’s vending machines offer a flexible solution.”

These include the Zuply LockBlox, which is modular and can contain lockers of different sizes, with or without refrigeration. In particular, the option of ordering a meal or snack in advance, paying for it, and collecting it at an agreed-upon time is a big advantage. The Innovend technology complements that of qnips perfectly.

Order through the app

“As far as we know, they are the only manufacturer that can meet the requirements to enable app-based ordering,” Kenji explains. “Through our central platform, customers can easily select, order, and pay via the app, on their mobile phones, or via a website.”

It also works quickly and efficiently for the caterer: they receive the order at the relevant location, which they can freshly prepare and place in the vending machine. The customer is notified when they can pick up the meal. Scanning a QR code from the app opens the right locker.

Higher customer satisfaction, less waste

This way, there is always fresh and sufficient supply. It also results in higher availability: products are available outside company restaurant opening hours – and they are fresh! They can either be eaten immediately at work, or taken away at the end of the day and reheated in the microwave at home.

The offer thus matches the needs of employees and guests. This increases customer satisfaction. It also reduces food waste and avoids unnecessary work: one only prepares what is actually sold.

“A big advantage is that users can pre-order via the app,” says Jolka. “You can’t do that with ordinary vending machines: you can only choose what’s already there. The solution from qnips and Innovend is on another level: it’s smart and that makes it an interesting proposition.” Aramark can continue to prepare meals freshly and thus deliver the desired quality.  

Seamless connection

The first Zuply LockBlox for Aramark was given a place at the Neu-Isenburger headquarters. Jolka: “It was a prototype, which we were able to test extensively. Together with qnips and Innovend, we made sure that everything connected and worked together seamlessly.”

In 2022, the first commercial Zuply LockBlox was installed in SAP’s Walldorf office. “From now on, we will also always include Innovend’s solution when talking to a new customer or when renewing an existing contract.”

Successful together

Both qnips and Aramark expect the cooperation with Innovend to expand in the coming years. Kenji: “In Germany, the demand for smart vending machines and autonomous shops is growing, as they increase availability, reduce costs, and are a solution to staffing problems. The solutions require a good interface between our software and that of the vending machine. At Innovend, this works excellently. We also see opportunities abroad, such as in the US, to be successful together.”

Aramark also foresees an increase in smart vending machines to support corporate catering. Jolka: “Especially now that the way of working has changed due to the covid pandemic. There is now a combination of working in the office and at home. As a result, there are days when demand is less, so the corporate restaurant has shorter opening hours or is closed altogether. We see this particularly on Mondays and Fridays. The LockBlox enables us to offer sufficient choice on these days too. And everything is fresh!”

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