Change Comes Slowly To Vending, And At A Cost

I recently heard from a reader who reminded me of an unpleasant truth about our industry.Amidst all the exciting things happening in vending, a segment of our readers continues to resist change.I heard from such a reader recently, and before discussing his comments, I wish to thank him for making his voice heard. It took courage on his part to engage in what he knew would be a disharmonious conversation.Because our industry includes a lot of small business owners, change comes slower than in other industries. This is one reason that competing retail channels have been faster to use new technology to improve their services.This particular individual, who will remain unnamed, does not belong to the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) since he believes they are not serving the operators interest. He believes NAMA should be trying to get big product suppliers to treat operators more equitably. He is unaware of anything NAMA has done in the past 10 years.He also thinks that Automatic Merchandiser Magazine has overstated the benefits technology offers the small vending operator. He would prefer we spend more time addressing the inequities operators face at the hands of product suppliers.The point that concerns me the most is his belief that his success depends on better purchasing terms rather than the changes we have called for over the years.I do not know how many of our readers he speaks for, but I suspect he speaks for many.As long as our industry fails to recognize the need to improve the value proposition it offers customers, it will not win its fair share of retail sales. And to do this successfully, technology is needed.This operator argued he does not need item level tracking software to manage routes successfully. When I argued that some operators I know have proven otherwise, he claimed they are exceptions.In 2005, we ran an article, Wake Up Vending! which became the basis of a series of articles in 2006. The last point in the 7-point action plan is Be an industry leader, which we defined as a) Get involved in trade association activity, b) Commit to technology on some level, and c) Have a business plan.I think a lot of our readers should reread this article. Go to: http://www.vendingmarketwatch.com/print/Automatic-Merchandiser/Wake-Up-Vending/1$14729

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