Luccia further noted that food products account for 35 percent of the products in a micro market, which is higher than the percent in a vending bank.
Luccia said the best increases over vending have occurred in those locations where vending sales were weakest.
He noted that micro markets have a certain learning curve for operators and require a longer term investment than OCS.
John Barnes, president of the vending division at Mission, Kan.-based Treat America, uses the Company Kitchen. He said his company has placed 125 micro markets in the last 10 months.
Barnes said the micro market has proven a successful selling tool, allowing the company to win accounts.
The micro market on average generates 50 percent more sales than a vending bank, Barnes said.
Rick Austin, president of Georgia Vending Services in Alpharetta, Ga., uses the MicrotronicUS system. He said he was skeptical about it initially, but he has been pleasantly surprised how easy it has been to use it in the year he has operated it at an account with 1,500 employees.
Austin said he appreciates the fact that MicrotronicUS has taken the time to help him with integrating the micro market data with his vending software system.
Vic Pemberton, owner of Pepi Food Service in Bainbridge, Ga., uses the Breakroom Provisions system. He said the micro market gives a vending company a new career opportunity for employees. “Your employees win,” he said.
Pemberton noted that vending sales have been declining in recent years.
In asking customer to rate his service, he said the micro market generates higher scores than the vending.
During the question and answer session, the first question posed to the panel was what commissions they pay.
Most panelists said they pay no commission on the micro markets.
Canteen’s Luccia said in the future, commissions are possible as the micro markets become more pervasive and operator competition increases.
The second question raised was how much theft occurs in the markets.
Luccia said theft has been around 0.3 percent. He said the surveillance camera serves as a deterrant.
Georgia Vending Services’ Austin said he was initially concerned about theft, and he is not sure how much theft there has been. “I can’t know because I can’t run the functionality in a timely manner to know,” he said.
Pepi Food Services’ Pemberton took issue with this and said the software allows an operator to know how much theft occurs. He said in his experience, two or three customer employees have been caught stealing and were fired.
Pemberton said an operator must be willing to address theft with customers. However, he said the amount of theft has been low.
Another questioner asked the providers what they are doing to help operators use the sales data.
Avanti Markets' Brinton said his company shares sales data from all of the micro markets to allow operators to know what are the better sellers. For example, string cheese, an item he never would have thought to go in a vending machine, has proven a strong seller in micro markets.
365 Retail Market’s Hessling said the data is being used to develop both product and price point suggestions.
Company Kitchen’s Mitchell said he is developing algorithms to better understand what products are selling best.
The topic of ADA compliance was raised. New access requirements have been released by the U.S. Justice Department.
Brinton said he has developed ADA compliant kiosks. He said the kiosks are not required to meet ADA standards, but certain customers want the kiosks to meet the requirements.
One questioner who has used micro markets wanted to know how well multi-serving bags have performed in micro markets.
Ace Vending’s Van Hazel said the multi-serving bags have not been good sellers.
Canteen’s Luccia said it depends on the demographics of the location. He said the products are not good sellers in offices.
Asked about unforeseen obstacles, Pepi Food Service’s Pemberton said it is challenging organizing the warehouse to deliver the proper selection to accounts. This requires a certain amount of training.
Asked how they integrate micro market prices with vending, panelists agreed the two can coexist well in the same account.