This year’s state of the vending industry is positive. There has been two percent growth in revenues from last year. The recovering economy, in most areas, is helping, but the real difference I see this year is the technology, both at the point of sale and on the backend.
There has been an upsurge in vending operators adding cashless. While we are far from even half of the vending machines in our industry allowing credit and debit payments, the upward swing is encouraging. The fact that more operators were trying cashless in 2013 is also a good sign, as it is a technology likely to bring more sales.
Micro market growth doubles
Micro markets are the real shining star when it comes to technology. Not only do operators see significantly more sales, the reporting capabilities make product selection and merchandising more accessible.
Perhaps emerging from the growth in micro market is the increased use of vending management systems to look at vending data. Operators reported looking at their data to determine good sellers, remove slow turners and even redistribute product in the machine to increase the time needed between service. This level of data and analysis is another encouraging sign. Operators survived the recession by learning to be leaner and as the recover happens, they are continuing to find ways to be efficient and grow, but grow logically and with the data behind them.
This year and beyond
In 2014, it will be important for operators to examine how they can meet the growing demand for healthy products. That might be different logistics from the warehouse to the machine or new product channels. It’s an obstacle that will need to be solved for the vending channel to move forward. Mobile apps were prevalent at the OneShow this year, and will be another interesting area to watch. All this beneficial technology and the device loving-millennials are both causes for optimism about the future as long as we continue to gain efficiency and work on capturing the attention of the end user. The world is changing, but there is a place for vending within it.