They installed cellular phone transmitters from Montreal, Quebec-based DigiVend Systems Inc. The transmitters regularly send data over the Internet to the main office, where it is used to compile orders for the next delivery. To date, there has been no problem with cellular signal reliability.
Technology Facilitates Company Growth
The technology has given the company excellent control of its cash, inventory, product selection, and route labor. It has allowed the company to expand beyond the critical 7- to 10-route size. This is the point at which vending companies generally enjoy greater economies of scale.
But improving operating efficiencies is only one purpose of the technology. It has also improved customer satisfaction. The company has received accolades from customers who are impressed with the fact that the machines are always well stocked with the most popular products.
Many customers also appreciate the detailed sales reports the company provides.
Line item tracking has also made it easier for the company to address rising concerns about nutrition. Because the market for healthy items is so limited, many vending operators are hesitant to get into it.
Monumental Vending, by being able to track a product's performance quickly and accurately, has not hesitated to target that elusive yet important health-conscious shopper.
This past year, the company launched its "Healthy Initiatives" project under the direction of Ben White, operations manager.
"We are in the seat of the federal government, and initiatives on health care and obesity initiate from our town," White explained. "We have to be out in front of the issue. Obesity has become a large concern."
To Monumental Vending, this need represented yet another way for the company to differentiate itself from the competition.
Healthy Eating Initiative Begins
While much of the public is clamoring for healthier options, vending and foodservice providers have often hit a brick wall when trying to define a healthy product. To overcome this challenge, Monumental Vending enlisted the services of a company that designed a broad mix of options: low-fat, low-salt, low-carb, sugar-free and organic. The company, Healthyvending.net, has a whole array of products that meet all of these definitions, and point-of-sale graphics that draw attention to them.
"We're trying a sampling of items that cover a wide variety of dietary needs," White explained. "People's concept of 'healthy' differs." Products carried include Snyder's Veggie Crisp, Pirate's Booty from Robert's American Gourmet, and Stacy's Pita Chips.
White regularly shops the organic food supermarkets to see what else he can find for the program.
Monumental Vending has determined, based on a machine's sales history, how much of each machine should be allocated to healthy selections. These alternatives go on the left columns of each snack machine.
Software Enables Healthy Options
Line item sales reporting ensures that these offerings will not undermine a location's sales, White noted. About 20 percent of the real estate in any machine is occupied by slow movers. Hence, there is more than enough room for healthy alternatives.
"In many instances, the person who isn't going to eat a candy bar won't eat anything else that isn't healthy," White noted. "We're trying to gain that non-traditional vending customer."
"We offer a healthy balance. We then tailor that balance by location," White said.
To date, this program has been most successful in white collar accounts, followed by government accounts, then schools.
Response to date has been promising. "The clients are thrilled," White said, regarding the location managers. And the consumers? "The consumers are beginning to purchase them out of the machines."
The company has even placed dedicated low-carb vending machines from Low Carb Vending LLC in some accounts.