- Transmission of the DEX file to the operator.
- This can be done using a handheld device at the machine, or via local or remote networking.
- Application of vending management software to interpret DEX data. Vending management software relies on formulations and report formats to translate raw data into useble information.
- Training and operational support to enable implementation of product sales by correlation to a planogram or product mapping.
DEX file variances
The structure and content of DEX files can be different by type of machine (e.g., coffee brewer versus cold beverage) or by manufacturer and model. Such diversity must be recognized and addressed.
Given this potential lack of uniformity, the cost and time required to implement a full-featured vending management system, operators may opt instead to focus on the transactional data generated through a MDB payment device.
MDB data is stored as a complete electronic transaction record that may include: date, time, number of transactions, vend column and price. This record can be retrieved remotely on a daily basis when connected to a communications network.
A communications network designed to collect MDB data is available as an additional benefit of cashless vending technology. Since cashless vending relies on MDB data to process credit card transactions, it can also be used as a stand-alone audit device (in place of DEX).
Providers of remote MDB reporting technology can provide transactional records via a Web-based reporting system, thereby eliminating the need for a separate route management system.
The information provided, while somewhat less detailed than DEX data, provides sufficient information for management to conduct route settlement with full accountability for all transactions, both cash and credit.
MDB-based reports can provide sales by machine, location, route or total operation, and by settlement type, time-of-day and multiple machine reporting. Reports can be used to help identify out-of-change conditions, low product inventory and out-of-service conditions.
Item level tracking: "V-engineering"
Tracking item level data for each machine allows for more effective replenishment, product rotation and improved profitability. This is the concept of "v-engineering." Since neither DEX nor MDB data is capable of identifying products sold without correlation to a planogram or product map, item level sales analysis can be tedious.
Similar to the popular menu engineering model used in commercial foodservice, v-engineering relies on a database of historical item sales data to identify best sellers, compute comparative profit margins, and formulate informed decisions relative to future product offerings.
Evaluative metrics can be applied by individual machine, location, account and route. Effective metrics include:
• Percent depleted — How much inventory remained in the machine at the time of servicing.
• Number of sold-outs — How many sold-out columns (and more importantly, products) were in the machine at the time of service.
• Percent filled — How filled the machine was following servicing.
• Average daily sales —The velocity of product movement.
Vending management software is capable of aggregating these metrics to reveal trends and opportunities.
V-engineering involves replacement of slow moving products with faster moving items to enhance machine contribution margin while providing for more efficient machine servicing for enhanced customer satisfaction. In the future, the application of v-engineering concepts should lead to increased sales, improved contribution margins and extended customer services.