Look back 50 years and the vending business was described as the 4 Cs. That’s coffee, cola, candy and cigarettes.
Today we live in a new world of technology and instant communications.
We are entering a new era for our industry. The new 4 Cs are connect, communicate, customize and cashless. The challenge for vending, OCS and onsite foodservice operators is how effective we will be in this new 4 Cs world. How quickly will we adapt to these new standards?
We saw dramatic evidence of how retail channels are changing at the 2012 National Retail Federation (NRF) Show in New York City in January.
Paco Underhill, founder and president of Envirosell, a retail consulting firm, was a featured speaker. He said, “The way people shop will change more in the next five years than it has changed in the past 100 years.” Those of us in vending, OCS and onsite foodservice run retail stores. We should be getting ready for even more change in how we sell, what we sell and where we sell.
Stop and think for a moment how much change we’ve seen in how we communicate with one another. And consider how quickly and easily we can access information about where we go to buy something or how to get there.
The iPhone was first introduced on Jan. 9, 2007. In December 2011, over half of all Americans had a smart phone — whether it was an iPhone or an Android phone. How did we ever exist before we had these amazing, addictive devices?
In the next two years, Apple is expected to sell 65.6 million iPads, according to analyst Michael Walkley of Canaccord Genuity, the global investment bank. That will mean more than 100 million iPads sold by the end of 2012. The iPad was introduced in January 2010.
Look at today’s new innovations
We have seen a wave of exceptional new vending equipment coming on the market in recent years. The Coca-Cola Interactive Vending Machine. The Kraft diji-touch candy/snack machine. The Pepsi Social Vending Machine. There are self-serve ordering kiosks for foodservice operations. The self-service markets where payment kiosks and scanners replace the vending machines. The arrival of single-cup brewing equipment and an increasing number of branded product options has been a huge growth driver for OCS operators.
The National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) presented the highlights from its very important market research study at the 2011 OneShow. The most important highlight was that young people like vending. One of the key reasons is that they prefer to deal with a machine rather than deal with people when they are shopping. They like the fact that it is fast, accurate and self-service.
Let me tell you what I learned at the NRF Show in New York City. It relates directly to how shopping will change and what we must do to win the next generation of shoppers. All of this sets up the possibility of an excellent future for us, if we capitalize on it with the most appropriate solutions.
What was new at the NRF Show? In a word, it was vending.
At the Intel booth, there was the new Kraft Jell-O sampling vending machine. Kraft has deployed these machines at supermarkets to offer samples of new products. The machine is “smart.” It has facial recognition capabilities and can recognize a child versus an adult. When sampling food products at retail stores, the demonstrators cannot offer a sample to a child unless the parent permits it first. So the machine can stop a child from getting a sample.
What was interesting was that Intel then changed the front panel to demonstrate the diji-touch candy/snack machine. They showed how it functions and how shoppers can interact with it. They also described how operators can set the screen planogram to maximize the shopping experience.