Technology plays an important role

I live with a Luddite. My husband is opposed to new technology (read smartphones, tablet apps and automated, online banking) and isn’t impressed by new methods of industrialization. I am the opposite. For me, technology is a tool which allows me to communicate with multiple people within minutes, look up important information via a keyword and presents literally a world of knowledge at my virtual fingertips.

Strong vending asset

And look at what technology has done for vending. With DEX, handhelds and vending management software, technology has reduced data entry along with its human-error, given increased cash accountability and produced unbiased reports about which products sell and which don’t. Processes are more streamlined and more information is available to managers, which gives them increased control even as the operation increases in size, and profits.

It all adds up to the fact that technology in an organization is a powerful tool. Our success story on page 18, PrairieFire Coffee, had a lot of obstacles when it started six years ago, including inheriting antiquated software. Within the first year, general manager Jeff Deitchler knew he needed better technology to run the business and it added to the company’s growth.

Key to increasing sales

Technology isn’t just about operations management, but also increasing sales through better merchandising. Leveraging data and software to create loyalty programs and sales growth strategies is a must for the future of our industry. Micro markets, the newest vending technology and arguably the most exciting opportunity in recent history, allows operators to do just that. Allen Weintraub, consultant, believes micro markets as well as operators partnering with manufacturers on sales growth programs will reverse the industry’s downward trend. His article is on page 12.

Our competitors are also jumping on the technology band wagon with more and more machines meant to lure away the vending consumer. A number of single-serve machines were exhibited at the National Retail Federation BIG show and Paul Schlossberg was there to see them. Read his report on page 24.

Let’s not forget the upcoming National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) OneShow in April. The educational sessions, previewed on page 16, focus on technology, whether that means using it in your back-end operations or at the point of sale, such as in a micro market.

In my view, technology is a great tool, like a hammer. Sure, it can be overused or dangerous, but really, it’s just plain useful. So while my husband wants to become Amish, figuratively, I secretly covet a Galaxy S4.