Is vending even relevant anymore?

Now hear me out — I’m not suggesting everyone close up shop right now and go into another business, but doesn’t it seem like there’s an awful lot of news that is always “attacking” vending? Whether it’s the snacks that are offered or the size of a beverage, there just seems to be quite a bad stigma on our industry that we are constantly trying to fight.

That’s why whenever I come across something unique regarding vending, I can’t help but pay attention and that’s what happened when I read about TaxiTreats, a company that has an idea to install vending machines in taxis in New York City. Its product is called Vengo and its premise? To provide consumers with convenience items like gum, peanuts, hand sanitizer and yes, even condoms.

In fact, 3Floz out of New York has just started selling Transportation Security Administration (TSA) friendly sized personal items in U.S. airports via vending machines. How many times have you been in line at the security check point only to be held up by the inexperienced traveler ahead of you who has full-sized bottles of shampoo or hair spray. Wouldn’t it be nice if they had separate lines for “experienced” and “vacation” travelers? One can dream, but I digress.

Meeting consumer needs still important

I’m not claiming these companies have invented the newest million dollar idea. Time will tell how consumers use these machines. My point is, their mission is nothing new. They were created to provide convenience to the consumer, which is the reason our industry exists in the first place. These companies have found ways to reach a consumer and complete a sale.

So what’s the take away? Always think like your customer and ask if you are doing everything to ensure you can complete a sale. Are your machines stocked with the product mix your customer wants? If your machines are stocked, are you truly providing a completely convenient experience if you do not have a card reader or bill recycler on your machine? Does it make sense for you to offer a micro market experience to a location? If you already offer micro markets, are there unique items you haven’t thought about that would be welcomed by your clients? Are you doing any marketing or public relations work with customers to create a positive image of your operation?

Keep the customer in mind

Everything that you do should have the consumer at the top of mind. If you don’t, then you are losing a potential sale, or a new customer, or an opportunity to change someone’s perception of what a vending experience really could be. As you can see, there are other companies out there that realize what a convenience vending is and are more than happy to try and close the sale. Never fear, vending is still relevant as long as we continue to evolve to meet our customers’ needs.