Yesterday’s article in USA Today about how video screens are starting to revolutionize vending (http://tinyurl.com/6q6jkal) is helping to set the stage for a new era in vending. The article went into detail about the videoscreens from VendScreen and Vendors Exchange International Inc.’s Make Informed Nutritional Decisions (MIND).
Newspapers, TV stations and other media have been reporting about new vending technology more frequently in the last two years. Yesterday’s USA Today story was one of the most specific stories to run in a national consumer publication. The article focused on the videoscreens’ ability to address pending calorie disclosure rules. It also mentioned the technology’s ability to support new types of consumer advertising, cashless payments, coupon redemption and the ability to collect data and report on mechanical issues.
Rest assured that many vending location managers, as well as vending consumers, saw the article. And because of it and other articles like it, they are going to look to a new type of vending service. Vending operators need to be ready for changing customer expectations.
The vending industry is changing in many ways. Besides all the exciting new tools, the industry has begun to understand the importance of effective media relations. This in itself is a revolutionary development that will change the world as we’ve known it.
The National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) and a handful of individual companies have been working hard this past year to improve the vending industry’s traditional image as a tired old industry. They are focusing on the exciting new technology in their proactive media relations efforts.
VendScreen, one of the company’s highlighted in yesterday’s USA Today article, deserves credit for recognizing the importance of media relations. VendScreen hired a media relations person who reached out to USA Today and helped the reporter with the article.
There is a lot going on with our industry’s new technology. Last year’s NAMA Expo featured some exciting new things, and I have it on good authority that this year’s Expo will be even better. It is imperative that vending operators be up to speed and stay a step ahead of customers as they become more knowledgeable.
The education challenge for operators can be intimidating. In October, Automatic Merchandiser carried an article, “Foundation for success: customer relations” (http://tinyurl.com/7frbktn), to help operators get a handle on how to address this challenge. The article’s premise was that while technology creates many new capabilities, its ultimate purpose in vending is to improve customer relations. And because customer service remains the basis of vending, a vending operator can prioritize their technology objectives based on a well thought out customer relations plan.