There are many instances in which vending operators have been able to win business because they offered a piece of equipment with new features, such as guaranteed product delivery, higher denomination bill acceptance, or cashless transaction capability.
In many cases, however, purchasing a new machine that includes some or all of these features isn't financially feasible, particularly in challenging economic periods. The good news is that there are a host of kits, controllers and peripherals that make the choice to stay with an older vender easier.
Most of the older machines can now be upgraded to be DEX- and MDB-capable, offer guaranteed product delivery, large bill acceptance, and debit or credit card acceptance.
Guaranteed delivery options
One of the most popular new capabilities is guaranteed product delivery. Most new machines on the market these days offer this feature. Now there are controllers and kits that offer this same functionality for many of the older glassfront venders.
Mike Garrett, operations manager of Twin Oaks Vending, a 6-route operation based in Twin Oaks, Ill., said his company has exclusively been using refurbished equipment for several years. Twin Oaks Vending has found that by using retrofit kits to provide new features such as guaranteed product delivery, they can be competitive with other companies offering brand new equipment.
Garrett said guaranteed product delivery is a strong selling tool. He acknowledged that the retrofit kits haven't been problem free. Fortunately, the supplier he has worked with has been willing to replace parts when necessary.
"It has cut down on refunds," he said.
Retrofit kits an option for many legacy machines
Northwest Vending Co., an 18-route operation based in Eugene, Ore., has been studying DEX and MDB retrofit kits for machines that still have some good use ahead of them, noted Dave Peterson, sales and marketing manager.
Northwest Vending has used retrofit kits in the past to extend the bill acceptance on some of its changers, Peterson said. He said it is important to know that the retrofit kit is compatible with the specific changer model.
InOne Technology, Vendors Exchange International Inc. and Lutech Inc. all offer an aftermarket "guaranteed delivery" system.
Vendors Exchange International Inc. offers a retrofit kit called the Vend Wizard for nearly all Micromech machines on the market. The Vend Wizard guaranteed product delivery kit reduces refunds and unnecessary service calls. The kit re-establishes credit in the machine for a failed vend, allowing a second purchase attempt. After two failed attempts, it refunds the customer's money.
The Vend Wizard installs in the field in 12 to 30 minutes, and requires no special tools. In addition, the Vend Wizard upgrades a glassfront vender to $5 acceptance, as well as makes the machine DEX and /or MDB capable. The Vend Wizard is available for APi 6000/7000, 110 series, LCM and National 147/148, 145/146,157/158 venders.
Lutech Inc. has Vend Verifier, a guaranteed delivery kit that retrofits any Micromech snack machine.
InOne Technology provides the CheckMate™ guaranteed
delivery feature, a popular feature of InOne's DEXmate VMC, a replacement vending machine controller for legacy machines such as the APi 4000/5000, 6000/7000, APi LCM and 110 series glassfront snack merchandisers, as well as the Crane National 147/148 Snack Center.
"We listened to our customers who were frustrated that they were forced to purchase a new vender in order to stay competitive," noted Gene Ostendorf, CEO of InOne. "We designed the DEXmate VMC as an easy and affordable replacement board for the top performing snack machines while also providing most of the same features available in new venders."
The InOne replacement boards also offer MDB; credit cards; large denomination bill acceptors; 3- to 5-tube coin mechs; built-in DEX compatibility; updated, digital 2-line displays; and the ability to program times when machines are available for use.