DEX has revolutionized managing a vending business. It captures lots of data from the vending machine automatically, allowing vending management systems to present it in ways operators can readily understand and use to increase profitability.
An individual operator’s level of technological and operational focus greatly determines which vending management system reports are most useful. However, the reports operators mention most often focus on cash reconciliation, product merchandising and route efficiency.
“There are different levels of evolution,” said John Davies, owner of Synectic Software Solutions, which markets a vending management system, Vendsys. In his experience, operators using less sophisticated systems, such as manually reading cash meters and using spreadsheets, want to formalize their cash accountability and better manage product inventory.
Cash accountability reports show money collected against what was sold.
Other critical reports are inventory reconciliation (how products travel from the warehouse to the machine) and a waste report, which includes rates of product spoilage and if the product is making it back to the warehouse for disposal. “There needs to be cash accountability, but also an accountability as far as products,” Davies said.
One key report VendSys customers rely on is the location profitability report. It tallies the sales of the location as well as recorded waste, commission and visitation cost (which includes the labor component of servicing the location). The report supplies an overall profitability or contribution number. “It’s one of a group of drill down/dash board reporting tools,” said Davies. “The operator can look at the individual route and see its contribution, then drill down to the account level, then down to the machine level, and then down to each individual product.”
Merchandising reports helpful
“One of the most useful reports shows how much of each product has sold in the machine,” said David Robinson, owner, Robinson Vending Corp. in Bridgewater, Mass. Robinson uses the VendSys system and said the reports are easy to read. He uses the product sales data in many different aspects of running his business, including driving sales and marketing. One example is when a customer wants a certain type of product to stay in a machine. “We can show only five sold this last month,” said Robinson.
Reports that allow dynamic scheduling and prekitting are popular to maximize efficiency said Anant Agrawal, chief marketing officer at Cantaloupe Systems. The dynamic scheduling report shows which machines need servicing, where the machines are and the service required. “Most operators run the reports the day before the driver is going out into the field,” said Agrawal. “It’s no longer a static schedule.” This means the route may be different every day.
A prekitting report shows which products are needed to fill the machine. It’s important for obvious reasons, but Agrawal said operators use this report in different ways.
Someone new to the system may run the prekitting report and give it to the drivers to pull from the truck at a location. Others will give it to the warehouse personnel who round up to the nearest case and load the cases into the truck. The most efficient way, however, is to have the warehouse personnel pick the products from the report and put them into a bin for each location. “One big advantage is so they (operators) don’t have excess product on the truck,” said Agrawal.
Cantaloupe also offers alert reporting, which reports situations like equipment malfunctions. This can be a report on the computer, or for immediate problems, a text message to the service tech.
A report Agrawal believes will be very popular with operators is a new one called “Dynamic Par.” This report will analyze the slow moving products and adjust the fill count based on the service schedule. For example, the software wants to fill a column to its capacity (12 products). If the column never sells out, there’s no need to always fill it to 12; six products might suffice.