Many observers have postulated that technology will help make the vending industry more professional. The newer software systems, the remote machine monitoring, the video screens and the cashless technology have all been cited as helping to change our industrys reputation for the better.
These are tools that in and of themselves wont change anything unless the behavior of our industry changes.
The way in which technology players are approaching the industry gives reason to believe they are setting a good example as professionals.
The dictionary defines professionalism as professional character, spirit or methods, and the standing, practice of methods of a professional, as distinguished from an amateur.
Vending has long been viewed as less than professional for many reasons. The way in which many people have conducted business has left much to be desired. There is a lot of badmouthing among competitors in our industry.
Professionals, by contrast, are less inclined to badmouth each other. Ask a doctor, lawyer, architect or accountant his or her opinion about a colleague, and Ill wager they will speak highly of him or her. Thats because they know when they speak of a fellow professional, their comments reflect on how they see themselves.
I thought about this recently in relation to how technology is changing our industry.
Apriva Inc. has entered the vending market with a cashless solution. Digital Transaction News, a trade journal for the digital transaction industry, ran a story on Aprivas entry into the market, challenging USA Technologies Inc., another cashless system provider.
When the reporter asked Stephen Herbert, president and chief operating officer of USAT about the new competitor, Herbert said, Were glad to see a company like Apriva taking this space seriously, and we think itll be good for adoption in an emerging market.
This month, Automatic Merchandiser reported on the market entry of Avanti Markets Inc., a self checkout system similar to Fast Track Convenience. When I asked Ray Friedrich, the Detroit area vending operator who has been marketing Fast Track Convenience about Avanti Markets, he said Avanti Markets validates the self checkout concept.
These technology providers are taking the high road, and in doing so, they are setting an example for the industry as it evolves.
Technology will make our industry more professional.
To change the consumers perception of automatic merchandising, individual operators must act professional.