The company also has single-cup brewers in the market where customers serve themselves a cup of coffee for 75 cents.
“Things that normally wouldn’t sell through a vending machine are selling through the markets,” noted Brian Foley, customer relations manager.
While customers can pick up the products and read ingredient and nutrition information before buying, they can also view this information on the touchscreen.
The touchscreen allows the servicing route driver to quickly view inventory needs while he is at the location. He can also input stales.
“The inventory has to be constantly monitored,” Brian Foley noted.
Because of the increased inventory, Foley has added warehouse staff, but this investment has been more than justified by the sales gain.
Warehouse organization critical
The Avanti Markets comes with its own software, and there is extra management time required for the markets. The system generates its own pick list.
Foley sources product from Vistar and a convenience store distributor.
Foley noted that the warehouse has to operate with maximum efficiency to service the self checkout markets accurately. “The warehouse has to be 100 percent dead accurate in getting stuff into the field,” said Ken Foley, vice president. “It has brought item level merchandising to a whole new level.”
The brothers credit their warehouse inventory organization for being able to combine the vending and self checkout market deliveries on the same vehicles. They have dedicated pickers in the warehouse for each main vending product category: cold drinks, snacks and food (refrigerated and frozen). There are also pickers dedicated to self checkout markets inventory.
Kevin Bailey, vice president of sales at Avanti Markets, said his company recommends dedicated drivers for servicing the markets. He said vending companies that assign the markets to vending drivers must advise them to take sufficient time in servicing the markets.
Bailey said about half of the vending operators that operate Avanti Markets have dedicated drivers for the markets.
Even though Foley now has more products being delivered than prior to having self checkout markets, pre-kitting has allowed for smaller truck loads. Foley has been able to downsize from trucks to cube vans.
To improve item level merchandising, the company is in the process of investing in a “pick to light” system in its warehouse, whereby pickers are notified by lights above the product bins how much of each item to pull.
The self checkout has won several new accounts for the company. The sales gain has allowed Foley to add a new route this past year.
So far, Foley has not paid commission for a self checkout market.
The company recently installed a self checkout market at an account with 500 workers. Because there are short meal breaks at this account, Foley installed two payment kiosks to allow workers to buy their food faster.
Next goal: remote machine monitoring
The company’s experience with self checkout markets and Quickstore24 has fostered an appreciation for remote machine monitoring (RMM). In both cases, Foley accesses a Website that collects data via RMM to get sales information and fill reports.
Hence, one of the company’s next objectives is to introduce RMM to all of its vending machines.
RMM will provide more timely data than handhelds and it will eliminate the need for drivers to download data from the machines.
Steve Foley believes RMM will make it possible to implement dynamic scheduling, whereby accounts are scheduled for service on an as-needed basis. The company has already introduced dynamic scheduling for some accounts.
Foley is aware that dynamic scheduling does place new demands on management. Someone must monitor machine needs constantly or it can create uneven work loads for drivers.
Foley’s use of technology has required large investments for a company with seven routes. He credits a good banking relationship with providing the company the capital it needs.
With all of the money the company has been investing in technology, Foley is happy to report the company is profitable. He sees rising product costs as the biggest challenge to his profitability at present and in the future.