Dennis Thornton, a partner in Advanced Vending LLC in Ringgold, Ga., operates about 600 SPIO devices and has carried numerous offers for several restaurants as well as for Coke. He said an offer for a free Coke Zero was the most successful, which he credits to the product’s popularity.
“We did see a really good lift in sales once we had some good programs running,” said Scott Plaisted, customer service manager at Southern Refreshment Services in Tucker, Ga., another SPIO partner with hundreds of coupon dispensers. He said the recent promotions have lifted same store sales by at least 20 percent.
The SPIO video screens also allow customers to use digital coupons. The video screen displays the coupon number that the consumer can then text to the merchant.
Prezzano said the future rests more with the video screen than the print coupon. “Consumers visit machines with digital screens on them at a higher rate than just pure print,” he said.
Prezzano said the vending machine’s unique ability to reach consumers where they work will draw more attention to vending when SPIO and similar products become more prevalent. He also said the new calorie disclosure law will build demand for the digital screens since the screens allow the operator to display information at the point of sale.
SPROUT INITIATIVE ADDS A PROPRIETARY CARD
Sprout is a strategic partnership designed to use technology to improve operational efficiency and develop interactive consumer programs for unattended retail locations.
The Vend Marketing Institute (VMI), a coalition of 17 independent vending operators, has deployed about 18,000 RMM and cashless installations across its network of machines and hopes to triple that number. Cantaloupe Systems is supporting these deployments with its Seed® services platform, including the company’s new Seed® cashless service.
Jim English, CEO of Sprout, said VMI members will offer Sprout card promotions to customers. Customers will be able to load value on their Sprout cards over the Internet with a credit card, checking account or through payroll deduction.
Imperial Companies, based in Tulsa, Okla., has 1,000 Sprout cards it plans to provide customers. The company has found it a great selling tool, noted Paul Tims, company president. Tims’ company offers to donate 1.5 percent of the Sprout card sales to a charity of the customer’s choice.
Tims likes the fact that the Sprout card is an operator sponsored promotion.
For Tims, the ability to use technology to improve merchandising was an added benefit of the Cantaloupe Seed® system. He invested in RMM initially in order to pre-kit his routes. By year’s end, he will have RMM on all his snack and soda machines and his higher volume food machines.
Refreshment Solutions LLC in Norco, La., another VMI partner, plans to offer 25 cents off on Coke Zero using the Sprout card, noted Marc Whitener, company president. He expects to have as many as 9,000 machines networked this summer.
Whitener said the Sprout program will allow consumer product manufacturers to measure results better and will therefore allow them to better target promotional offers. “The suppliers are very excited about this,” Whitener said.
Whitener, a former convenience store operator, noted that convenience stores have been using these types of consumer product promotions for many years, and that such promotions play a major role in driving convenience store sales.
Barton Shaw, co-owner of Atlanta Vending in Atlanta, Ga., another VMI partner, said the Sprout card will help him get prices beyond the dollar price point. “We feel like a stored value card is the best answer for a vending transaction,” he said. “The whole ease of payment is what we think will be a game changer in the future.”
FAST TRACK CONVENIENCE OFFERS SELF CHECKOUT
The Fast Track Convenience consists of a self checkout station where products are scanned by an RFID reader. It was introduced in 2005 and has gained a small following in the Midwest, Connecticut, South Carolina and Georgia.
The self checkout system allows an operator to offer far more variety than a traditional vending bank, and it has found a home in some large locations.
There are currently about 35 Fast Track Convenience stations operated by seven operators in the Midwest, Connecticut, South Carolina and Georgia.